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How did RTÉ underwrite a Renault pay deal as car sales fell off a pandemic cliff edge – Dillon

27th June 2023 - Alan Dillon, TD

The decision by RTÉ’s former Director General Dee Forbes to underwrite a commercial pay deal with Renault despite car sales falling off a cliff edge thanks to the worldwide pandemic is astonishing, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Deputy Alan Dillon said more questions than answers have arisen from the statement issued by RTÉ’s Interim Deputy Director-General, Adrian Lynch, this evening.

Deputy Dillon sits on both the Oireachtas Media and Public Accounts Committee who will hear from RTÉ executives tomorrow and Thursday.

The Mayo TD asked how could the former RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes negotiate and finally agree, throughout March to July 2020, to guarantee and underwrite a pay deal with Late Late Show sponsors, Renault, when the pandemic had resulted in car sales falling off a cliff edge throughout that time.

“What kind of business is being run at RTÉ? Everyone knew back then that the retail business for car dealerships collapses. Forecourts had to close and car prices plummeted.

“According to RTÉ, Ms Forbes verbally agreed to underwrite the deal on May 7, 2020. There is an RTE report from May 11, 2020 showing new car licences in April 2020 plummeted by more than 90pc and imports collapsed.[1]

“And despite all this, Ms Forbes and RTÉ carry on regardless with the new contract and underwriting deal throughout May, June and July resulting in contracts being executed in July 2020. They had no business regard to what was happening across the world. It is unbelievable,” Deputy Dillon said.

Deputy Dillon also said there are inconsistencies and contradictions from what RTÉ have published today and what their former Director General Dee Forbes said yesterday in her statement.

“We are left with more questions as to the running of the national broadcaster,” he said.

This evening, the RTÉ statement said ‘No member of the RTÉ Executive Board, other than the Director General, had all the necessary information in order to understand that the publicly declared figures for Ryan Tubridy could have been wrong.’

However, yesterday, Ms Forbes said, ‘Following detailed discussions including numerous internal communications over many months with RTÉ colleagues, including finance and legal colleagues, an agreement was reached which delivered cost savings for RTÉ. This agreement meant that the commercial partner would enter into a separate commercial contract with Ryan Tubridy for €75k in exchange for the provision of three events annually’.

Deputy Dillon said these two statements do not tally.

“We are still no clearer towards the truth on this.

“The former Director General said there was detailed discussions with numerous internal communications with her RTÉ colleagues on the issue while her interim successor states that only Ms Forbes had all information to understand that the previously published wages for Ryan Tubridy were wrong.

“We need a full account from all involved,” Deputy Dillon said.


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