‘Unusual and odd’ that ITV did not know about Schofield – TV company boss

Phillip Schofield stepped down from co-presenting This Morning earlier this year (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)
Phillip Schofield stepped down from co-presenting This Morning earlier this year (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)

It is “unusual and odd” that ITV did not know about allegations surrounding Phillip Schofield, a TV boss has said.

During the opening debate at the Edinburgh TV Festival – titled Who Holds The Power In TV? – on Wednesday, the panel reflected on how a number of issues with high-profile presenters have arisen lately.

Schofield exited ITV’s This Morning programme and the broadcaster itself in May after admitting to having a relationship with a younger male former colleague.

Jon Thoday, co-founding managing director of Avalon Entertainment, known for shows such as Taskmaster, Catastrophe and Starstruck, told the event: “If you run a business, and there’s something or somebody’s doing something wrong, it’s unusual not to know about it and I think that for me, it was odd, some of the ITV stuff.

“I’m surprised they didn’t (know about Schofield). Maybe it’s such a big business that they didn’t but I think in the end it’s management’s job to know what is going on.”

ITV bosses have 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.

ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall told MPs that “we were repeatedly told nothing was happening” and both men denied it “both formally and informally”.

Later it emerged veteran BBC presenter Huw Edwards had been accused of paying a young person for sexually explicit photos.

The corporation came under fire for its handling of initial complaints against the newsreader and has launched a review into how it handles non-editorial complaints.

LBC host Sangita Myska has said the abuse of power within the media industry is “not really about the talent” but is an “absolute abject failure of management in any given situation”.

Former BBC presenter Myska said she has worked with “absolutely dreadful” presenters, editors and producers during her career and feels the issue lies with how power can corrupt individuals.

She added: “This is not really about the talent per se, this is about the absolute abject failure of management in any given situation.

“What we know, it’s a truism throughout time, power corrupts – it just will. The way you check that is having a decent editorial structure, for example, where managers feel empowered to investigate things and take action.

“If you don’t have a series of checks and balances that are robust, then you will see scandal after scandal.”

She hailed the MeToo movement, which began in America when women spoke out about the abuse they had faced in the media industry, as a “brilliant, wonderful, exciting game changer”.

“We’ve now got a younger generation who feel empowered, and much more so than my generation, to speak up,” she added.

“This is really important, there are women who are now in senior positions. My door is genuinely open. People come to me all the time, they ask me for advice, I’ve offered to take issues up with people really quite senior in the industry.”

Myska said she feels this has helped “people who are vulnerable are increasingly feeling less vulnerable”.

Curve Media chief executive Camilla Lewis said she feels the landscape has “improved” but still described is as a “terrifying industry”, adding: “It is run in a very male way and there is a lot of abuse of power going on daily.”

She said what her organisation tries to do is put out a survey every quarter so they can know if there is abuse going on.

Elsewhere in the festival, bosses from ITV, Channel 5, Netflix and Disney+ will share their thoughts on their outlets’ current standing, while veteran journalist Louis Theroux will close the day as he delivers the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture.