The best paid executives at Reach were chief financial officer Darren Fisher who received total remuneration of £571,000 in 2023 while chief executive Jim Mullen made £564,000. The company’s executives agreed to forgo salary increases in 2023, while Mullen and Fisher have agreed to forgo their bonuses. Fisher received more than Mullen as a result of the business buying out his ITV cash bonus which he forfeited by joining Reach.

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The best paid broadcast executive was an unnamed executive at Global who made £3.1m in 2023, followed by ITV’s Carolyn McCall who was paid more than £2.9m – although this was 22% down on 2022.

Private limited companies often just list the salary of their “highest-paid director”. In those cases we have included the pay and company names but not the job title or name of the individual.

Key revelations of the research include:

The Press Gazette Media Rich List comprises the top 60 best-paid executives at UK news media and magazine publishers, broadcasters and information and data companies with a significant publishing arm. The list is based on availability of public data found in the accounts of the UK’s biggest publishing companies.

For each, we have used the most up-to-date pay information available. Some companies have only published information covering 2022, while others have published full accounts for the financial year up to some point in 2023.

Where an executive has moved on from a company or has changed position, the pay and title reported are for the position that the executive held as per the latest pay report.

While publicly-traded companies have to disclose executive pay in their annual financial reports including director names and the various components of their pay, UK private companies only need to disclose the amount received by the highest-paid director in their Companies House filings. They do not have to identify that executive or report the pay packages of other individual executives – meaning that some high-earning executives at private companies that may have otherwise made this list could not be included.

The BBC discloses the pay of any senior managers earning more than £150,000, and any who qualified for the top 60 were included in the list.

Some executives that appeared in our previous list may not appear on this one, for example where a company has been taken private. Highly-paid executives from other companies (such as News Corp and Sky News) also do not feature on the list for a variety of reasons, including that they were registered abroad or had not disclosed full director pay in their Companies House accounts. For example, News UK’s Rebekah Brooks, who was one of the best-paid executives in our last ranking, no longer appears on this list as the company’s latest filing only reflects the fraction of Brooks’ pay deemed to apply to services to News UK.

The list only covers the top executives at companies and does not include the pay of talent. Editors are only included in cases where they served on the executive board of outlets.

If you believe any companies have been left out, please let us know by emailing aisha.majid@ns-mediagroup.com.

Who had the biggest pay increases or decreases?

Despite a challenging economic context in the last few years, many outlets saw executive pay either increase or maintained in 2022 and 2023.

Yougov’s then chief executive (now non-executive chair) Stephan Shakespeare, former chief operating officer Sundip Chahal and chief financial officer Alex McIntosh all took home at least four times as much in 2023 as in 2022 due to large share payouts.

Executives at B2B media and intelligence companies RELX, Informa and Euromoney also saw large pay increases.

Because several of the companies on the list are publicly traded, a large amount of executive remuneration comes from bonuses paid in the form of shares. At RELX for example, chief executive Engstrom’s pay comprised £1.6m in base salary and benefits such as pension payments, and over £12m in shares, share payments and cash bonuses.

Nick Luff, RELX’s chief financial officer, meanwhile received £916,000 in salary and benefits and a further £6.1m in bonuses and payouts.

Yougov ex-chief executive Shakespeare’s base pay meanwhile was £337,000, but taken with share payouts and other benefits he netted £4.7m during the 2023 financial year.

A number of companies have had a tough couple of years after the pandemic, including Reach which has been hit by falling referral traffic from Facebook and Google and lower yields from advertising. As a result, executives in 2023 were not paid bonuses for a second year and agreed to freeze their salaries. It is a far cry from earlier years when Reach chief executive Jim Mullen and then-chief financial officer Simon Fuller both saw their overall pay packages increase by over 700% between 2020 and 2021.

Scottish broadcaster STV, whose staff recently carried out a one-day strike over pay with a further walkout planned, saw executives receive an effective pay cut due to lower bonuses in 2022. The total remuneration for chief executive Pitts, who is leaving to join Global early next year, was 22% lower in 2023 than 2022.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our “Letters Page” blog

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