STV suspends dividend as it launches £10m of cuts amid coronavirus outbreak

STV has announced that it has suspended its planned dividend of 14.7p per share and embarked on a cost-cutting mission to ensure that it remains “financially resilient” amid the COVID-19 crisis.

STV suspends dividend as it launches £10m of cuts amid coronavirus outbreak

Simon Pitts, STV chief executive

The broadcaster issued a trading update yesterday which said that it would suspend its final dividend for the calendar year 2019 in a move which would save the firm £5.5 million.

STV said it would revisit the position on future dividends once there was “greater clarity on the impact of COVID-19 on the business.”

The update comes just weeks after STV reported its highest profits for more than a decade, with its operating profit reaching £22.6m.

The company said that it has good ongoing access to funds through its £60 million overdraft and revolving credit facility. It added that its net debt was £37.5m at the end of last year and is expected to be c.£38m at the end of March 2020, comprising cash balances of £10m and £48m of drawn down facility.

STV said that it remains very focused on cash and has already taken steps to reduce costs and cash commitment. It said national programming costs will reduce in line with any reduction in revenues (thanks to our unique variable cost model) and the company has identified a further £2m of other cost savings across the business for 2020, along with c.£2.5m of cash savings from delayed capital expenditure.

Simon Pitts, STV chief executive, said: “Over the last 2 years STV has demonstrated its resilience and ability to grow the business in the face of challenging market conditions. These are now extraordinary times and our immediate focus must be on protecting our brilliant people and fulfilling our public service role to keep our viewers informed and entertained in the most trying of circumstances.

We have implemented contingency plans to keep our programmes on-air, especially our news coverage, have taken decisive steps to reduce costs, manage our cashflow and make funding available to support the local businesses and charities in Scotland who now need it most, and we remain committed to our successful growth strategy for the long term.”

Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.

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