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Musical sponsorship ‘not in line with general practice’

A report into Toy Show the Musical has found that the recording of the show’s sponsorship money was “not in line with generally accepted accounting practices”.

The Grant Thornton report, which was released today, found there was “no objective justification” for the way a figure of €75,000 was recorded which led to an overstating of sponsorship revenue.

“On a combined basis, there was no change to the total revenues recorded and reported by RTÉ and subject to external audit,” the report concludes.

“I find that this does not take away from the fact that Toy Show The Musical sponsorship revenue was overstated by €75,000 and spot revenue was understated by €75,000 in the books and records for the year ending 31 December 2022,” according to the report.

The report found that there was no monetary gain or loss caused to RTÉ arising from the way the money was accounted for.

In a report to the RTÉ Board in February 2023, it was stated that there would be event sponsorship of €120,000 for the musical but in July 2023, that sponsorship income figure was lowered to €45,000, a reduction of €75,000.

The Grant Thorton report found additional costs relating to the musical of €69,628 that were not included previously in the reported figures.

It brings the total loss of Toy Show The Musical to €2,272,859.

The report concludes that based on the planned number of shows, the musical would have struggled to break even.

“In respect of tickets sales, my analysis identifies that at no point in time were there more than 35 shows on sale to the public,” the report found.

“I find that the actual levels of ticket sales and this reduced number of shows represented a significant risk that Toy Show The Musical would not breakeven,” according to the report.

Dee Forbes

The report states that the former Director General of RTÉ Dee Forbes was unable to participate in the review for medical reasons.

A draft copy of the report was sent to Ms Forbes’ solicitor to give her an opportunity to comment if that was possible.

“Ms Forbes was unable to review and comment on or instruct her solicitor to respond to the draft report for medical reasons,” the report found.

The report’s author states that the only director he did not interact with was the former director general.

No record of approval by RTÉ Board

The Grant Thorton report states that it found no evidence in the minutes of meetings of the Board of RTÉ recording the approval of Toy Show the Musical whether by way of the outcome of a vote, or a consensus reached.

The report found that board approval was required for the show but that there is “a diversity of views” among members about whether approval was provided by the RTÉ Board.

Some directors said they did not receive documentation in advance of meetings and that oral presentations about the musical were presented as a “fait accompli” or as a “briefing”.

Others commented that there was little interrogation of the financials and audience numbers, with some of the members of the board acknowledging that with hindsight, more questions should have been asked about the show.

“I have found no evidence that at the relevant time members of the RTÉ Board raised this issue of approval,” the report states.

The report found that not all of the directors were requested to convene together at the relevant times to formally discuss Toy Show the Musical.

It makes reference to a ‘Combo Meeting’ where a selection of directors, external consultants and some member of the RTÉ Executive discussed Toy Show the Musical.

However, the report notes that this was not a meeting of the Board of Directors of RTÉ.

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