Christopher Luxon, Winston Peters, David Seymour, Chris Hipkins, and others react to shock Newshub closure news

  • 28/02/2024

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said it was "shocking and saddening" news that Newshub was closing.  

He said it would be a "pretty tough day" for the employees and their families.  

Luxon said consumers are now choosing to get their news through a variety of outlets. He added there was a "plurality of voices" in New Zealand and that would continue despite Newshub's closure.  

Luxon spoke with Glen Kyne, Warner Bros. Discovery head of networks (NZ, Australia, Japan), ahead of the announcement to understand why the decision was made and what it would mean for staff.  

"What was quite obvious to me is that Warner Bros Discovery is one of the largest global media companies in the world, $20 billion I think, is what it's worth, and as a result, they couldn't make that business model work and so they're having to face up to declining advertising revenues, also changing consumer habits, and that's why they've come to the decision they have."  

He said the media must "continue to innovate to find innovative business models to make businesses like that stand-up".  

Luxon would not acknowledge a problem with the language politicians were using to describe media.

"If there's a trust challenge with the New Zealand public... they need to ask questions about why aren't they connecting, why aren't they able to build sustainable business models," Luxon said.  

ACT leader David Seymour said, "it's a sad day for many employees personally".  

"It's also a sad day for New Zealand's democracy which requires a competitive media market so people can get a wide range of views about what's happening in their country."  

He suggested that another operator may yet step forward to take over Channel Three news, something that has happened multiple times in the past.   

When asked whether the Government might intervene to provide support, Seymour said, "I don't think it's the role of a government to own TV stations.  

"I think there's a question mark over the ownership of TV One and the poor returns it's demanded as a shareholder and whether it's contributed to an uncompetitive market," he said.   

Seymour said he had requested advice about that very issue in light of Newshub's announcement.   

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called it a "disaster" for those employed and their whānau.  

"It's also a disaster for this country's democracy," he said.  

Peters confirmed that he had personally considered Government intervention but said, "I'm not going to say any more than that".  

He said that without an independent fourth estate, he was "concerned about where we're going now".  

Asked whether it was appropriate to use phrases like "woke media" when the industry was struggling, Peters said he was "calling out the truth".  

"You know it's woke, and all the evidence is there for that... they've lost substantial trust from the public.  

"Now, those are facts, if you want to turn us into some sort of argument blaming me then you've got to be joking."  

Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Melissa Lee, said the news was "very sad" and that Warner Brothers. Discovery had "never reached out for assistance" but that there was likely nothing that could have been done regardless.  

She was not concerned about the state of media in New Zealand.   

"I don't think it's just television people are watching, it's one of many options that people actually have," she said.   

She said that consumers are engaging with media across a variety of platforms.  

Asked whether having only one television network concerned her, she said, "I don't see it as only one television network, I see it as a media landscape".  

Lee said she'd spoken with Kyne last night when he had informed her of the announcement he was making today.  

She said Kyne told her the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill - which proposed to compel social media companies to pay for local news content it used - wouldn't have made a "single bit of difference".  

"They've made a business decision, and I don't think it's something I should be telling them how to do."  

Lee said she "felt for the staff who have been affected by the big decision today and they would have been very shocked".  

Labour leader Chris Hipkins also called it a "sad day for democracy".  

He extended his thoughts to everyone impacted by the announcement.   

"Democracy relies on an informed citizenry, being informed relies on debate, and that relies on a diversity of sources of information," he said.   

He pointed out that having two TV networks was "relatively modest" by international standards.

"Going down to one is not going to be good for the overall health and vitality of our democratic system."  

Former Broadcasting Minister, and Labour's Spokesperson for Broadcasting, said it was a "very sad time".  

Jackson said the industry had been "ravaged" in recent times.  

However, he said it wasn't for the Government to hand out money to Newshub.