RTÉ’s response to questions about a trip by senior executives to the Rugby World Cup in Japan is unacceptable and wrong — as is the practice of a “quid pro quo with clients who advertise with them”.
Despite the cash-strapped broadcaster’s obfuscation, this seems to mean these jollies are accepted as payment for advertising.
This benefits employees, while diverting revenue from the organisation. It, amazingly, suggests RTÉ can afford to forego the cash.
That arrangement may have been tolerable in times of plenty, but those days are long gone and a new reality must prevail.
This week, RTÉ director general Dee Forbes outlined the organisation’s precarious finances to an Oireachtas committee, arguing the broadcaster faced a “fight for the future”.
Ms Forbes was challenged about the top-ten salaries, but the details about the Japan junket point to a deeper malaise — an unsustainable, unattractive sense of entitlement.
As Ms Forbes realises, RTÉ needs public and political support to survive.
The Government has indicated it might be more supportive if real, permanent reform is introduced.
If that process is to advance, as it must, Ms Forbes has to make an unambiguous statement, indicating that the practice of accepting anything other than hard cash for advertising has been outlawed.
Anything less, anything with even the tiniest hint of wriggle room, would be a betrayal of the trust, and support, RTÉ enjoys — support that is not guaranteed.