Sunday, Fair Go proposed to be discontinued under TVNZ restructure

TVNZ is proposing to discontinue long-running shows including Sunday and Fair Go.

The state-owned broadcaster revealed on Thursday it was proposing to lose 68 jobs across its 700-strong workforce, with a new structure in place by "early April".

Consumer rights programme Fair Go and current affairs show Sunday are facing being discontinued.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, the Fair Go team said it was "devastated to learn today of the plan to axe the show.

"For 47 years we've been battling for New Zealanders and we are not ready for that to end," the statement said.

"Our next challenge is working out how to keep going for you."

Sunday executive producer Jane Skinner said they were told in a 9am meeting their last broadcast date would be in early May.

"We are devastated at this proposal," she said in a statement.

"Against a backdrop of sector wide cuts, journalism is in crisis.

"This is not just about job losses, which are difficult, but about what we believe is the sustained degradation of the Fourth Estate in NZ.  A healthy democracy relies on the ability of experienced journalists to decipher, in depth, the state of our country, our identity and to hold power to account."

One News' Midday and Tonight bulletins are also facing the axe.

"The proposals we have presented in no way relate to the immense contribution of the teams that work on these shows and the significant journalistic value they've provided over many years. Unfortunately, we need to reduce our costs to ensure the business remains sustainable," TVNZ chief executive Jodi O'Donnell said. "These aren't decisions we make lightly and significant analysis has gone into the proposals.

"We remain committed to delivering the most trusted and watched news and current affairs for New Zealand audiences and what that looks like will change as we shift to a digital-first model. Our priority is our people and supporting them through this process."

An all-hands staff meeting within the department was called for Friday at 1pm but it is believed meetings were taking place across the morning prior to the scheduled meeting.

In total, 9 percent of the company's workforce would be lost if the proposal were to be put in place.

In a leaked internal email, TVNZ's head of news Phil O'Sullivan said the proposed cuts were "devastating", the NZ Herald reported.

"We are giving 24 hours notice prior to meetings with those whose roles may potentially be impacted.

"This is happening across all departments at TVNZ. This is devastating for those people invited to meetings and very tough for everyone else."

On Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon weighed in on the news of the TVNZ proposals, saying it was "a tough day for people" at the state broadcaster.

"What I want to say on TVNZ is it's incredibly unsettling and I do genuinely feel for the staff, and all media companies here and around the world are wrestling with a changing media environment."

TVNZ said it would consult with staff on Friday, giving them 24 hours notice so those impacted by the planned changes would have time to get a support person if needed.

The job cuts come after TVNZ flagged further cost-cutting as it posted a first-half-year loss linked to reduced revenue and asset write-offs. Its interim financial results show its total revenue has fallen 13.5 percent from last year to $155.9 million.

Its net loss for the six months ended December was $16.8 million. That compared with a profit of $4.8 million the year before.

In a statement, TVNZ chief executive Jodi O'Donnell said there were "no easy answers" as tough economic conditions continued to hit the media industry.

"TVNZ's executive team has focused on reducing operating costs over the last 12 months. Unfortunately, we're now at the point where we need to reduce the size of our team to bring our costs more in line with our revenue.

"Changes like the ones we're proposing are incredibly hard, but we need to ensure we're in a stronger position to transform the business to meet the needs of our viewers in a digital world.

"There are no easy answers, and media organisations locally and globally are grappling with the same issues."

But the E tū union, which represents media in New Zealand, said it was concerned about how the company was handling the announcements - with one member claiming the "uncertainty" was the hardest thing given workers did not yet know their fate.

A union-labelled car could be seen parked outside TVNZ's Auckland building on Friday afternoon.

Sunday, Fair Go proposed to be discontinued under TVNZ restructure
Photo credit: Newshub.

Newshub asked TVNZ how much the proposed cuts would save the company but the state broadcaster refused to answer, citing the information as "being commercially sensitive".

The news of proposed job cuts at the state broadcaster came just over a week after Warner Bros Discovery presented a proposal to cut around 300 jobs across its New Zealand operation, signalling the Newshub newsroom would be shut down