Shortland Street: Fate of much-loved soap opera unknown amid TVNZ cuts

The future of New Zealand's beloved long-running drama Shortland Street is unknown.

It comes after TVNZ confirmed programmes including Fair Go and Sunday would be cancelled as it looked to cut costs.

Its midday and late night bulletins were also being axed.

Shortland Street, which has been on New Zealand television screens since 1992, is fully funded by TVNZ.

South Pacific Pictures, which produces the show, confirmed it was in close conversations with TVNZ about its future.

Chief executive Kelly Martin said: "In a classic case of life imitating art once again on Shortland Street we can confirm we are in close conversations with TVNZ about the future of the show.

"As yet, we do not know what the outcomes of these discussions will be."

The current storyline on Shortland Street sees the hospital running out of money.

In a statement, TVNZ said Shortland Street was commercially funded and paid for entirely by advertising revenue.

"Like many businesses across Aotearoa, the current recessionary environment is having a big impact on TVNZ.

"There's less advertising revenue going around as businesses tighten their belts, and that makes it increasingly difficult to fund our programming slate and provide our services to viewers.

"As a result, we need to look at everything across our slate to ensure we remain commercially viable. This includes Shortland Street."

South Pacific Pictures' former boss John Barnett said cutting down the number of episodes per week would not necessarily make the show cheaper to produce.

It could actually make the show more expensive to create and less relevant.

"You're not going to be topical, for a start, because you're going to have to pay people ... you'll want to shoot all of that in blocks so if you shoot in now in five months or six months rather than a year, it's going to be more expensive to hire people for those shorter periods."

Barnett said Shortland Street was a successful show, but other programmes that were also in the green had still been cancelled.

He hoped the show could survive as it had helped aspire and encourage people to join the screen industry.

TVNZ first announced plans to cut jobs last month in a bid to stay "sustainable".

Along with the programme cuts, Re: News will have its numbers reduced from 10 staff to six.

At the time the job cuts were first announced, Sunday presenter Miriama Kamo said the news of jobs possibly being axed was awful.

"It's devastating not just for our business, it's devastating for what it means for our wider society."

She said with the likely demise of Newshub it has "dire implications for our democracy".