23 Mar 2017

TVNZ confirms job losses in news reshuffle

From Mediawatch, 5:12 pm on 23 March 2017

An overall reduction in news jobs at TVNZ is likely, staff have been told, as the broadcaster reveals a new plan to cut some roles and introduce others.​

Photo: supplied

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said the changes to its media operations and news teams were designed to make it "sustainable".

“The proposed changes have the potential to substantially change the way we gather our news content,” he said.

Job cuts were first flagged in TVNZ's annual review last December. 

"I am not prepared to make any commitment about increasing the number of people or the amount of money that we invest in people. Over time I think we’re going to have to be a leaner and more efficient organisation," Mr Kenrick told the Commerce Committee in Parliament.

Mr Kenrick told Mediawatch it was too early to say how many news jobs would go overall but efficient use of technology would mean "doing more with less". 

TVNZ's statement says the proposed changes will allow TVNZ to "double our reporter bases from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin to also include places like the Hawke's Bay, Tauranga, Central Otago, Nelson and Northland".

"We want to allocate more resources to people covering local stories on the ground." he told Mediawatch. "We're looking at how many duplicated editorial and producer roles we have in multiple locations."

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick.

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick Photo: RNZ

Mr Kenrick said proposals were not yet at the level of detail to determine whether full-time reporters would be deployed in regional locations and offices outside main centres. 

Ten years ago, TVNZ spent around $50 million a year on news. Mr Kenrick said it was hard to isolate the costs at TVNZ today, but spending on news and current affairs was "in the mid 30s [million dollars]".

In February, TVNZ announced an interim profit of $12.9m but advertising revenue fell 5 percent.

TVNZ is a state-owned broadcaster answerable to its shareholding ministers, and Mr Kenrick said they had been told of the changes.  

"We adopt a no-surprises approach, we keep them informed of what we're doing. This situation is no different," he said.  

However, he also said TVNZ was not directed to cut costs to improve financial performance.

The broadcaster, which plans to confirm the proposed news changes by mid-April, also said there would be more changes in other departments in the next six months.

Mr Kenrick told Mediawatch there were no immediate plans to change existing TV news bulletins such as TVNZ 1 News, and the online 1 News Now platform would continue to expand.