5 MAR 2024

STV's CEO Simon Pitts to leave the broadcaster

STV Group has reported a 22% year-on-year drop in operating profit, attributing the decline to a challenging TV advertising landscape and inflationary cost pressures.

5 MAR 2024

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Simon Pitts will depart the Glasgow-based company STV within the next 12 months to take up a new appointment in the first quarter of 2025. Leading the company since 2018, when he joined from ITV, Pitts has presided over a significant restructuring of the company, re-establishing it as a force in TV production and building a presence in digital news and streaming services. Pitts also oversaw a controversial revamp of news output several months after joining in 2018 in response to the challenge of reporting in the digital age, which led to redundancies. STV announced the process of appointing his successor is underway.

Simon Pitts said: "It has been a huge privilege to lead STV. Since 2018, we have become the most-watched peak-time TV channel in Scotland and retained that position for five years in a row, transformed STV Player into a high-growth streaming service, and created one of the UK's leading TV production groups, and we have today set out further ambitious growth plans for the future. With STV's latest diversification targets fully achieved, now is the right time to plan a smooth and orderly succession. Our leadership team is very strong, our strategy is clear, and it's delivering. Our STV colleagues are doing a fantastic job producing world class programmes, news and digital & commercial products every day of the year, staying ahead of the competition and creating strong foundations for the future. I'd like to express my sincere thanks to Paul [Reynolds, chairman], former chair Margaret Ford and the rest of the board, as well as all my STV colleagues for their unstinting support, drive and creativity over six extremely enjoyable years."

A £20.1 million decrease influenced STV's operating profit slump in higher-margin linear advertising revenue. Despite this setback, the company recorded a 22% increase in revenue, reaching £168.4m, compared to the previous year's £137.8m. However, advertising revenue contracted by 12% to £97.3m.

Analyst Johnathan Barrett of Panmure Gordon said STV's 2023 results "show just how tough the advertising market was." He continued: "The [group's] diversification strategy has clearly helped. Strategic progress in studios and digital helped offset roughly half of the decline in broadcast profit." Barrett also said Pitts "will ultimately hand the business over to a new CEO and leave the business considerably better positioned and with key experienced management in place to continue the development work."

Chairman Paul Reynolds added: "Simon has been an outstanding leader of STV over the past six years. As the architect of our diversification strategy, he has successfully led the transformation of STV from a linear broadcaster into a resilient content creation and digital streaming business with an exciting future."