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‘Changed needed at the top of RTE’ – Irish premier

It comes as the Irish national broadcaster has been reeling from revelations that it under-reported the salary paid to star presenter Ryan Tubridy.

Change is needed at the top of RTE, the Irish premier has said.

Leo Varadkar was speaking as the Irish national broadcaster remains at the centre of a storm following revelations last month that it under-reported the salary paid to star presenter Ryan Tubridy.

Kevin Bakhurst has been appointed as the new director-general of RTE and is expected to publicly outline his plans on Monday to “restore trust” in the organisation.

RTE pay revelations
Kevin Bakhurst, the new director-general of RTE, is expected to announce new plans for the broadcaster soon (Liam McBurney/PA)

Speaking during a visit to Co Clare on Saturday, the Taoiseach said he is reassured by what he has said to Government.

“I think we need to see change in RTE, without change, I don’t think that trust can be restored,” he said.

“I understand that the new director-general Kevin Bakhurst is going to make some announcements on Monday in relation to changes to the organisation, the way the management is structured and also is going to deal with issues around conflicts of interest.

“I am very reassured in what he has said to Government and it’s important that he be allowed to set out those plans on Monday and to talk to staff first and then to inform the wider nation about those changes and he’s going to make them quickly.”

Asked his views on reform of the TV license, Mr Varadkar said the current system needs to be overhauled.

“It’s a really old fashioned way of collecting revenue based on ownership of a TV, a device that many people just don’t have anymore and almost all the money goes to RTE even though there are many other bodies involved in broadcasting outside public service broadcasting.

“So I think reform of the TV licence is long overdue and I want that to happen during this Government.

“I can see the political temptation to put it off for another government or another Dail, but I do not want to do that, and I want to make sure we have a new system up and running during the lifetime of this Government.”

RTE pay revelations
It was revealed that RTE under-reported the salary paid to star presenter Ryan Tubridy (Damien Eagers/PA)

The furore around RTE’s failure to disclose 345,000 euro of additional payments to Ryan Tubridy between 2017 and 2022 has since widened.

There have been further disclosures about the broadcaster’s internal financial, accounting and governance practices and its expenditure on corporate hospitality for advertising clients.

The Irish government has already announced two separate external reviews of RTE and also moved to send in a forensic auditor to examine the broadcaster’s accounts.

Meanwhile two parliamentary committees in Dublin are conducting their own examinations of the situation.

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