Not wasting any time after agreeing a deal with RTÉ to succeed Ryan Tubridy as host of the Late Late Show, Patrick Kielty has already set up an Irish-based company — Pamanco Ireland Ltd — with the Nace code “television programming and broadcasting activities”.
The company, which counts Kielty’s UK-based company Boxed Productions Ltd as its shareholder, is presumably the vehicle through which RTÉ will pay him.
As for how much that will be, RTÉ publishes a list of its top 10 on-air earners but it does so retrospectively, usually with a gap of two years, meaning Companies Office documents may give the first indicator of how much RTÉ has had to shell out for his services.
Industry sources say that because UK broadcasting industry rates often skew higher on average than those in the Irish market, and because RTÉ wound up needing Kielty more than Kielty needed RTÉ, he is likely to command a higher sum than the €440,000 Tubridy was paid in 2021 for both the Late Late and his Radio 1 show.
With the Late Late estimated to bring in as much as €6 million a year in advertising, sponsorship and other commercial revenue, angling for more should not have been impossible.
Back in the Noughties, Pat Kenny was paid €900,000 by RTÉ for the Late Late and Today with Pat Kenny, the two-hour mid-morning current affairs show on Radio 1.
In 2011, Tubridy was paid €723,000 for the Late Late and a show on 2fm. Since then, however, his pay has markedly dropped, with RTÉ citing the group-wide collapse in advertising revenues and other financial squeezes upon its operations.
In 2019, when this cash-strapped narrative was to the fore just as Tubridy’s contract was due to be renegotiated, he was paid €495,000, meaning he took a further 11 per cent pay cut between 2019 and 2021.
With the Late Late no longer part of his workload, his pay from RTÉ is likely to fall once more. But it may not be slashed. After all, Radio 1 afternoon presenter Ray D’Arcy was paid €305,000 by RTÉ in 2020 and 2021, a sum for which he did not have to present a television chatshow.
Tubridy will, for now, continue to present the 9am-10am slot on Radio 1, which is the second most listened-to programme on Irish radio behind Morning Ireland, with 335,000 listeners compared to D’Arcy’s 181,000 in the afternoon.
The podcast bubble, meanwhile, has not completely burst. The right deal with the right platform, beyond the confines of Montrose, should allow the broadcaster and author to maintain his earnings, and perhaps even increase them, in his post-Late Late career.