By Gordon Deegan
The revenues at the media firms operated by two of RTE's best-paid presenters, Joe Duffy and Marian Finucane soared last year.
New accounts show that revenue at Marian Finucane’s firm, Montrose Services Ltd jumped by almost €100,000 to €624,991 in the 12 months to the end of October last.
During the same period, accumulated profits at the company increased by €37,518 going from €1.027m to €1.064m.
The increase in profits came in spite of a non-cash €60,000 write-down in the value of the company’s intangible assets going from €540,000 to €480,000.
The company's revenue increased by €93,305.
The latest RTE figures published show that Ms Finucane was the station’s fifth best-paid presenter in 2015 when she received a salary of €295,000 - the same level as 2014.
Ms Finucane presents two top-rated shows on Saturday and Sunday mornings and the latest JNLR figures show that Marian’s Sunday show gained 30,000 more listeners to 346,000.
Separate accounts filed by Joe Duffy’s Claddaghgreen Ltd show that revenue at the company jumped by €92,788 going from €458,456 to €551,244 in the 12 months to the end of April last.
The accumulated profits at the company jumped by €62,638 going from €373,059 to €435,697 during the period.
The most recent RTE ‘Top 10’ pay figures show that the Ballyfermot man was the third best-paid RTE presenter in 2015 with pay of €389,988 - though this was a drop on the €416,893 paid out in 2014.
The most recent JLNR figures show that Duffy increased listenership going from 370,000 to 373,000 with his show continuing to drive public debate here on a variety of issues.
Most recently, debate in the Dáil on a number of occasions has focused on the afternoon show being deluged with calls from people unhappy over the HSE withdrawing funding for the Versatis pain relief patch for a large cohort.
This prompted Fianna Fáil leader, Michael Martin to tell the Dáil “it seems that the only patient advocacy service in the country is Liveline, courtesy of broadcaster Joe Duffy”.
In reply, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris remarked that policy on medication should be “decided by doctors rather than radio shows”.
Each year, Liveline and the Marian Finucane shows generate substantial advertising revenues for the State broadcaster but RTE doesn’t provide a breakdown of advertising revenues generated by each show.
The two are not paid employees of RTE and instead are employed as contractors where their pay includes no pension contributions from the State broadcaster.
Born in Dublin in 1956, Duffy joined RTÉ Radio as a producer in 1989. Since then, the father of teenage triplets has worked his way through several shows, first as a reporter on The Gay Byrne Show and then as presenter of several programmes including the media programme Soundbyte.
Duffy’s income is also boosted by being a weekly columnist with the Irish Mail on Sunday.
Duffy’s 2011 autobiography revealed his "insecurity and worry" at being told by RTE he was not entitled to sick pay as he is not directly employed by the station but is a contractor.
The Liveline presenter was informed of the development prior to undergoing a second operation on a severely broken leg.
He wrote: “In my 23 years in RTE, I only took one single day off sick prior to being knocked down, so I thought the decision to refuse me sick pay was unfair, to say the least.”