STV chiefs under fire after snubbing Holyrood appearance

STV's headquarters in Glasgow
STV's headquarters in Glasgow
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MSPs have hit out after the chair of the broadcaster and its major shareholder snubbed a request to appear before them to explain swingeing cutbacks.

Baroness Ford, the chair of the broadcaster, last night declined to appear before Holyrood's culture committee to answer questions about job losses, the closure of STV2 and the strategic review of the broadcaster.

Leading shareholder Crystal Amber has also rejected a request to give evidence, while the committee says it has been "rebuffed" by STV in its request for a copy of the channel’s review strategy document. Chief Executive Simon Pitts said during an evidence session earlier this month that he would consider a request to share the document , but now claims |"commercial responsibilities" prevent this being provided.

Read more: STV confirms channel closure and job losses
Committee Convener Joan McAlpine said: “The refusal of STV to hand over its strategy document after saying it would consider our request is very disappointing.

“I’m also unimpressed by the refusal of Crystal Amber to appear before our committee, as it was clear from earlier evidence that these were strategic decisions made by the board.

“Crystal Amber calls itself an "active investor" meaning as the largest shareholder it is very much involved in the direction of the company.

“These cumulative refusals make it imperative that the chair of the board, Baroness Ford, reconsiders our invitation to appear before MSPs on 28 June.”

Read more: STV staff reaffirm support for ballot on industrial action
A total of 59 jobs are at risk at the broadcaster as a result of the cuts and staff yesterday backed the option of industrial action over the dispute.

Deputy Convener, Claire Baker said: “Questions still remain to be answered by STV on the cuts to its news service in Scotland. Our cross-party committee would expect the board of STV to recognise the importance of our invitation to give further evidence.”

A spokesperson for STV said: “Baroness Ford has confirmed to the CTEER committee that she is unable to attend its 28th June session due to prior long-standing commitments, namely the AGM of the STV Children’s Appeal and the STV plc Board meeting. Regardless of this, our Chief Executive Simon Pitts and Managing Director, Broadcast, Bobby Hain provided extensive and detailed information and responses to the committee on 7th June and our Chairman and Board are satisfied that this evidence provided a clear and comprehensive overview of the future growth strategy for STV.

“We do, however, wish to clarify an assumption made by the committee Convenor. Our strategic plan was developed by our executive directors and approved by the STV Plc Board. Crystal Amber does not sit on the STV Board and in common with all other shareholders, did not develop or set our business’s future growth strategy.

“We are continuing to actively engage in a consultation process with staff and trade union partners on the implementation of our news reorganisation. We are making good progress in reducing the scope of compulsory redundancies to the extent that the NUJ confirmed yesterday that they will not be initiating industrial action.”