Yesterday afternoon, RNZ head of Radio John Howson informed his department that the state broadcaster has proposed disestablishing seven roles, including the one he holds.
StopPress understands that the head of radio role is the most senior under review, and that six backroom, administrative and programming positions were also included as part of the announcement.
The staff affected by the announcement now have until the end of November to respond to the proposal.
StopPress also understands that the number of roles potentially disestablished could inflate to as many as 13 by July next year, as RNZ continues reducing operation costs.
RNZ’s head of communications John Barr confirmed that an announcement regarding the disestablishment of several roles had been made, but he would not go into any further details about which roles are affected.
Asked whether any RNZ shows are set to be discontinued in 2016, Barr said only Sunday afternoon’s Sounds Historical hosted by retiring radio veteran Jim Sulivan is set to be discontinued.
“This show was totally connected to Jim, so it will be replaced by a different one that covers similar topics in a different way,” Barr says.
While some in the industry have questioned whether the decision to employ former current affairs hosts John Campbell and Mihingarangi Forbes are related to the latest round of potential job cuts, Barr says this isn’t the case.
He says that this is part of an ongoing strategic moves introduced by RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson over the last 18 months in a bid to modernise the organisation and bring it in line with the digital age.
This modernisation process has also seen RNZ invest heavily in new studio facilities that allow for live-streaming and radio-broadcasting simultaneously.
“We’re going into the red this year to invest in technology,” Barr says.
Barr also points out that once the new studios have been built, the new resources will be at the disposal of any of the broadcasters and journalists working at RNZ.
“The new studio isn’t just being built for John Campbell and Checkpoint,” he says.
RNZ’s investment in modernising its business (and consequential cost-cutting) comes at a time when its state funding has been frozen at around $32 million per annum for the last seven years—making the challenge of modernisation even more difficult, especially given that this finite budget has depreciated over this period.
“There’s been no extra funding to support this transformation,” Thompson previously told StopPress. “An injection of funding would be nice—it would be fantastic in fact—but we’ve got plans, which means we’ve got enough money to do what we need to do.”