ITV hit with £62m ‘financial support direction’ from The Pensions Regulator

The Pensions Regulator has ordered broadcasting giant ITV to provide support for the Box Clever pension scheme, which has a £62m deficit.

Box Clever was a joint venture set up in 2000 as part of a merger of the Granada and Thorn TV businesses.

In 2003, Box Clever went into administration. It was subsequently sold in 2005 but the proceeds were not sufficient to meet the claims of the unsecured creditors, including the trustee of the pension scheme.

On December 21 last year The Pensions Regulator issued a Financial Support Direction requiring ITV to put in place financial support for the Box Clever scheme. ITV is now appealing the decision.

Box Clever Trustees chairman Alan Herbert says: It was clear as soon as the administrative receivers were appointed in 2003 that the scheme would be in trouble. The trustee has been seeking ever since to have the founders, who received the best part of £1 billion from Box Clever, make good the deficit for their former employees.

ITV did make a series of small and ever diminishing offers but eventually refused any compensation whatever, even though it had made a significant provision in its accounts for this.

“We very much hope that,  rather than spending more time and money on appealing, the ITV board of directors will on reflection now accept the ruling and start constructive discussions as to how the Box Clever pensioners can be protected.”

An ITV spokesman says: “ITV has never participated in the Box Clever scheme and has had no control over the growth of its deficit and we have not been ordered to pay £62m or indeed any amount by The Pensions Regulator.

“ITV is appealing the ruling of the panel and will pursue this vigorously.  No Financial Support Direction may be issued against ITV while an appeal is pending.”