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April 11, 2024updated 12 Apr 2024 11:08am

UK news media rich list 2024: 60 highest-earning execs revealed

Many UK media executives saw their paychecks increase despite a challenging economy.

By Aisha Majid

As UK media pay is again under the spotlight with STV the latest outlet to strike over salaries and National World journalists considering their new pay offer, Press Gazette has updated its ranking of the highest paid jobs in UK media.

Topping the list this time around are two of RELX’s top executives who both netted impressive paychecks in 2023. Chief executive Erik Engstrom made a total of £13.6m in the year, while chief financial officer Nick Luff made £7.1m once his fixed pay, bonuses and payouts are totalled.

The British information powerhouse, which has a well-known stable of legal and scientific brands, has seen strong success in recent years seeing its share price drive more than 100% higher over five years.

Three other information and analytics companies also made the top ten, reflecting the relatively strong performance of the sector. Fourth best-paid on our list was research and polling company Yougov’s former chief executive (now chairman) Stephan Shakespeare who made £4.7m, followed by Informa chief executive Stephen Carter (£3.8m) and Euromoney’s former CEO Andrew Rashbass (£3.5m in 2021/22, the latest figures available. He left the business in November that year).

DMGT, whose chairman and chief executive Lord Rothermere topped the ranking the last time we did this analysis in 2022 with total earnings of £10.9m in 2021, dropped to third after its highest-paid director made £6.5m in 2023. Since Rothermere took the company private in 2022, DMGT no longer has to disclose details of its directors’ remuneration beyond the total figure that was earned by the highest-paid director, who can remain unnamed.

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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:

  • RELX paid the most to its executives, with the company's two highest-paid executives, CEO Erik Engstrom and chief financial officer Nick Luff netting over £20m between them.
  • Of the 60 names on our list, 29 executives, representing 19 companies, grossed at least £1m in remuneration in their last reported annual pay package.
  • Three Yougov executives accounted for the three biggest year-on-year increases in remuneration due to large share payouts in 2023.
  • Executives at B2B publishing companies took home the the largest average paychecks (£2.5m) driven by large remuneration packages for top leaders at a handful of companies such as RELX, Informa and Haymarket.
  • When it came to highest average median salary, B2B media again topped the list (£1.63m) followed by consumer information companies (median executive pay of £1.28m) and magazines (£921,000).
  • Regional media executives were paid the least on average - the median compensation at the four regional publishers on our list was £459,000.
  • Less than one in three (29%) of the named executives in our top 60 list are female - down from 36% in 2022.
  • The median pay for named female executives on the list was £811,000 compared to £1m for men. Average paychecks revealed an even bigger disparity of £1.9m for men compared to £1.1m for their female counterparts, driven by the high pay of a handful of very well compensated male executives.
  • ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall was the only woman among the ten best paid media executives on the list.
  • 30 executives on the list received pay increases of at least 4%, while six at least doubled or almost doubled their pay.
  • Note: For 13 entries on our list we only know the salary for the highest-paid executive at the company according to latest limited company accounts but do not know the name of the executive.

Highest paid UK media jobs: research methodology

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.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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