Willie Jackson calls Media Minister Melissa Lee 'stupid', says she 'doesn't know what she's doing' amid Newshub, TVNZ turmoil

The Media and Communications Minister is being called "stupid" by her Labour predecessor as she faces pressure over her response to the turmoil within the industry. 

Labour's Willie Jackson hit out at National's Melissa Lee on Thursday, saying she "doesn't know what she is doing".    

It comes after a horror start to the year for the TV news industry, with Newshub's owner Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) on Wednesday confirming plans to close its entire news operation, which will see nearly 300 people lose their jobs.    

On the same day, TVNZ revealed it was axing the current affairs programme Sunday along with 1 News' Midday and Tonight bulletins. The iconic consumer affairs programme Fair Go is also being cancelled.   

Jackson urged Lee to reveal what the Coalition Government will do to help the ailing sector.   

"You'd think the minister and this Government could do a bit more," Jackson said.   

"We're not talking about a direct investment but you've got a Prime Minister who prides themselves on pulling business together.  

"Why can't they mediate some sort of business deal? Why can't they facilitate a process?  

"It seems like they're just bereft of any ideas or strategies whatsoever, I think it's shameful actually.    

"They have just totally given up and said, 'Bad luck.' You've got a stupid minister who doesn't know what she's doing."   

He went on to say the industry had been facing issues for several years, adding the previous Government tried to assist through its proposal to merge RNZ and TVNZ.    

On Thursday, Lee said there is a process underway and she will comment when it is complete.   

"The commercial decisions that were made by Warner Bros and TVNZ is for them to answer. What I can say is I am focused on trying to support the industry by innovating and...  modernising." 

Earlier, in the House, she offered assurances the sector "can have confidence in the Government who... listen to the people".   

"I take no pleasure in the situation happening in Warner Bros Discovery and TVNZ. There are challenges across the sector, like in many other parts of the New Zealand economy, due to the cost-of-living crisis," she told MPs.

"I am committed to working with the sector to support them to modernise and innovate so they can be more commercially viable. There is a process underway and I will have more to say once that process has been concluded."