Tubridy wants to ‘re-establish trust with listeners’ following report

A review found neither Tubridy nor his agent Noel Kelly had any part in the under-reporting of his 2017-2019 earnings.

By Cillian Sherlock
Wednesday 16 August 2023 17:14 BST
RTE star presenter Ryan Tubridy welcomed the findings of the report (Niall Carson/PA)
RTE star presenter Ryan Tubridy welcomed the findings of the report (Niall Carson/PA) (PA Wire)

RTE star presenter Ryan Tubridy has said he wants to re-establish trust with listeners as he welcomed the publication of a highly-anticipated report into his earnings between 2017 and 2019.

Tubridy, who had been the station’s highest-paid employee prior to his decision to leave his role presenting the flagship Late Late Show earlier this year, has also not been featuring on his daily morning radio show in the wake of the scandal which emerged over the under-reporting of his earnings and the underwriting of a deal involving the host and a commercial partner.

RTE has been mired in a deepening controversy since the story involving mis-stated figures arose in June, with the Government launching reviews into governance and culture at the national broadcaster.

An initial review into the functioning of the commercial arrangement, which was carried out by auditors Grant Thornton, found no wrongdoing on the part of Tubridy.

I am committed to re-establishing the confidence and trust of my colleagues and listeners

Ryan Tubridy

On Wednesday, a second Grant Thornton review also found neither Tubridy nor his agent Noel Kelly had any part in the separate issue of RTE’s financial department under-reporting his earnings for a three-year period.

In the national broadcaster’s regular publication of its highest-paid on-air talent, Tubridy’s earnings were underdeclared by 120,000 euro between 2017 and 2019.

His earnings were stated by RTE as 491,667 euro for 2017, 495,000 euro in 2018 and 495,000 euro in 2019 when his fees were actually 511,667 euro, 545,000 euro and 545,000 euro respectively.

This was a retrospective accounting practice relating to Tubridy’s decision to waive a 120,000 euro end-of-contract fee in 2020.

However, the Grant Thornton report published on Wednesday said there was no document to explain why this fee was split across 2017-2019 in the manner which it was.

It determined, on the balance of probabilities, this was a measure designed to keep Tubridy’s publicly-stated earnings at the national broadcaster below 500,000 euro per year.

Tubridy has said he wishes to return to presenting his radio programme but new RTE director-general Kevin Bakhurst has yet to make a decision about his future.

In a statement through a media-relations firm, Tubridy said he welcomed the findings of the report – including that he did not claim 120,000 euro in fees due to him at the end of 2020 and that he did not agree with how RTE proposed to account for this.

Tubridy said: “I repeat my offer to publish the details of any future RTE contract.

“I am committed to re-establishing the confidence and trust of my colleagues and listeners, and I hope that any fair assessment of the findings of today’s report will help in this regard.”

He added: “I want to acknowledge the huge support that I have received in recent weeks from people across the country; many cards and letters, greetings on the street and words of support from people I bumped into meant an awful lot to me and I appreciate them all very much.”

The chair of the broadcaster’s board said she was glad the report stated that neither Tubridy nor his agent had any “hand, act or part” in the understatement of the presenter’s earnings.

Speaking to RTE’s News at One radio programme, Siun Ni Raghallaigh said the matter of Tubridy’s return to the organisation was a matter for Mr Bakhurst and the day-to-day running of the station was not part of the board’s obligations.

She said: “From what I can gather, and I’m looking at the same as everybody else, it seems to be like almost a 50:50 split of people’s opinions on this.

“Really, we have to let things run their course. It’s a decision for the director-general at the end of the day. That’s ultimately his decision.”

When asked whether she would like to see a decision made on Tubridy’s future at the organisation sooner rather than later, she said: “Yes, of course.”

In total, the station had underdeclared fees to Tubridy by 345,000 euro from the years 2017 to 2022.

The under-declaration of 225,000 euro over the years 2020-2022 was related to RTE’s decision to underwrite payments, which effectively resulted in the publicly-funded broadcaster stumping up to cover costs legally due to Tubridy.

Three 75,000 euro annual payments were received by Tubridy for proposed public appearances for Renault as part of a tripartite agreement involving the sponsor, RTE and the presenter.

RTE issued a credit note to Renault for the first year in exchange for the motoring company paying Tubridy the first 75,000 euro in 2020, meaning the interaction was cost neutral for the sponsor.

In years two and three of the arrangement, when Renault was no longer involved, RTE paid Tubridy from its own funds using a UK-based commercial barter account.

These payments – which were paid through the barter account and therefore not directly from RTE – were made in 2022.

This matter was examined under the earlier review and the second Grant Thornton report found no other issues with Tubridy’s pay over the period of 2020-2022.

Accordingly, RTE issued an upward correction of his earnings for this period in June, after originally omitting the fees for the commercial arrangement when it published the top-10 list for 2020 and 2021 in February.

On top of his normal fee from RTE, the broadcaster added amounts paid to Tubridy from Renault and the barter company relating to the commercial deal to his 2020-2022 earnings.

However, in his statement on Wednesday, Tubridy claimed the report “made it clear” that his actual income from RTE in 2020 “matches what was originally published” in February as his earnings for those years.

He added: “RTE has not yet published its top-10 earner details for 2022.”

The national broadcaster has not published this list, but has separately said Tubridy earned 515,000 euro in 2022.

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