NZME's Radio Sport to shut down indefinitely

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 17:  The new NZME building in Graham St on August 17, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. Reports that NZME and Fairfax are set to merge, along with TVNZ and Mediaworks continue in New Zealand and in the Australian media.  (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
Photo credit: File

New Zealand's only sports-dedicated radio station has gone off air indefinitely.

Newshub understands Radio Sport employees were informed that their frequencies would simulcast Newstalk ZB "indefinitely" from 1pm Monday.

Staff were apparently told that there was no guarantee the station would return to air when the COVID-19 pandemic subsided and were requested to attend meetings to discuss the viability of alternative roles that may be available for some. 

In a statement on the Radio Sport website, NZME said it had made the "incredibly difficult decision" to stop broadcasting.

"With the cancellation and suspension of virtually all local, national and international events and competitions, NZME has been forced to look closely at the level of sports coverage, including live events across all platforms."

NZME said the "reality of the impact" of Covid-19 was that these decisions had to be made.

In February, Radio Sport announced it would not renew NZ cricket commentary rights next summer.

"Radio Sport has enjoyed being the 'Home of Cricket' for over 20 years and we treasure our connection with New Zealand cricket fans,"  NZME head of talk Jason Winstanley said.

"We have been in discussions with New Zealand Cricket for some time, but haven't been able to reach agreement on the rights.

Radio Sport began as Sports Roundup, under the Radio New Zealand banner, during the early 1990s, providing live commentary of cricket, tennis and lawn bowls.

Sports Roundup was replaced with the dedicated Radio Sport network, after NZME (formally The Radio Network) took control in 1996.

Radio Sport was the host radio broadcaster for both the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the 2015 Cricket World Cup, and houses some of New Zealand's top sports jounalists and broadcasters.

More to come