TVNZ rejected idea of collaborating with Newshub before closure announcement

  • 01/03/2024

A proposal was put on the table to merge the newsgathering operations of New Zealand's two biggest television news services - 1 News and the likely soon-to-be-extinct Newshub. 

But state-owned media giant TVNZ, which runs 1 News, blocked the idea of joining forces, it's been revealed.

Warner Bros Discovery, which owns Newshub, on Friday released details about its proposal to TVNZ - two days after WBD announced a proposal to close Newshub's newsroom. 

WBD's Glen Kyne said learning of TVNZ's financial results on Friday, which showed the company had posted a half-year loss of $16.7 million, made its decision to not have a second discussion about the proposal "truly baffling". 

"I outlined to everyone in the room what I saw as the problems that the whole sector is facing. We didn't tell them anything about our proposed consultation process, but what we did do was outline the imminent issues facing all news media across the country," Kyne said of the meeting, which included himself, TVNZ's chair and chief executive as well as the boss of RNZ. 

"There was agreement from everyone in the room about those problems and it appeared we were aligned on the industry headwinds and challenging financial circumstances. 

"What I proposed as a way to help the news media in New Zealand was something similar to what NZPA was; a shared news gathering service formed out of the TVNZ and Newshub newsrooms, supported by RNZ, that would then create and license content back under agreed independent editorial guidelines."   

Two days later, however, TVNZ chair Alistair Carruthers communicated it "would be passing on it without any further discussion", Kyne said.

"Clearly I was disappointed. Seeing today's news of TVNZ's large financial loss, that disappointment has only grown as I genuinely believe solutions to the outlook for the sector should be solved in collaboration with other media companies. 

"There were no details to what I had proposed. These would have been discussed at the second and following meetings which we never even got to." 

TVNZ said in a statement their CEO and Chair met with the other media leaders. 

"We had an initial discussion with Warner Bros. Discovery and RNZ (at Warner Bros. Discovery’s request) just over a week ago on how we might work together in news.

"This discussion was preliminary, but would have seen TVNZ take on significant cost and risk of a new service, so we informed Warner Bros. Discovery that we were not in a position to advance any talks, TVNZ said in a statement. 

"We were not told of Warner Bros. Discovery’s plans to disestablish Newshub. We understand these plans have been in place for some time from media reports this week.

"Our results today show we need focus on ensuring the sustainability of our own organisation. To position Warner Bros. Discovery’s decisions as the responsibly of TVNZ is incorrect."

WBD's proposed Newshub closure would bring an end to 35 years of broadcasting, leaving TVNZ as the main producer of television news. 

A final decision on Newshub's closure is expected next month, with the shutdown proposed for June.