Yesterday’s announcement from MediaWorks came with confirmation of two executive job cuts as chief executive of television Paul Maher and chief executive of interactive Siobhan McKenna were listed as casualties of the reshuffle.
MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon told StopPress that these would be the extent of the job cuts for now.
“Every staff member in the areas noted will be retained,” he says.
As part of the restructure, Weldon has merged the interactive unit with the wider business, meaning that the staff members previously employed in this unit would now be moving into different departments.
“Interactive staff will move to the parts of the business where they naturally add value," he says. "The sales people will join the wider sales team under Liz [Fraser], those working on content will move consistent with the brands they work on, and technology and development people will join Tom Cotter’s team.”
Arguably the most surprising announcement made by MediaWorks was the departure of Maher, and Weldon addressed this by saying: “I want to reiterate that Paul has built a strong team across TV news, programming and sales who have, under his leadership executed a significant turnaround in profitability for the TV business at MediaWorks, including during some particularly challenging times. He has made a significant contribution to the company."
Weldon says these changes to the business come as part of an evolution of the company, which has been simmering under the surface for some time and has already been put into action through earlier moves such as the merging of the direct sales teams.
“Organisational structure follows strategy. We have a very clear intent around the business and these organisation changes are consistent with that. Moreover this direction of travel has been well signalled by the establishment of three new roles; group head of revenue, group head of entertainment content, and chief information and product officer. The changes announced yesterday are consistent with this direction of travel and add value to the business.”
One of the clearest examples of this strategy coming to life is in the news team, which has been consolidated into a single unit.
MediaWorks’ TV, radio and digital news operations will be combined into a unified news team under the leadership of Mark Jennings, who has been promoted to a new role, group head of news.
Until now, MediaWorks’ digital news offering has lagged behind Stuff and the NZ Herald, and this move has been made as a clear effort to relay the network’s television audience into the online environment.
“The feedback has been very positive from both radio and television," says Jennings. "There is genuine excitement and enthusiasm. Everyone understands the media landscape is changing rapidly and we need to be at the forefront. Our TV and radio brands have always had a reputation for being progressive and innovative and the team want to make sure that’s the case for the next 25 years.”
These changes mark a shift for MediaWorks because it is moving from a platform orientation to one that is more focused on the brands irrespective of where they are.
This approach is already proving successful on MediaWorks’ entertainment brands The Edge, Jono and Ben at Ten, The Block NZ and the X Factor NZ, which each have a significant range of shorter-form on-demand content available online in addition to the standard linear programming.
Most shows now exist across platforms and this means that the teams working at MediaWorks need to collaborate seamlessly—which in turn has necessitated these changes.
The show that perhaps stands as the clearest example of this new strategy would undoubtedly be the cross-platform revamp of the Paul Henry Show, which is set to go to air next year.
Early speculation suggests that the show will be called the Paul Henry Experience, which seems fittingly grandiose for him. And while it's thought that MediaWorks is still finalising the details, StopPress is crossing fingers that this title gets the nod.
On the topic of names, it's thought that NZME chief executive Jane Hastings is sometimes referred to as 'Hurricane Jane' on account of the slew of changes she has introduced since taking on the leadership role. Weldon currently doesn't have a requisite media nickname, but given his fondness for melding things together, we're quite partial to 'Welding Weldon' or Mark 'The Welder' Weldon. So, dear readers, what do you think his media name should be?