Newshub set to close

Newshub looks set to close at the end of June, as part of a proposed restructure of its struggling owner Warner Bros. Discovery’s free-to-air business in New Zealand.    

The proposal includes the closure of all Newshub’s multiplatform news operations and output, and new local programming would only be in collaboration with local funding bodies and other partners. 

James Gibbons, President, Asia Pacific, Warner Bros. Discovery says this is not a proposal the business arrived at easily.    

“We are acutely aware of our position in the local media landscape and what this means for our people, and for the country as a whole. 

“There was no single trigger that caused this, rather it was a combination of negative events in New Zealand and globally. The impacts of the economic downturn have been severe, and the bounce back has not materialised as expected.  

“Advertising revenue in New Zealand has disappeared far more quickly than our ability to manage this reduction, and to drive the business to profitability.”

Warner Bros. Discovery says the proposed new model reflects the ambition to transition the operations to a digitally led business. If implemented as proposed, ThreeNow would be at the core of the model, supported by free-to-air linear channels.  

It is proposed that ThreeNow and Three’s offering would feature local programming in conjunction with funding partners, acquisitions across drama, comedy, sport, reality and factual, and key titles from Warner Bros. Discovery’s extensive library. Bravo, Eden, Rush and HGTV would continue in their current form with the same content slate.    

Glen Kyne, Senior Vice President, Head of Networks, Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ, said this is a hard day for everyone who works for the company, and the country.    

“If implemented, the proposal would be a significant change to our New Zealand operations. Warner Bros. Discovery would be committed to retaining a local presence, albeit with a much smaller operating model and lower cost base.

“We know that Newshub has been such an important and central part of TV3 since day one, and is a crucial part of a functioning media sector in New Zealand.   

“We also know that New Zealanders have come to love our local shows, from Dancing with the Stars, to The Block NZ, to Black Coast Vanishings.   

“Free-to-air and news are expensive businesses to run. Put simply, the economic headwinds means the returns are not there. These proposed changes will be hard if they are implemented, but we think they are necessary, which is why we have commenced consultation.” 

The consultation process runs until mid-March, with a final decision expected by early April.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s New Zealand operation reported an after-tax loss of $35 million in 2022, and is just one of several major New Zealand media companies battling falling advertising revenue.

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