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21 September 2023

ITV boss says strong leaders are needed to call out inappropriate behaviour

21 September 2023

ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall has said strong leaders are needed to call out inappropriate behaviour, and feels “perhaps that has not happened enough”.

Dame Carolyn reflected on how the industry is handling abuses of power within its ranks at the Royal Television Society (RTS) Cambridge conference on Thursday.

Speaking at the RTS conference, Dame Carolyn said: “It’s a really serious issue. I think there are two things, some are historic and some are current, and then there will be more emerging.

“It won’t be just our industry, it will be much wider than that society. But I think that the one thing to know for sure is that every single broadcaster will take it very seriously. No-one wants this to happen. It’s appalling some of the things that have emerged.”

An independent inquiry is currently being undertaken into ITV’s This Morning programme to review the facts after former host Phillip Schofield exited the show earlier this year after admitting to having a relationship with a younger male former colleague.

His departure also sparked further allegations the programme was fostering a bullying culture that had been described as toxic.

ITV bosses have previously said both Schofield and his younger lover “repeatedly denied” allegations of a relationship until the former This Morning presenter departed from ITV and formally apologised.

Earlier this year, Dame Carolyn told MPs that “we were repeatedly told nothing was happening” and both men denied it “both formally and informally”.

Addressing the companies duty of care policies at the RTS conference, the ITV boss said she feels they have “improved significantly” and noted that the broadcaster has invested “a huge amount of time, resource, and thinking into how we continue to evolve duty of care”.

Asked if she feels the message is getting through to the top talent and executives, Dame Carolyn added: “I think the only way that happens is someone speaking up, but also how the talent is managed, and that’s another very big area that we spend an awful lot of time on, which is that you have to have strong leaders, managers who will say ‘that’s not appropriate’ or ‘we’ve had complaints come out and this is what we’re going to do about it’.

“I think, perhaps, that has not happened enough because that’s not come out enough.”

On the first day of the conference on Monday, Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon and BBC director general Tim Davie addressed the allegations against comedian Russell Brand, which he strongly denies.

Ms Mahon said the Brand allegations show that “terrible behaviour” towards women has been “historically tolerated” in the industry.

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