Earlier this year in the UK the BBC were forced to bring 85 of their highly paid presenters on to their full time staff in order to stamp out the tax avoidance that was taking place by paying many of their presenters through personal service companies. This move was the result of a recommendation by the House of Commons Public Accounts committee which described the practice as “staggeringly inappropriate”. We are all aware that many of the high paid presenters working for RTE are utilizing similar methods to reduce their tax bills. When I asked the Minister if he would consider a similar move to the UK he avoided any responsibility in the matter, here is a quote from the Department of Communications website followed by Clare’s question to the minister:
“The Department is responsible for the development of the legislative and regulatory framework for broadcasting and for certain media in Ireland. We are responsible for developing policy in relation to the funding of the public service broadcasters, RTÉ & TG4 and the development of the broadcasting sector in general.”
To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider the adoption of legislation to curtail the practice by the national broadcaster of paying high earning television and radio presenters through personal service companies rather than as full time staff, in view of the fact that this practice has been curtailed in other jurisdictions. – Clare Daly.
RTÉ is an independent national public service broadcaster whose remit and obligations are set out in the Broadcasting Act 2009.
Section 114 (1) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 states the principal objects and associated powers of RTÉ and Section 98 provides that it shall be independent in the pursuance of these objects, subject to the requirements of the Act. As such I, as Minister, have no function in RTÉ’s management of day to day matters including general staff remuneration and contracts. These are purely matters for RTÉ management who in accordance with the company’s obligations under Section 105 of the Broadcasting Act 2009, seek to manage their full cost base in a way that ensures the financial sustainability of the company.
There are no proposals to change these legislative provisions.