Star presenter Ryan Tubridy was due to return to hosting his RTE radio programme in September before he appeared to question the organisation’s statements on his previous earnings, according to the head of the national broadcaster.
The details of Tubridy’s mothballed return emerged after director-general Kevin Bakhurst announced trust had “broken down” and there are now no plans for him to resume presenting at RTE.
Tubridy, who was the highest earner at the national broadcaster, has been off since June 22 after a scandal emerged that RTE had understated his earnings.
According to revised figures from RTE, Tubridy earned as much as 545,000 euros in 2019 and earned 515,000 euros in 2022.
Reports into how figures for his fees had been mis-stated found that Tubridy had no involvement and there was no wrongdoing on the part of the presenter.
Mr Bakhurst, who started as director-general at the height of an ever-expanding scandal at the broadcaster, continued negotiating Tubridy’s return to his daily radio programme until Wednesday.
Critically, the talks were thrown into crisis after Tubridy released a statement which appeared to question RTE’s decision to restate his earnings for 2020-2021 following a highly anticipated report into the matter.
RTE had upwardly revised the publicly stated figures on Tubridy’s earnings for that period after it emerged he was paid additional money for a commercial arrangement with a sponsor.
However, Tubridy said on Wednesday the original figures were correct.
It is understood he felt the original figures for his RTE payment were correct as the fee for the commercial arrangement was paid by Renault and a UK barter account for the years RTE had chosen to underwrite the deal.
Speaking to RTE’s Prime Time current affairs programme, Mr Bakhurst said “a number of thorny issues” had been overcome in negotiating Tubridy’s return.
He said this included his salary and the repayment of 150,000 euros which was paid to Tubridy as part of RTE’s decision to underwrite unfulfilled commercial commitments.
Mr Bakhurst said Tubridy had planned to return the money.
Asked when Tubridy was due to return, Mr Bakhurst said: “The plan was to get him back on September 4 on to his show on Radio One.
“Also, part of the deal under discussion was about Ryan doing a podcast as well.”
He said the agreement involved Tubridy, who was previously the organisation’s highest earner, returning on 170,000 euros per year.
However, Mr Bakhurst said he was “particularly disappointed” with Tubridy’s statement.
Speaking to RTE’s Nine O’Clock News, he said: “I just think for the sake of rebuilding trust, which is my focus with the organisation, we can’t afford to be questioning the facts that are out there.”
He added: “I don’t actually feel Ryan was best served by the people around him who advised him on making that statement.”
However, the director-general said the “door is still open” for a future return for Tubridy.
Separately, Mr Bakhurst said Tubridy’s planned fee reduction was part of a wider strategy to lower the amount paid to the broadcaster’s presenters when their contracts come up for renegotiation.