25 May 2020

MediaWorks cutting 130 jobs

From Mediawatch, 10:24 am on 25 May 2020

MediaWorks is cutting 130 jobs as it deals with the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company’s chief executive Michael Anderson announced the restructure in an all-staff meeting at 10am.

Michael Anderson, MediaWorks chief executive.

Michael Anderson, MediaWorks chief executive. Photo: supplied

He said the job losses would be mainly concentrated in sales, radio, and marketing. MediaWorks TV arm, which it put up for sale in October last year, was mostly spared. 

This is the second bit of bad news for MediaWorks staff during the Covid-19 crisis.

Anderson asked radio, digital, and TV staff to take a voluntary 15% pay cut for six months on April 1, saying the company had lost revenue during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He announced today the voluntary pay cut would be extended to all staff, and would run until September.

MediaWorks owns roughly half the country’s radio stations and the Newshub brand. 

Today’s cuts and redundancies are the lastest in a long line of moves made by the company to stay in business in a difficult market. 

Mediaworks predecessor Canwest was bought by US-based private equity fund Ironbridge for $741m in 2007 in a deal that saddled the broadcaster with significant debts. 

A management group led by former NZX CEO Mark Weldon and chair Rod McGeogh took over after Mediaworks went into receivership in 2013. 

Weldon was charged with restoring the company's finances so the banks which formerly owned it could get some money back.Swapping debt for equity left the company with a more manageable million debt burden. 

News and current affairs programmes deemed to be underperforming were axed and their staff let go. 

Since April 2105, Mediaworks has been owned by global investment company Oaktree Capital, often referred to as a vulture fund (an outfit investing in financially weakened or ‘distressed’ assets). 

In November 2015 Oaktree Capital injected fresh funds in Mediaworks spend on an integrated multi-media news centre and a new brand for news ‘Newshub’. 

In early 2016 it appointed two new directors to Mediaworks, including current chair Jack Matthews.  It has also established a new constitution for Mediaworks, which set a limit of two million dollars on discretionary spending by the management.

Current CEO Michael Anderson was appointed in 2017. 

In 2018, Mediaworks merged with Australian billboard advertising company QMS Media Limited which now owns 40 per cent of MediaWorks and has two seats on the five-member board.  It is understood many of today's job cuts are former QMS staff.