Read the full text of Kevin Bakhurst’s email to RTÉ staff
The new director-general sent the message on Monday morning
it is a real honour to join RTÉ today as Director-General, albeit in what is a very difficult time for the organisation collectively, and for each and every one of you individually.
Like you, I have been appalled by recent events and the impact it has had on the public perception of RTÉ, the impact on the trust the public places in us, and the impact it has had on you all. I look forward to working with Siún Ní Raghallaigh and the RTÉ Board as we collectively set out to rebuild trust in RTÉ, inside and outside, starting from today.
I know that all of you are deeply upset and angry. RTÉ is full of talented and hard-working people who remain committed to delivering a vital public service to our audiences, and you have been let down by RTÉ management. I have heard many of your concerns already and I will continue to listen to what you have to say.
I plan to be a visible and available Director-General. I am currently scheduling in meetings with teams across the organisation so that I get to meet as many of you as possible throughout this week and next.
I hope to make it to Galway next week to meet with colleagues, including those in RTÉ Raidío na Gaeltachta and Nuacht RTÉ, and I'll also meet with TG4 while I'm there. I'll be in RTÉ Cork on Wednesday-week, meeting colleagues there.
I'll arrange a visit to our Limerick studios soon and to our regional offices. Engaging with you, wherever you are, will be important to me throughout my time as Director-General.
Change will be essential if we are to rebuild trust in public service broadcasting in Ireland and in RTÉ. While there will be much to share with you in the coming weeks and months, here are four changes I want to share with you today:
Interim Leadership Team
I am standing down the Executive Board today. It will be replaced with a temporary interim leadership team to continue running the organisation. In due course, there will be a new permanent leadership team.
I want to underline that RTÉ, under my leadership and that of the re-constituted Interim Leadership Team, will be an organisation dedicated to working closely with you, to listening, to being open and transparent, to strictly adhering to revised and rigorous governance processes and procedures, to being accountable and to delivering a public service to be proud of.
This will take time, but it will happen. It must. There is too much at stake. I will share details of the Interim Leadership Team later today. In advance of that, I can confirm that RTÉ will publish the salaries of the Executive/permanent Interim Leadership Team along with the earnings of RTÉ's 10 highest paid presenters in our annual report every year, starting with Annual Report 2023.
As you will no doubt have heard yesterday evening, Rory Coveney has resigned from RTÉ. I want to express my sincere thanks to Rory for his significant contribution to public service media during his time in RTÉ. I wish him the very best for the future.
While RTÉ has robust processes and rigorous oversight of finances in many parts of the organisation, issues which have arisen relating to the barter accounts and a number of associated transactions, payment of fees to certain contractors, negotiations with agents and the processes around certain decisions have highlighted gaps in our processes and procedures which have caused us considerable harm.
From today, all significant decisions will be agreed by the whole of the Interim Leadership Team and a record of discussions leading to these decisions will be compiled. There can be no repeat of the siloed and at times secretive decision-making that have been at the root of the shameful events of the past weeks. As custodians of public money, our financial integrity must be on a par with our editorial integrity.
Register of Interests
As part of my commitment to increased openness and transparency, we are expediting the establishment of a Register of Interests for staff and contractors, in consultation with the TUG. I have asked RTÉ's Freedom of Information Officer to take the lead in a scoping out this important process and to look at RTÉ's legal obligations as well as the operation of registers and declarations of interest in the civil service and in broadcasters internationally.
In addition, Acting Interim Director General, Adrian Lynch has written to all relevant line managers in RTÉ seeking clarification on any potential breaches of RTÉ's journalism and content guidelines and meetings are underway in this regard. This is long overdue and as new cases come to light which continue damage trust in RTÉ, I'm sure you will recognise the urgency and importance of this process.
For the above to happen, the culture in RTÉ needs change, from top to bottom. RTÉ needs to quickly and meaningfully evolve into an organisation that is focused on its people and the public we serve.
So, from today, and notwithstanding processes already underway and reviews announced by Minister Martin, I will work with Eimear Cusack and HR to co-ordinate a review of roles and grades, pay, and gender equality; I will look at how, what and when we communicate more fully with you, and how we involve you in the decisions we make.
Included in this will be the development of a staff consultation group to meet regularly with me and other members of the Leadership Group and a comprehensive employee survey. I understand that these will raise questions, so I will share further details with you on both of these and more soon.
Inevitably, I will be sharing much of this and other thoughts in my various conversations with media throughout the week, starting from today. I intend to be open with and available to our media, in RTÉ and elsewhere. It is important that audiences and licence fee payers see the change we will bring and that we are accountable for it.
I will also be engaging with a broad range of external stakeholders; the independent sector in particular makes a valued contribution to RTÉ’s output, and decisions about RTÉ have wider impacts within the media sector overall.
I would like to thank all of you for the way you have maintained high quality and rigorous content and coverage during the last few weeks. I am aware that this hasn't been easy - but once again the underlying credibility of RTÉ has rested on your work and commitment.
These are the major announcements for today. More will follow in the days and weeks ahead and I will keep you all closely informed. I hope to see as many of you around in the days to come and I'm happy to hear your thoughts and answer your questions.
In the end, words aren't enough on their own, and it is now time for action and change. I am absolutely determined to introduce that change and reform which will help us draw a line under this shameful period in RTÉ's history and to start rebuilding trust in public service broadcasting, hour by hour and day by day. I believe that together we will. We must.
Ní neart go cur le chéile.