Conduct issues at ITV revealed in press office handling of media request

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As the scandal surrounding ITV continues to build with company bosses set to be hauled before a Government committee next week, media and marketing industry news site Mediashotz also has first hand experience of dealing with a culture of secrecy and refusal to engage with media within the broadcaster.

In early April Mediashotz contacted ITV’s press centre with a list of questions about how ITV planned to make changes to its This Morning programme in the wake of growing questions around its presenter, Phillip Schofield.

Questions for ITV, not Schofield

Mediashotz questions were wholly focused on ITV’s management and how it planned to act in a responsible manner to the huge speculation around its presenting team.

Mediashotz believes that ITV had a duty to answer questions about the issue, not least for its viewers, its investors and for its regulator Ofcom.

This should be underscored by the fact that ITV is a high-profile publicly-listed company, whose shares trade on the London Stock Exchange, and is a member of the elite FTSE 250 group of leading British companies,

The questions included those concerning the broadcaster’s corporate social responsibility policies and action plans for when one of its presenters’ activities become a subject of public concern.

ITV’s press office did not reply to the Mediashotz email.

However, what it did instead, came as a total shock and surprise, given that Mediashotz has regularly covered stories about ITV, its growth, programme commissions, celebrities, and so on, for more than four years. The site carries more than 260 ITV-related stories.

Mediashotz received an email from Jonathan Coad, Phillip Schofield’s lawyer at the time, claiming that ITV had passed the email intended for ITV management, to Schofield’s agent, YMU, who subsequently passed it directly to him.

Coad included in his email to Mediashotz an open letter regarding the upcoming conviction of Phillip Schofield’s brother Timothy for sexual assault on a minor.

In the email Coad suggested that ITV will have responded to Mediashotz questions, and expressed surprise when he was told that ITV had not responded at all. coat then apologised for his mistake and said he was sorry for the lack of response.

Mediashotz is of course a small media publisher, very much still in startup mode. However, like any media outlet, longstanding relationships need to be maintained in all circumstances and not just when we are sharing positive news stories about the companies a news operation covers.

Mediashotz felt intimidated into silence by the manner in which ITV decided to deal with its request for information.

The fact that ITV’s press office, which is headed by board member, Paul Moore, who is named as Group Communications and Corporate Affairs Director, chose to ignore Mediashotz’ genuine interest in the growing issues around one of its presenters is one thing, but to then pass that email onto third party representatives of the very presenter in question shows it had little respect for the press relations process.

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Dame Carolyn McCall, CEO, ITV.

As we now know, the entire company is now embroiled in a scandal that could yet see the removal of CEO, Dame Carolyn McCall, among many other senior figures, and Mediashotz believes that the manner in which its request was treated by its press office should also be placed under investigation.

Mediashotz feels the way it was treated by ITV’s press office displayed an arrogant disregard for media enquiry, and this could be interpreted as an example of further failings within the management structure to remain accountable to the national audience from its profits hugely.