Jacinda Ardern rejects notion Government's COVID-19 response caused magazine publisher's closure

The Prime Minister rejects the notion that the Government's response to COVID-19 caused magazine publisher Bauer Media to collapse.

On Thursday morning, Bauer announced it would be closing, spelling the end for some of New Zealand's biggest magazines - including Woman's Day, Woman's Weekly, The Listener, North and South and Metro.

However Jacinda Ardern on Thursday afternoon revealed that the Government offered Bauer financial assistance in the form of subsidies, only for the media company to reject it.

"They should have taken it up, they should have kept going," she said in a press conference from Parliament.

"Some of the reporting I've seen I find incredibly unfair. No one wanted to see the loss of these magazines - they were a big part of people's lives.

"Within a couple of days of the New Zealand Government announcing the lockdown, Bauer contacted [Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media] Minister [Kris Faafoi] and told him they weren't interested in subsidies.

"They didn't enter a conversation about becoming an essential service, they didn't seek to operate in lockdown, and they didn't want to use the Government support to keep their doors open.

"So I just reject any suggestion that COVID-19 and our response to it has caused them to close their printing press, but I deeply regret that it has."

Ardern's comments come in stark contrast to those of media commentator Bill Ralston, who told Newshub that Bauer "got a bullet in the back of the head when the Government decided to ban magazines and local newspapers".

"If you're as compromised in financial health terms as the media industry is, then a Government ban will kill you off," he said.

However, Ardern's claims that Bauer didn't fight to stay open and outright refused subsidies puts Ralston's comments into disrepute.

Later in the press conference, the Prime Minister said her comments on Bauer were no way an indictment on any employees in New Zealand.

"Keep in mind this is an operation that operates out of headquarters in Europe."

Earlier on Thursday, Bauer's Australia and New Zealand chief executive officer Brendon Hill described the closure as "devastating".

“This is a devastating blow for our committed and talented team who have worked tirelessly to inform and entertain New Zealanders, through some of the country’s best-loved and most-read magazines," he said in a statement on Thursday.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused advertising revenue to dry up across the board, signalling difficult times for media in New Zealand as a whole.