Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Nesbitt quits UTV over contracts row

Dramatic move by key co-presenter

UTV news anchorman Mike Nesbitt has dramatically parted company with the station after almost 15 years as one of its main presenters, it can be revealed today.

UTV news anchorman Mike Nesbitt has dramatically parted company with the station after almost 15 years as one of its main presenters, it can be revealed today.

The Belfast Telegraph has learned that Mr Nesbitt, who co-hosts the evening show UTV Live with his wife Lynda Bryans, told station bosses last week that he was not renewing his contract.

It is understood the popular Cambridge-educated father-of-two was not happy with the conditions of the new contract.

According to insiders within UTV, Mr Nesbitt had in the past felt sidelined within the company after supporting former employee Michael Beattie in his High Court action against UTV.

Linda Bryans will stay on as one of the main presenters, along with Paul Clark and Kate Smith.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph today, Mr Nesbitt confirmed he was quitting the station.

He said: "I have decided to leave because I just feel very strongly that the time has come to move on.

"I believe it is time for a new challenge and I have several projects in the pipeline.

"I will be sorry to leave behind a very fine bunch of journalists, and above all, will miss working with my wife Lynda, who is a key factor in UTV's success story."

He added: "Lynda is supportive of my decision to go."

Mr Nesbitt would not comment further on his decision to leave.

However Michael Beattie, who sued UTV for negligence and breach of contract two years ago, said he believed the company had not made the most of Mr Nesbitt's talents.

"Personally and professionally Mike Nesbitt is one of the most loyal people I know and is a man of integrity," he said.

"He is one of the best journalists I know and has always been very loyal to the company.

"But it is a great disappointment to me that over the past few years the company has chosen not to make the most of his talents."

Mike Nesbitt began his journalistic career with the BBC in their sports department, before moving on to Good Morning Ulster, where he worked for four years.

He then worked for two years with PR company Anderson Kenny, before joining UTV in 1992.

A new series of Mike and Lynda's programme Home Sweet Home will begin later this month.

A spokeswoman for UTV said: "We are really disappointed that Mike has chosen not to accept his new contract and continue to value his contribution to UTV."

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