Hundreds of jobs on the line as future of MediaWorks' TV business Three up in the air

As many as 520 jobs could be on the line as MediaWorks puts its TV arm up for sale.

Three has produced classic TV shows from Bro' Town to Outrageous Fortune over its proud 30-year history.

It has also produced a host of news and current affairs shows.

Today's announcement is not the first time the station's financial future has made the news - it's been in receivership twice.

But this morning, staff crowded around as the announcement was made that MediaWorks TV was up for sale.

The company's chief executive Michael Anderson says Three is facing the same challenges as other TV stations globally.

"We cannot, as the market stands now, find a way to make TV sustainably profitable," he says.

"And we believe it's best for another owner to be able to do that."

But that begs the question - who might that other owner be?

"The only local buyer that I see would be Sky, who would close Prime, move that operation to Three, put the rugby on Three and that might be a viable proposition," says media commentator Mark Jennings. "Otherwise I think we're looking at an overseas buyer."

Newshub approached Channel 9, which says it has "no interest", while Channel 7 said "no comment".

MediaWorks bosses say it's an unfair market because TVNZ is a state-owned enterprise and doesn't have to pay a dividend to the Government. TVNZ declined to comment.  

MediaWorks is calling on the Government to level the playing field.

Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi is making no promises, saying in a statement it's a commercial decision he doesn't want to intrude in.

MediaWorks bosses wouldn't speculate about what would happen if a buyer isn't found.

And it's not just the station that's up for sale, but the building too, and that's thought to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

"There are so many people that would look for an asset like this, it's pretty rare in the current market to have a mixed-use zone property so close to the CRL with so many options going for it," says Lloyd Budd, of Bayley's Real Estate. 

Anderson says he is hopeful a buyer will be found.

"We anticipate that we will find a buyer, but outside of that, this is a period where it is very uncertain for our staff and we appreciate that," says Anderson.

Three was due to celebrate its 30th birthday next month, in the meantime bosses say it's business as usual.