Rising costs see MediaWorks earnings drop 50pct

Rising costs see MediaWorks earnings drop 50pct

MediaWorks has revealed its financial performance for 2015 year, which includes an earnings drop before interest and tax of about 50 percent.

However the company, which owns an extensive nationwide radio, television and digital network -- including this website -- says it still made a profit of around $20 million.

The figure isn't an audited result because Acting Chief Executive Officer David Chalmers wanted to talk about the "underlying" performance of the company.

"We are not worried about painting a rosy or less rosy picture. They are what they are and the important thing is around why what they are. And they are what they because we have been making investments and changing the business around."

Audited figures for both 2014 and 2015 were released, but Mr Chalmers said that was not comparing "apples with apples". That's because the 2014 financial year was cut to just 10.8 months when the company was put into receivership, while the following 2015 financial year was 15 months long.

MediaWorks is now moving its financial year to match the calendar year, so Mr Chalmers wanted to talk about the underlying performance of the company for the 2015 calendar year.

He says revenue is down by 3 percent and that is broadly in line with what other people in the market have seen.

Costs rose by 7 percent due to investment in local content, and a growing cost base due the legacy of a having three separate businesses of radio, TV and digital. The company had also invested $20 million in capital expenditure on projects like Newshub, the news set and buying extra radio spectrum.

Mr Chalmers says the focus is now building the company as a single news and entertainment brand.

Building bridges

Year 2015 saw the company start to restructure its 3 News and RadioLIVE newsrooms into Newshub and the loss of several high-profile programmes and staff, including John Campbell. Recently newsreader Hilary Barry and CEO Mark Weldon have also resigned.

Mr Chalmers acknowledged it has been turbulent times but couldn't guarantee the company was headed for a more stable future.

"Yes and no. Absolutely we want to return some stability, but I think we need to understand the media market by its nature at the moment. Whether you are sitting in Sydney or Auckland, any part of media by its nature is changing. So yes I think from a cultural point of view we do a bit of bridge building there."

Mr Chalmers said he wanted to continue to build the culture, but it doesn't mean there won't be continual changes in the industry and pointed to the proposed merger of media companies NZME and Fairfax NZ.

What will the owners do?

MediaWork's owner, Oaktree Capital, took 100 percent control of the company in May 2015.

Since then there has been speculation as to what its intentions are for MediaWorks, but Mr Chalmers said there are no current plans to list, split or merge the company.

"I think the best evidence around Oaktree is irrespective of how long they stay around, they have been investing as a long-term builder of the business."


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