New Zealand FTA channel Three reveals plan to close newsroom with 200 losing jobs


Warner Bros Discovery NZ backflip just three months after announcing news expansion plans

The owner of New Zealand FTA commercial TV channel Three, Warner Bros Discovery (WBD), has shocked the market with plans to cease its Newshub operations.

In a statement released this week, WBD has telegraphed a plan to close its newsroom completely which produces news for the TV channel and website. Three brands its news operations in New Zealand under the Newshub banner.

Reuters reports under New Zealand law, a restructuring or redundancies must be consulted on before a final decision. A final decision will be made in early April.

Just last December, Three was promoting an ambitious news expansion plan for 2024. In December 2023, WBD was bragging about new programming and a brand-new news and current affairs show.

Newshub reports on its own axing

The new daily show was going to be a 7pm news program branded Bridge. It was named after the host Ryan Bridge. As recently as last Saturday, Shayne Currie was writing in The New Zealand Herald about a continued delay in the show starting. He wrote it may not air until June.

A WBD spokesperson told Currie nothing had changed and “the actual start date is not as important as getting it right from the start”.

The 7pm Bridge program would have added to the daily Newshub TV output of a three-hour breakfast program AM starting at 6am. The other daily TV products were Newshub Live (6pm for one hour) and Newshub Late (9.30pm for 30 minutes).

The closure leaves New Zealand consumers with very little choice when it comes to TV news. In the evening the choices at 1News at Six and News First on Sky Open at 5.30pm.

Although The New Zealand Herald reported this morning the “5.30pm news bulletin hosted by Eric Young on Sky TV’s free-to-air channel Sky Open is also in jeopardy”. The bulletin is produced by Three for Sky.

The commentary from Three last December also included: “Starting early next year and building on our core news offerings including Newshub Live at 6PM and AM.”

Warner Bros Discovery backflip

Now it is to close them both…what a backflip.

Newshub director of news Sarah Bristow announced her departure last October but she continued in the role until earlier this month.

Glen Kyne, a senior vice president, at Warner Bros Discovery in Australia and New Zealand said yesterday: “Free-to-air and news are expensive businesses to run. Put simply, the economic headwinds means the returns are not there.

“These proposed changes will be hard if they are implemented, but we think they are necessary.”

Up to 200 staff could be impacted

Newshub said on its website that journalists, producers, editors, camera operators and associated staff could lose their jobs. “Around 200 journalists, producers, editors, camera operators and associated staff could lose their jobs, in a move which would leave state-owned TVNZ with a near-monopoly on TV news production.”

Newshub also reported early this morning the hosts of AM made an emotional start to the show on Thursday morning after receiving the news Newshub is closing.


Hosts of Newshub breakfast program AM

Co-host Melissa Chan-Green started Thursday’s show by thanking the viewers before confirming AM would also shut down if the proposal by Warner Bros Discovery goes ahead.

Fellow host Lloyd Burr, who only started on the show last month described the past 24 hours as “whopping” for everyone in the newsroom.

See also: Warner Bros. Discovery on local production plans and possible Max launch date

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