Fallout from proposed Newshub closure ripples across industry

The fallout from the proposed closure of Newshub and restructure of Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is rippling across New Zealand's wider TV industry.  

Locally produced hit shows like The Block and Married at First Sight are in jeopardy, as are the careers of aspiring young journalists.  

The Government now says it will review the Broadcasting Act.  

There were tears first thing this morning on AM as co-host Melissa Chan-Green confirmed to audiences that AM would be going alongside Newshub.  

"AM and Newshub are one-in-the same," she said.

While Newshub employees come to terms with the decision, the impacts are rippling through Aotearoa.    

TV hits like Married at First Sight, The Block and The Traitors are at risk because WBD will no longer fully fund them.  

Andrew Szusterman, the managing director of South Pacific Pictures, said this "is problematic for the industry because they are well loved, shows that are well viewed".  

"They employ a lot of people across the whole sector, so that's a problem for local production," he said.    

WBD also gets New Zealand On Air funding for other programmes like Newshub Nation,   

It currently has $30 million paid or promised for various programmes.  

WBD NZ boss Glen Kyne said "we will honour all of our commitments.  

"We are still continuing to work with New Zealand on Air and other funding partners to franchise wherever possible. That will continue."   

But it's not enough.  

Szusterman said "there's no growth in that from Government".  

WBD said it told the Government last December it was in trouble and asked for a cut in Kordia transmission fees as a partial help.  

Broadcasting minister Melissa Lee said, "the advice I got was its not something we should be doing to provide relief to WBD, an overseas company".   

The biggest problem the industry faces is the $100 million drop in advertising revenue because of the move to streamers like Netflix.  

One answer being proposed is a revamp of the old Broadcasting Act, which would force streaming companies to make local content.   

Lee said, "one of the things I am focusing on and people have asked for is a Broadcasting Act review".  

Kyne said "it's shocking that an event like this should bring unity in the sector to start talking about these things".  

Phillip Smith, from another production company Great Southern Television, said New Zealand doesn't have the clout to force streaming giants to do that.   

Instead he suggest the production sector needs to be extra creative.  

"The impact is that there'll be a different way of funding shows.   

"We're a very creative industry; we'll have to think creatively. Three Now is still going to be in the content creation industry, and therefore, there is some optimism."

But perhaps less for the 300 staff who look to be affected by the cuts.