STV chief to be quizzed over seven-figure pay package

STV chief executive Simon Pitts will today be challenged on the more than £1 million he has made in wages, shares and a 'golden hello' at a time when the television station is planning to make redundancies.
STV chief executive Simon Pitts. Picture: Laurence WinramSTV chief executive Simon Pitts. Picture: Laurence Winram
STV chief executive Simon Pitts. Picture: Laurence Winram

Mr Pitts will be asked to explain why he is making dozens of STV workers redundant to make savings while benefiting from a seven-figure remuneration package.

The chief executive will be quizzed by Labour MSP Claire Baker when he appears in front of Holyrood’s culture, tourism and external affairs committee today.

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Last month the broadcaster announced it will close its STV2 channel at the end of June and will slash its news operations with the combined loss of 59 jobs.

The cuts have been put in place to deliver savings of £1m per year – just less than Mr Pitts’s total wage package of £1.2m.

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Ahead of the meeting, Ms Baker said: “These job losses are not only a devastating blow to those workers affected but to Scotland’s entire media industry.

“For a national broadcaster to scale back its news operations in a bid to make ‘savings’ whilst its chief executive pockets more than £1m is deeply concerning.

“I am keen to hear how Simon Pitts can justify a gold-plated remuneration package whilst making staff redundant under the guise of cost-cutting.

“Scotland needs a strong and independent news sector to hold both governments at Westminster and Holyrood to account.”

Ms Baker added: “STV have been lauded for its local and national news and politics coverage, these redundancies seriously risk undermining that.”

Mr Pitts is paid a basic annual salary of £400,000. Upon joining STV he was handed a cash payment of £187,000 and deferred shares valued at £666,000. His total remuneration package is £1,253,000.

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The cuts at STV have been condemned by politicians including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

At First Minister’s Questions last month Ms Sturgeon said she was “disappointed and concerned” by the development. She argued that it was “more important than ever” that a Scottish perspective was evident on local, national and international news.

Last night STV declined to comment ahead of Mr Pitts’s appearance at the committee.

When the scale of Mr Pitts’s wage was revealed, STV chairwoman Baroness Ford said his package of shares and golden hello cash payment were “usual practice”.

The “one-off payment” was to compensate Mr Pitts for his shareholding at ITV, which she insisted was “usual ­practice in public companies when very senior executives transfer from one company to another”.