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Newshub Closing In June: High-Profile Presenters Face Job Losses

Newshub closing in June

Newshub Newsroom Set to Close, High-Profile Presenters and Journalists Affected, The New Zealand Herald reported.

Warner Bros. Discovery announced plans to close Newshub, one of the largest newsrooms in New Zealand, by the end of June. This decision will impact dozens of high-profile presenters and journalists, including 6pm news anchors Mike McRoberts and Samantha Hayes, and the new 7pm show host Ryan Bridge.

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Newshub staff have expressed shock at learning the media company is to close. The Asia-Pacific president of owners Warner Bros Discovery, James Gibbons, says the economic downturn has been severe, and a hoped-for bounce-back in revenue after Covid has not materialised. This staff member says it was unexpected.

"Mainly shocking just, I don't think anyone expected, really, for that to happen so suddenly.
"Some people here were upset because a few of them have been working here for 30 years."
It is understood that about 200 staff are affected, RNZ reported.
Newshub presenter Mike McRoberts told RNZ the news was "heartbreaking". He did not know what it meant for news but said: "We're a pretty good newsroom. If we can't make it work, who can?"

The closure will also include shutting down the Newshub website. Currently, the company employs at least 57 journalists.

At an all-staff meeting held at 11 am, Warner Bros. Discovery NZ boss Glen Kyne expressed the unfortunate nature of the decision. He mentioned that the company would look to co-fund local news, with ThreeNow becoming the "core" of a future digital business.

RNZ understands Newshub contacted the Prime Minister's office ahead of the 11 am meeting and asked for Christopher Luxon to get in touch. Luxon said it is "highly unlikely" there would be any government intervention in the sector.

"Massive change in consumer habits about how media is being consumed and how news is being undertaken and yet at the same hand you've seen a loss of traditional advertising revenue in the sector as well, and so that requires massive innovation for businesses, media businesses, to reinvent themselves, to innovate, to actually find different ways to be able to get their business models in place. So it's unlikely.

"Media players in the marketplace are completely free to innovate as they wish to make sure that they can build a sustainable business model that works for the customers that they serve ... there are some media outlets that are doing that and are working incredibly well."

He acknowledged that "we need a well-functioning media environment here in New Zealand", but said, "we have a range of media voices and a plurality of voices ... in a multimedia, omnichannel kind of way, and that will continue to develop".

"My conversations with Warner Bros Discovery today, a $20 billion media global company that couldn't find an operational model to make it work for them says to me that any government intervention they had in that case would not have changed the decision."
                       Also Read: https://www.indianweekender.co.nz/news/newshub-closure-all-you-need-to-know

RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson has also issued a statement.

"RNZ is deeply saddened by the news of the potential closure of the Warner Brothers Discovery Newshub newsroom.

"Any reduction in New Zealand media is devastating, both for those hardworking journalists and content creators who will be directly impacted, but also for New Zealand society as a whole.

"The role that a diverse media plays in a healthy functioning society and democracy should not be underestimated. We all benefit from having a local media that is strong, telling the stories of New Zealanders."

In a statement, Warner Bros. Discovery said they had started consultation on a proposed restructuring of its ANZ free-to-air business in New Zealand. This proposal includes closing all of Newshub's multiplatform news operations and output, with new local programming only in collaboration with local funding bodies and other partners.

The new show hosted by Ryan Bridge has faced delays, primarily due to a hiring freeze at Warner Bros. Discovery. It was initially expected to be on air by now, but recent estimates point to April or even June.

Three’s Newshub Nation and Paddy Gower Has Issues have also experienced delays. Additionally, Sarah Bristow, the head of news, has left the business, and Richard Sutherland has taken over as interim head.

Discovery acquired MediaWorks' TV arm, including Three and Newshub, in December 2020. MediaWorks continues to operate as a radio and outdoor business owned by US company Oaktree Capital Management and outdoor advertising company QMS.

Warner Bros. Discovery's New Zealand operation posted a $35 million post-tax loss in 2022, raising questions about its American owners' commitment to the operation. However, the directors committed to providing sufficient financial assistance to continue operations for at least 12 months from May 31, 2023.

Glen Kyne has highlighted the company's focus on a digital future, seeking financial relief from the Government for the entire New Zealand sector, including relief from significant Kordia fees paid for broadcast infrastructure. He emphasized the strategic transition to a digitally-led operating model, where broadcast infrastructure would not be required, benefiting multiple players in the sector.

                                                                This article will be updated as more details emerge
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