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STV boss defends STV2 channel closure and job cut plans

The broadcaster's chief executive Simon Pitts appeared before MSPs on the culture committee.

STV: STV2 will close at the end of June.
STV: STV2 will close at the end of June. STV

STV chief executive Simon Pitts has appeared before MSPs to defend the broadcaster's plans to close a channel and cut jobs.

Mr Pitts and director of channels Bobby Hain sat before the Scottish Parliament's culture committee on Thursday morning.

Last month, STV said it would close its STV2 channel at the end of June and restructure its news operation, putting a total of 59 jobs at risk.

Mr Pitts told MSPs that the move was "necessary" to guarantee the future of the broadcaster and denied it is being prepared for sale.

He said "hardly anyone" watched STV2 and added that plans to create famous shows in Scotland to be sold worldwide "if we get it right" could create many more jobs.

The changes outlined by STV are expected to save £2m a year, with £5m a year being invested in new programmes.

Mr Pitts said: "I understand how difficult the situation is for the people who facing redundancy. It's horrible.

"We have made a series of difficult decisions that have a real impact on people's lives.

Simon Pitts: Defended planned restructure.
Simon Pitts: Defended planned restructure. ITV

"We have done that in order to be able to grow this business to use the savings we are making in order to re-invest for the future."

He was also challenged to justify his remuneration package in light of the planned job cuts.

Green MSP Ross Greer said: "You, this year, will receive £1.2m in total earnings. There are people in your newsroom on £18,000 a year, journalists who are facing redundancy.

"Now, the harsh decision for them is that that's their livelihood and it must be incredibly hard for them to stomach that when they see people at the other end of the organisation receiving the kind of remuneration that you are.

"Do you understand how harsh that is for them and did you consider forfeiting any of your total potential earnings for this year?"

Mr Pitts said the package had been approved by the STV board and shareholders.

He added: "This is not a strategy to prepare STV for sale to ITV or anyone else. If that were the case, then we simply wouldn't be investing."

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