Warner Bros boss regrets jobs still being lost despite Stuff deal: 'It does come with a downside'

8:01 pm on 16 April 2024

Warner Brothers Discovery chief executive Glen Kyne at the announcement in Auckland. Photo: RNZ/Nick Monro

Journalists are welcoming a deal that that will see TV3's 6pm news stay on New Zealanders' televisions.

News publisher Stuff has agreed to take over the bulletin, which will remain on TV3 from 6 July in a deal intended to help Three retain some viewers.

Representatives from Warner Brothers Discovery (owners of TV3) and Stuff made the announcement at Stuff's Auckland office on Tuesday.

"We're really thrilled, and I think really looking forward to what we can create for Warner Brothers," Stuff Group owner Sinead Boucher said.

"What really attracted us to it was this chance of using really modern technologies and approaches to do something that was innovative, not just do the exact same thing."

Stuff will run one-hour bulletins every weekday and 30-minute bulletins at the weekends, retaining some, but not all, Newshub staff.

"We have a really large journalistic workforce all around the country, who are already multi-media journalists, who are already filing live every day, and it gives us a strong foundation to build on top of," Boucher said.

Stuff Group owner Sinead Boucher says she's thrilled with the deal. Photo: RNZ/Nick Monro

Chief executive Glen Kyne, from TV3 owner Warner Brothers Discovery, said the news had left staff with mixed feelings.

"It was a difficult announcement today, because we're not saving all the jobs in the newsroom," he said.

"We're announcing something that we think is fundamentally positive for the country, and positive for both businesses, but it does come with a downside that we can't save all the Newshub jobs."

Overall, Kyne said the deal was a good sign for the sector.

"This is the future of media, seeing this sort of innovation and partnership come together on how we work together," he said.

Newshub journalist Juliet Speedy described it as a half-rescue deal but said it was better than the alternative.

"We know that they're going to carry on the news bulletins the very day after Warner Brothers Discovery shuts it down," she said.

"We know that we are all still being made redundant on that date, and that Stuff will be bringing over some staff, no one has any idea or any confirmation as to who that is."

The Newshub website will also transfer to Stuff, though it is unclear what it will be used for.

Newshub's substantial archives will also be preserved, it is just a question of how.

Journalist and presenter Amanda Gillies said the announcement was a welcome bit of good news.

"If a part of the company can be saved, if we can still tell fantastic stories, if we can still hold people to account, I think it's a beautiful thing," she said.

"I'm happy for those who will, hopefully, go across to Stuff and keep telling good stories."

Not much of a victory for Newshub staff - commentator

Duncan Greive

Duncan Greive Photo: supplied

But media commentator and founder of The Spinoff, Duncan Greive, told Midday Report it might not be the liferaft some Newshub staff hope it to be.

"I struggle to think of it as much of a victory for Newshub staff unfortunately," he said.

"It will be a small handful of jobs created by this but the whole theory of it for anyone who's going to take it over will be to use your existing newsgathering capacity and just put it in a different place."

While the number of Newshub staff needed to ensure it worked from a production, technical and quality perspective remained uncertain, Greive was pessimistic.

"You'd expect it to be some but it can't really be many if it's to deliver the kind of step change Warner Brothers will require to make it work financially."

He said he had spoken to some Stuff journalists who were puzzled that an organisation that had been laying off journalists and other workers in the last few months had decided to take on a major new commitment.

Greive said Stuff would probably be keen to lock in a deal with Sky TV to produce a bulletin for it (as Newshub does at present) and that would generate such extra income.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon was more enthusiastic.

"It's been an incredibly tough time, as you well know, in the media industry in New Zealand in recent months and to see a solution, a commercial decision, and a commercial solution emerge like that, that's fantastic."

Stuff will run the 6pm news programme on Three from 6 July, the day after Newshub signs off for the final time.

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