Kudos to RTE for destroying the market value of one of their biggest assets. Not that RTE is brimming with marketable talent.
The role of an agent is not to ensure that RTE follows the requirements of its own internal audit department and, indeed, of its external auditors. If the bill had said “for marketing services” instead of “for consulting services,” it wouldn’t even have been misleading.
Large companies such as Renault frequently use external marketing or public relations agencies to organize specific events. There was no reason for Noel Kelly to assume that the instruction to invoice Astus was anything other than standard practice at RTE. In fact, it was: RTE had three separate barter accounts to support numerous promotional and entertainment activities.
We also do not know the full extent of RTE’s business deals with Renault, of which Ryan Tubridy’s payments were only a small part. Had RTE agreed to provide additional promotional activities in exchange for Renault becoming the title sponsor of the Late Late Show?
Describing Noel Kelly’s claim that he was simply following the process prescribed by RTE as “the Nuremberg defense” is absurd and disrespectful to the millions of victims of Nazi atrocities. What else was he supposed to do, when his only role was to make sure that his client was paid the pre-agreed sums?
Ryan Tubridy was not only paid significantly less than his predecessor Pat Kenny, but also took a 20% pay cut during Covid and turned down a €120,000 loyalty bonus. That he, as an independent contractor, would undertake additional work for Renault to be paid for separately was nobody’s business but him and RTE and Renault. Hold them accountable for it, instead of trying to tarnish the reputation of Mr. Tubridy, who promised to carry out the additional work in good faith.
Fintan O’Toole adds insult to injury by declaring that “Tubridy went to Father Ted’s defense: the money was just sitting in my account,” suggesting that Tubridy was embezzling money that was never due to him. The fact is that he agreed to lead nine Late Late Show-style events for Renault, six of which were delayed by the pandemic. If Renault, or whoever succeeds it as main sponsor of the Late Late show, decides not to continue with them, Tubridy has agreed to refund the amounts paid. He can’t do fairer than that.
Whatever happens with Ryan Tubridy as the Irish broadcaster, it is abundantly clear that several senior executives at RTE tried to mislead the public and then sought to place the blame on Mr Tubridy and his agent. In doing so, they did far more damage to RTE’s reputation and reputation than any dubious expense accounting.
Ryan Tubridy may have been overpaid, but at least he was doing his job, unlike the highly paid top executives at RTE. Unfortunately, the lack of responsibility for mistakes is a constant in all aspects of Irish public life. It is the management of RTE that must be radically streamlined. Unless that happens, Ryan Tubridy would do well to take his talents elsewhere.
Frank Schnittger is a former senior executive of a leading multinational company in Dublin and London and has an MA in Peace Studies from Trinity College. He has been a director of various charities and voluntary organizations in the community development, education, holistic addiction treatment and restorative justice sectors. He is editor of the European Tribune and moderator of the Irish Rugby Fan Forum.