Friday, April 13, 2007
New Zealand’s state-owned broadcaster, TVNZ (Television New Zealand) announced yesterday its proposed redundancy cuts that will see jobs go from various sectors, the most going from their news and current affairs sector.
At least 140 people will be told that they will be set to lose their job in the next six months, at least 50 of those are from the news sector.
Seven general reporting journalists will be leaving, which only leaves six left from the Auckland newsroom. Two sports reporting journalists will also be leaving from the Auckland newsroom, leaving six. Accredited parliament reporters also look to face redundancy cuts, as well as reporters from the Christchurch newsroom. As well as people losing their jobs, the Queenstown, Wanganui and Rotorua newsrooms will be closed, as well as the news reference library, and the current affairs show, Sunday looks set to close its Wellington office. Head of journalism at the University of Canterbury, Jim Tully says that the closing of the Queenstown newsroom is a big mistake. Current affairs show, Close Up will also lose two journalists and a Christchurch producer, but will gain a producer in Auckland. Fair Go, consumer affairs show, will lose three senior producers. Breakfast will lose a weather and sports presenter, and a producer.
The final decision of the exact numbers will be disclosed in the next few weeks, following consultation with the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, which represents, altogether, 5,000 employees.
Some of the job losses include experienced journalists, and Bill Ralston, former head of news and current affairs for TVNZ, said that they will be replaced by cheaper, inexperienced journalists. “If you do that your audience will reduce even further . . . this move makes no commercial sense whatsoever,” he said.
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union has described the job losses as an attack on democracy, and have launched a campaign titled, ‘Our Media’ to bring these issues to light. The National Secretary, Andrew Little has said that an essential function of communities is good quality regional news reporting, which will be reduced because of the job cuts.
Steve Maharey, broadcasting minister, has refused to comment regarding TVNZ.
Mr Ralston has said that this move will destroy TVNZ’s 30-year reputation being “…a good quality public broadcaster who gives you a news and current affairs service that you can believe and trust.”
He also questioned why they were cutting the news sector heavily when there are other sectors that are unnecessary, such as human resources. “Last time I looked at TVNZ it had 25 people in its human resources division – TV3 has none.” One TVNZ staff member has said that the job cuts were run by the human resources decision, and that they are very “anti-journalist”.
TVNZ plan to launch a new continuous news channel next year on New Zealand’s new digital platform, FreeView.
The New Zealand Herald is currently also looking at reducing staff numbers by outsourcing their sub-editors/copy editors.