Restructuring hits TVNZ, confirms proposed changes for its media operations and news teams

TVNZ has confirmed it is entering into consultation with its staff in relation to proposed changes that will see an overall reduction of roles in its media operations and news teams. 

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick says the changes are designed to build a sustainable future video content business in the face of low-cost, global competitors. These low-cost global competitors were among the reasons TVNZ’s net profit fell to $12.7 million in the 12 months ending June 30, 2016, which was down from $28.1 million a year earlier. 

“What we’re looking to do is redesign the business in a way that makes it sustainable for the future. Everyone’s fairly well aware of the dramatic changes in the media industry, and we think it’s a good time to take stock of where we’re at and to design what the business needs to look like,” he says.

  • Check out an in-depth interview with Kenrick from 2015 here

While the number of news editors and producers will be reduced, reporter bases in the provinces will instead be expanded in an effort to cut costs. Kenrick says that if these changes go ahead, reporter bases in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin will double to also include places such as the Hawkes Bay, Tauranga, Central Otago, Nelson and Northland. 

“The one thing we’re confident we have is the local content we produce and commission and hence why our focus is on that.” 

“At the same time, we’re proposing to remove a number of the duplicated processes, systems and roles in our news bureaus. We’re also looking to simplify our media operations processes, to distribute more news stories faster to our audiences.”

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick

The proposed changes are part of wider business restructuring across TVNZ, with ongoing reviews set to take place over the next three to six months. 

“We aim to reach at least two million New Zealanders every day and that’s kind of a yardstick we hold ourselves accountable to,” says Kenrick.

“What we need to do is find ways to do that in a more cost-effective manner. The reason for that comes down to who our competition is. We’ve got global scale players who’ve launched competing services in the New Zealand marketplace. They have very little staff and don’t pay any taxes, so they’ve got a cost base that we can’t replicate. But at the same time, we can’t retain the cost base that we have right now, so that’s a big part of our focus.”

“Ultimately, we need to be a lower cost business and that’s part of creating a sustainable future business when you’re competing against low-cost, global scale players. So unashamedly, we’re going to have to do more reviews and part of that will mean less people. But there will be areas that we invest more in,” he says.

When asked if those in discontinued roles would be reassigned within the organisation, Kenrick says that would be “the obvious next step”, but added that the structure would have to first be confirmed before any new roles were decided. 

“We’ve proposed some changes to our media ops and news gathering teams and we’re consulting with people to get their feedback on that. So the way I describe it is that what we’ve put forward our current best thinking. We’re keen to understand from those teams which parts make a whole lot of sense, which parts don’t, and what we can improve to make a better outcome.” 

Kenrick did not discuss the specific numbers that would be affected. But discussions on these proposed changes are set to take place with TVNZ staff over the next few of weeks, with the revised structure for the media operations and news teams set to be confirmed by mid-April. 

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