RTÉ’s New Direction Plan Comes Fraught With Challenges

RTÉ - Kevin Bakhurst - Sign
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RTÉ has published its new strategic plan – ‘A New Direction‘ which confirms the organisation is looking to reduce the number of employees by 400 people.

The broadcaster will also significantly increase investment in independent production sector.

The document also claims that the besieged broadcaster will be more transparent and accountable after its summer from hell in trying to explains overpayments to Ryan Tubridy.

A new salary cap will mean nobody can make more than RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst thereby ensuring pay cuts for Joe Duffy, Claire Byrne and Miriam O’Callaghan.

The broadcaster’s own figures show that Joe Duffy is on €351,000, Claire Byrne earns €280,000 while Miriam O’Callaghan picks up €263,500.

The RTÉ strategic review says: “The setting of a maximum pay cap (no salary will exceed that of the Director-General), and a review of and reduction of allowances, as well as an evaluation of options for the future use of the Donnybrook campus, including reducing the size of the footprint needed for RTÉ’s production and broadcast facilities.”

In relation to pay, it says: “We will progressively reduce costs and overheads, reallocating some of that spending to deliver on our stated ambitions. We will significantly reduce staff costs through an up to 20pc reduction in head count by 2028, by delivering on the maximum pay cap set in 2023 (as contracts expire and as we hire new people), and by reviewing and reducing allowances.”

It adds: “We will continue to reduce the pay of RTÉ’s highest paid presenters.” One in five jobs to go at RTÉ in wake of payments scandal; leaking of strategy a ‘further blow to trust of staff’, says NUJ

The document rules out selling off the Donnybrook campus because “at this stage it does not appear to be economically viable”.

RTÉ boss Kevin Bakhurst, Director-General said the broadcaster must restore confidence while reducing its operations and output:

As we await a decision on how public media in Ireland will be funded, we recognise the urgent need to restore trust. While RTÉ will become smaller in size across the life of this strategy, the scale of RTÉ’s public service ambition, and our ambition for the role that RTÉ will play in Irish life, will not be diminished.

The destination of this new direction plan is, ultimately, a better RTÉ. RTÉ will deliver high-quality programmes and content and will be more agile so that we can meet evolving audience needs. We will provide better value for money. We will work harder with the independent production sector and diversify outside of Dublin. Over its almost 100-year history, RTÉ has served the public through the talent, integrity and commitment of its staff. Whilst acknowledging that we need to reduce our workforce, we remain committed to supporting and developing the extraordinary people that we have both in RTÉ and across the industry.”

He said that next year will be a “challenging”.

Hard choices will be made. My hope, however, is that we will enter 2025 armed with a robust strategy that makes the best use of the monies available to fund our national media service, monies we will invest as wisely and strategically as possible to improve the invaluable contribution of public service media to life in Ireland.