Coronavirus: NZHerald, Newstalk ZB owner NZME cuts more than 200 jobs

NZME's premises.
NZME's premises. Photo credit: Getty.

NZME, which owns the NZHerald, Newstalk ZB and multiple radio stations, is cutting more than 200 positions - 15 percent of its entire workforce. 

In an update to the NZX on Tuesday morning, the media company said it was implementing multiple cost-saving measures in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. April 2020 advertising revenue is expected to be 50 percent lower than that of April last year, despite record levels of viewership on some platforms.

Among the initiatives is a "wide-scale workforce restructuring project" which will result in the reduction of more than 200 positions or 15 percent of the company's workforce. This will include redundancies and removing vacant positions from across the business. 

The company will ask remaining employees to accept a pay cut for 12 weeks and take annual leave.

Full list of NZME's cost-saving initiatives: 

  • Applied for and received the government wage subsidy for all eligible employees.
  • In accordance with offers made by the CEO and independent directors, reduced directors’ fees and CEO salary by 20 percent from March 2020.
  • Implemented a wide scale workforce restructuring project, resulting in the reduction of over 200 positions, including redundancies and removal of vacant positions across the business, representing over 15 percent of NZME’s workforce.
  • Requested employees to take annual leave.
  • Temporarily suspended products, including a number of newspaper inserted magazines covering real estate, motoring and travel, and reduced sports coverage and publication of community newspapers.
  • Ceased broadcasting Radio Sport and reduced the size of NZME’s sports coverage teams, with the expectation that NZME can substantially transfer the revenues from these operations to other NZME products.
  • Reduced overall discretionary spend and sought rental abatement from its landlords.
  • Reduced planned capital expenditure for the remainder of 2020.
  • On Tuesday, started the process of asking all remaining employees to continue on a reduced salary basis for a twelve-week period.

The majority of staff at NZME are working from home, while those required to continue operating from the company's premises are doing so with appropriate preventative measures in place.

NZME is not the first media business to be hit by the pandemic. Bauer Media shut up shop last month, while Mediaworks has asked staff to take a 15 percent pay cut.