The chairwoman of the broadcaster’s board said the report confirms a ‘siloed management culture’, ‘poor internal communication and weak processes’.
A second report into RTE’s under-declaration of fees to its star presenter, Ryan Tubridy, confirms a “siloed management culture”, “poor internal communication and weak processes”, the chairwoman of the broadcaster’s board has said.
Siun Ni Raghallaigh was speaking after the second report from advisory services company Grant Thornton was published on Wednesday.
Compiled by a specialist forensic accountant, it examines how Tubridy’s declared fees between 2017 and 2019 were understated by 120,000 euro (£103,100).
It suggested it is possible that the adjustments were made with an “RTE objective to achieve a position where the ‘revised earnings’ for each year 2017, 2018, and 2019 were all below 500,000 euro” (£429,600).
The report concluded: “Having conducted my exercise, on the balance of probabilities, I find that, in the absence of any other further explanations, my hypothetical exercise (which assumed the adjustments were made with an RTE objective to achieve a position where the ‘revised earnings’ for each year 2017, 2018, and 2019 were all below 500,000 euro) provides a very plausible explanation as to how the values of the adjustments of 20,000 euro, 50,000 euro and 50,000 euro were calculated or allocated by RTE for 2017, 2018, and 2019 respectively.”
Media minister Catherine Martin and the RTE board are examining the report after it was handed to them this week.
It is the latest development in the controversy surrounding how RTE handles fees to its presenters as well as wider financial, accounting and governance practices at Ireland’s public service broadcaster.
The issue came to light when RTE stated in June that it had underdeclared Tubridy’s fees, already its highest paid presenter, by 345,000 euro (£296,400) from the years 2017-2022.
Of that amount, 225,000 euro (£193,200) related to three 75,000 euro (£64,400) annual payments received by Tubridy for proposed public appearances for Renault, as part of a tripartite agreement involving the sponsor, RTE and the presenter.
The most criticised 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.
RTE issued a 75,000 euro (£64,400) credit note to Renault for the first year in exchange for the motoring company paying Tubridy, and in years two and three, when Renault was no longer involved, it paid Tubridy from its own funds using a UK-based commercial barter account.
This aspect of the fees was examined in a Grant Thornton report that was completed in June.
The other 120,000 euro (£103,100) of undeclared payments involved in the controversy relate to Tubridy’s salary across the years 2017-19.
The Grant Thornton report published on Wednesday found there were “several failings” that had led to Tubridy’s fees for 2017-2019 being incorrectly stated.
It also found that RTE acted correctly and appropriately when it declared in June 2023 that Tubridy’s fees had been underdeclared for the period 2017-2022.
Reacting to the report, Ms Ni Raghallaigh said: “Regrettably, this report confirms our view of the siloed management culture that has prevailed in RTE and supports the decision by the board to initiate an ongoing programme of corrective action.”
She said the report paints a picture “of poor internal communication and weak processes”, and outlines dates where “errors could have been corrected but were not”.
“It is also clear from the report that the then Executive did not properly engage with the board on these matters, nor was relevant information provided to the board by the Executive or by the auditors.”
She added that the issues highlighted in the report will be raised with RTE’s auditors, Deloitte, and said steps “have been taken to ensure there can be no repeat of these failures”.