THEY WERE BOTH named in RTÉ’s list of its top earners, but Ryan Tubridy and Claire Byrne both say they have no issue with their salaries being made public.
Tubridy tops the list, earning €495,000 a year, while Byrne is one of three women on the list, earning €201,500. The pair was speaking as RTÉ launched its new season for RTÉ One and RTÉ2.
Byrne, who recently gave birth to her third child, returns to RTÉ for Claire Byrne Live and her RTÉ One radio show this autumn. “I’ve been in the baby bubble for the last six weeks anyway so I’m out of the loop but I have seen it going on,” she said around the discussion about presenters’ pay.
“[I’m] very much aware that this happens and I know that I’m in a privileged position to be on that list,” she said. “I’d like to see more women on there, that would be great.”
Meanwhile, Ryan Tubridy said that the publishing of his salary is “part of my working year and people are entitled to know”, and that it is “perfectly legitimate and fair”.
Tubridy said that the pay issue “is a question for the management”, “because they’re the ones who decide what somebody is worth or somebody is not worth – not me. “It’s up to them to decide”.
Asked whether he thinks he is paid such a high wage because he’s “worth it”, Tubridy said:
The only ones who can answer that are the listeners, the viewers and the bosses.
The issue of gender and pay in the media world has been much discussed of late, with RTÉ’s director-general Dee Forbes saying that the broadcaster is reviewing the representation of women in terms of pay and on-air presence.
“In parallel with that, I will also be working with channel and station management to look at greater representational equality in terms of the makeup of our contributor panels,” Forbes said in early August.
The discussion was precipitated by the publication of BBC fees, which showed that there is an obvious gender pay gap among the broadcaster’s high earners.
“I think gender is an issue and gender pay is an issue not just in RTÉ, but because we are a media organisation it’s good that we’re leading the conversation,” said Byrne yesterday.
I think it’s good that people who work here and particularly women feel free to speak out about it in a very public way and I found that very heartening and I’m delighted that we’re doing a review, and I can’t wait to see what that review reveals.
She said that she hopes that other companies will take the lead from RTÉ’s moves on the issue.
“Because sometimes I think we’re held up as an example and perhaps the practice might be much worse elsewhere,” said the presenter. “We don’t know but we’re a very public organisation so we get a lot of heat on these things but I hope other places will take our lead.”
Byrne also described the publishing of her salary as “part and parcel” of her job. “As I say, I would like to say more women on that list and I’m not ashamed to say that that’s something I think we should be pushing for and certainly women in the organisation should be pushing for.”
As regards RTÉ giving greater transparency on pay within the organisation, Byrne said:
“I’m not sure where you stop with all of that. I’m not sure where it starts and where it stops. Why are we saying we need everybody’s salary revealed – is it because your licence fee is paying for it? Well then let’s get salaries revealed across the board where taxpayers are paying the salaries. So every organisation where the taxpayer is paying their salary then all of their salaries can be revealed. Perhaps. I don’t know. Where is the line? It’s certainly not for me to decide.”
On the issue of gender, Byrne said that Claire Byrne Live is trying to get more new voices on air this season, and is putting out a particular call for female voices.
Tubridy similarly said that he feels the gender pay gap needs to be closed. ”I’ve got two daughters, I’ve got two sisters and a mother I love, and my feeling would be on anything to do with gender and disparity, and any gap in relation in that regard, needs to be closed. Simple as that.”
In any field of life, whether it’s the workplace, whether it’s at home… that gap has to close. There’s a review happening in RTÉ, that’s correct to be happening and the next thing is the report that comes from that, that has to be actioned and whatever is broken needs to be fixed.
Tubridy said that he doesn’t know what his fellow broadcasters earn until the salary list is published, and that it is “cause for conversation, yeah”.
When asked if he receives any backlash from the public about his salary, he said no.
“I’m under no illusion as to my good fortune. We look at the Late Late Show and it has big sponsorship, the radio show has big sponsorship, the Toy Show is a good news day for RTÉ as well. I think these are things that need to be talked about as well,” he said.