RTÉ expenses report provokes outcry

A news report on the front page of The Irish Times at the weekend outlining the expenses claimed by senior RTÉ executives has provoked a strong reaction from a number of marketing and media executives. In a post published on the LinkedIn social media platform, Ciarán Norris, who is the global agency lead on the Omnicom account at Meta, described the report as “prurient, bad journalism, purporting to be acting in the public interest”.

The story was based on records released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Norris said that the article does nothing other than reduce public trust in public service media at a time when such institutions are more important than ever. He asked: “How much does the Irish Times‘ media sales team spend on expenses? What is the benchmark for how much is reasonable? This article provides no such context, thereby inviting the reader to assume that such claims are unreasonable or even inappropriate.

“I am pretty sure they are neither and the Times should be ashamed for allowing people to make the assumption that they are,” he added. Commenting on the post, Suzanne McGann, director of marketing and communications at The Convention Centre, labelled the story as “lazy journalism” and an example of “poor judgement”. Justin Cullen, chair of Junk Couture, said the article was “completely irrelevant” at this point of the RTÉ story.


In his reaction to Norris’s post, Edward Lloyd, director of The ComFederation in the UK, commented that looking at the big picture, if RTÉ wants to get more of the “two islands’ budget” it needs to present itself as a top table player when wooing global clients. “If London takes them to the Ivy (restaurant), does anyone really think ‘a milky coffee’ at the station cafe is going to make RTÉ look like a serious player?” Lloyd asked.

Garret O’Beirne, public affairs marketing and global strategy and programs at Meta, described the article as “disingenuous, with no effort to put the spend in context”. He said RTÉ are tasked with competing in a highly competitive marketplace and from previous experience their practices were very much the industry norm, and not at the extravagant end, for client entertainment. If anything, for a five-year period, they were pretty modest.

To read The Irish Times article from the weekend edition, click here

Pictured is former RTÉ director general Dee Forbes





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