RTE to consider understatement of Tubridy fees after receiving second report

Accountancy firm Grant Thornton has provided a second report into how much the star presenter was paid.

By Grinne N. Aodha
Monday 14 August 2023 17:55 BST
The board of RTE has received a second report into payments made to TV presenter Ryan Tubridy (Niall Carson/PA)
The board of RTE has received a second report into payments made to TV presenter Ryan Tubridy (Niall Carson/PA) (PA Wire)

The board of RTE has been given a finalised report into the understatement of star presenter Ryan Tubridy’s published fees by 120,000 euro from 2017 to 2019.

The board said it would now consider the second Grant Thornton report into how RTE had declared Tubridy’s fees.

Ireland’s public service broadcaster has been the subject of controversy since announcing that it had under-declared Tubridy’s earnings by 345,000 euro (£295,000) from the years 2017 to 2022.

Of that amount, 225,000 euro relates to three 75,000 euro annual payments received by Tubridy for proposed public appearances for Renault, as part of a tripartite agreement involving the sponsor, RTE and the presenter.

Ryan Tubridy but under-represented in accounts by RTE between 2017 and 2022" data-source="PA">

The most controversial aspect of the deal was RTE’s decision to underwrite the payments, which effectively resulted in the publicly funded broadcaster stumping up to cover the costs.

This was done in the first year by issuing a 75,000 euro credit note to Renault in exchange for the motoring company paying Tubridy, and in years two and three, when Renault were no longer involved, by paying Tubridy from its own funds using a UK-based commercial barter account.

The other 120,000 euro of undeclared payments involved in the controversy relate to Tubridy’s salary across the years 2017-19.

During an appearance before a parliamentary committee, Tubridy said that a 120,000 payment due at the end of his 2015-2019 contract had been waived by him.

He said that RTE had suggested that it should be accounted for by retrospectively under-reporting his salary across several years, which he said he had objected to.

The crisis at the broadcaster has widened beyond Tubridy’s pay to RTE’s internal financial, accounting and governance practices and its expenditure on corporate hospitality for advertising clients.

Media Minister Catherine Martin has launched external reviews into RTE and appointed forensic accountant Mazars to look into RTE’s barter account.

Discussions on a new long-term funding arrangement for the broadcaster have also been paused.

Auditors from Grant Thornton were brought in by the board of RTE to validate the fees paid to RTE’s top 10 earners, and to examine the 120,000 euro understatement of Tubridy’s fees.

The RTE board said in a statement to PA: “The second Grant Thornton Report has been furnished and will now be the subject of detailed consideration by both the Audit and Risk Committee of the RTE Board and the broader board itself.

“This process is ongoing.”

Tubridy has remained off air from his weekday morning radio show since the controversy erupted at the end of June. He is still being paid by RTE as its new director-general Kevin Bakhurst decides whether he should return to the airwaves.

During his appearance before two committees last month, Tubridy said he had been “publicly cancelled” and it was “touch and go” whether he would be allowed to return to his weekly radio programme.

He said he wants to return to the airwaves as soon as possible “because it’s all I’ve got”.

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