Senator Rónán Mullen

Seanad to debate legislation on restricting salaries at RTÉ

Kielty deal “at the borderline” of what should be permissible – Mullen

The salary to be received by the incoming host of The Late Late Show is at the borderline of what should be permissible in a public service broadcaster, Independent Senator Rónán Mullen said this afternoon.

Senator Mullen was speaking after his Broadcasting (Restriction of Salaries) Bill passed its first stage in the Seanad earlier today. The Bill, the first-ever legislation to tackle the issue of top salaries at the national broadcaster, will receive its Second Stage hearing in the Seanad on Wednesday 5th July.

The new Bill would provide that no individual could receive total remuneration in excess of the salary of the Minister for Communications for any work done at a “corporation”, i.e. RTÉ or TG4. This cap would currently stand at €195,161 but the corporation may take public service pension and benefits into account when calculating the cap.

Senator Mullen said that the sum of €250,000 per season, revealed this afternoon by comedian Patrick Kielty as his contract fee for hosting The Late Late Show, would strike many people as excessive. “I’d say it’s at the borderline of what should be permissible for a 1 to 1.5 day per week job in an organisation substantially funded by the taxpayer,” Mullen said. “Certainly, under this Bill he could receive no further payments for any additional work done for the public service broadcaster.”

Senator Mullen’s Bill would require RTÉ and TG4 to publish a list of any individuals receiving more than a TD’s salary, €107,376, for working at the stations.

The Bill makes it an offence for a public service broadcaster to exceed the cap, or to publish false information about the remuneration of any individual employed or contracted to work at the stations.

The Bill requires that the contracts of personnel involved in “preparing or presenting” news, current affairs or other material would prohibit the individuals involved from expressing “personal views” on issues being presented. Another section of the Bill requires the corporations to determine and publish the sanctions they may impose where the Compliance Committee finds individuals to have breached the impartiality requirements of the Broadcasting Act. These sanctions include the requirement to broadcast personal apologies, the possible suspension of employment and the partial withholding of remuneration.

Senator Mullen told the Seanad today that the crisis that had broken out at RTÉ was “a crisis of transparency and a crisis of accountability”.

“There is major public concern about the possibility that arrangements were made in a manner designed to deceive the public as to the true nature of certain salaries,” Senator Mullen said.

“However there has been concern for a long time about the issue of salaries at the public service broadcaster,” Mullen said

For more information contact Senator Rónán Mullen on 087 2446911 or 01 6183930.