Newshub closure confirmed: Warner Bros. Discovery announces July 5 as final day

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has confirmed plans to close its Newshub news operation, as part of a wider restructuring of its New Zealand free-to-air television business which will see nearly 300 roles disappear.

Newshub’s last day will be July 5.

Staff were given the news at a meeting in Auckland this morning, with employees from the company’s Wellington and Christchurch newsrooms joining via video link.

The scene inside the meeting that confirmed the Newshub closure.
The scene inside the meeting that confirmed the Newshub closure. Photo credit: Newshub

Today’s decision means the end of nearly 35 years of news broadcasts on Three, and the closure of Newshub's online operation.

Around 200 journalists, producers, editors, camera operators and associated staff will lose their jobs, in a move which would leave state-owned TVNZ with a near-monopoly on TV news production.

Dozens of other WBD NZ staff will also be made redundant, as the company grapples with the collapse of advertising revenue on free-to-air television.

Reaction has been swift from within Newshub, with Patrick Gower urging "the magic of Newshub" be saved.

“Newshub is full of amazing people and is capable of doing amazing things for New Zealand. New Zealand needs Newshub - it is a taonga," he said.

“We need a lifeline. We know there are talks going on with outside companies, we need the deal to be done and some of the magic of Newshub can be saved."

AM presenter Lloyd Burr simply said he was "gutted."

"The AM programme is a lean, mean, morning telly machine and I feel like I’m finally hitting my stride. We are all gutted."

Newshub's news operation, including AM, Newshub Live at 6pm, Newshub Late and are proposed for closure
Newshub's news operation, including AM, Newshub Live at 6pm, Newshub Late and are proposed for closure Photo credit: Newshub

The head of WBD’s Asia-Pacific region, James Gibbons said that while the restructure process had not been easy, it was necessary for the viability and success of the company’s ongoing presence in New Zealand.

“When we announced the proposed restructure six weeks ago, we explained that there was nothing anyone in our New Zealand networks business could have done better – it was a combination of very strong economic headwinds both in New Zealand and the global market. As we said at the time, the downturn has been severe, and the bounce-back has not materialised as expected.”  

“Just recently, it was revealed that in 2023 alone, $74 million disappeared from broadcast TV advertising in New Zealand. Apart from 2009, the year following the Global Financial Crisis, this was the single largest year-on-year drop in thirty years – a 14.3 per cent drop. 

Glen Kyne, Senior Vice President, Head of Networks, Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ, said the confirmation of the new structure was a difficult day for staff at WBD and the country.   

“With the massive reduction in broadcast TV advertising revenue, our free-to-air and news operations were simply too expensive to run as they were. We are deeply aware of the effect this is likely to have on the plurality of media voices in New Zealand. Having just one TV news operation in New Zealand – that is state-owned – will be an ongoing issue until it is solved. But as we noted on the day, it is simply impossible to continue operating in our current form.”

Reports emerged this week that WBD NZ may consider outsourcing production of a 6pm news bulletin for Three and ThreeNow.

Michael Morrah says it was devastating to hear that none of that that feedback submitted by the sub-committee carried weight.
Michael Morrah says it was devastating to hear that none of the feedback submitted by the sub-committee carried weight. Photo credit: Newshub

“As we said from the beginning, our door has been open to listening to all internal and external feedback and ideas, and we will continue to do so. However, as of now, no deal regarding news output has been made,” Kyne said.

“Warner Bros. Discovery is committed to maintaining a strong footprint in New Zealand presence, albeit with a different operating model and lower cost base.”

The company is promising what it calls “a mix of local programming in conjunction with funding partners, acquisitions across drama, comedy, sport, reality, and factual, and key titles from WBD’s extensive library. The Bravo, Eden, Rush and HGTV channels will remain as they are.”

Kyne also addressed concerns about the fate of Newshub’s news library, which contains footage of news events dating back to the launch of TV3 in 1989.

“We also know that our archive has great historical significance and needs to be preserved. It is our intention to engage Nga Taonga to explore how that can happen. We envisage this will take some time to work through.”

Today’s news follows yesterday’s confirmation that TVNZ will dump its long-running consumer affairs TV show Fair Go.

TVNZ will also discontinue 1 News' Midday and Tonight bulletins. The axe is also hanging over the publicly owned broadcaster’s current affairs programme Sunday, with staff due to find out today if it will be cancelled.