NZ Media News: TV exec to Vodafone, Stuff poaching, Nicky Hager win, Netflix movie buy

Mediaweek’s John Drinnan rounds up the latest media news from the NZ market.

Mediaweek’s John Drinnan rounds up the latest media news from the NZ market.

TV exec to run Vodafone

Russell Stanners

Jason Paris is to replaced Russell Stanners as chief executive of Vodafone NZ. Paris brings media experience to Vodafone, having headed marketing at TVNZ and at the TV operation at MediaWorks. Over the past six years, Paris has run the home mobile and business unit at the dominant Spark. The Commerce Commission recently knocked back Vodafone plans to merge with Sky TV, but the companies have pledged to cooperate extensively. Stanners is rumoured to be replacing John Fellet as CEO at Sky TV later this year

Stuff poaches for its A-team

Fairfax-owned Stuff has been involved in a flurry of poaching senior editorial staff. The print-digital operation hired Carol Hirschfeld as head of video, audio and content partnerships. Hirschfeld recently, and controversially, exited her role as head of content at Radio New Zealand, after being involved in a political stoush about a secretive meeting with the broadcasting minister, Clare Curran.

Meanwhile, high profile Auckland specialist reporter Todd Niall has joined Stuff after more than 30 years with RNZ.

Rebecca Stevenson has been appointed national business editor for Stuff, after a short stint as business editor at the focused Spinoff website. She replaces Ellen Read, who has been appointed press secretary to Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

Also joining Stuff are high profile feminist and RadioLive presenter Alison Mau and Parliamentary reporter Andrea Vance, formerly with TVNZ.

Nicky Hager wins apology and payout

Nicky Hager

Media are judging a police apology and payout to high profile investigative journalist Nicky Hager as a win for media freedom. Back in 2015, the High Court found police illegally raided and searched Hager’s Wellington home after publication of his book Dirty Politics, which exposed the National government spinning material to selected right-wing blogs, undermining opponents. Police initiated the raid looking for the source for information against the government, and accessed his banking details. Kiwi police have increasingly come under scrutiny over political independence of events, such as the Kim Dotcom police raid in conjunction with the FBI and intervening with media to refute unpublished rumours about Clarke Gayford, the partner of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Legal battle

The property baron and former National Business Review columnist Sir Robert Jones has lodged a defamation claim against Renae Maihi. The Maori filmmaker organised a petition of 68,000 people seeking the government to remove Sir Robert’s knighthood over what she said were racist comments, including suggestions Maoris should replace the national holiday, Waitangi Day, with Maori Gratitude Day to non-Maoris. The NBR pulled the paywalled column after complaints. Jones said the column was satirical and a joke. There has been a divisive debate about introducing hate speech legislation, heightened by comments from Israel Folau about homosexuals.

Reality heartbreak

Heartbreak Island hosts Matilda Rice and Mark Dye

TVNZ2’s new reality show Heartbreak Island has had a modest start on its first night on Monday this week. It came in third behind Three’s Dancing With The Stars and the TVNZ1 consumer show Fair Go. TVNZ has bet big time on the format, which it co-owns and which is running at 7.30 pm three times a weeks.

RNZ content sharing plans

RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson says the public broadcaster is keen to expand its content-sharing arrangements with other New Zealand media outlets. Thompson said the revenue from its content-sharing arrangement with Stuff was “peanuts”, but gave exposure it couldn’t afford to pay for. The state-owned broadcaster now has 25 content-sharing arrangements and is looking to do more.

Netflix acquires hit Kiwi movie

Makers of the hit Kiwi comedy The Breaker Upperers have secured a deal with Netflix and it will debut on the platform next year. The movie has already earned NZ$1.7 million on the Kiwi box office, and debuted to good reviews in Australia at the Sydney Film Festival. Co-producer Ainsley Gardiner said discussions first opened with Netflix soon after the movie’s debut at the South By Southwest Film Festival in March, in Texas.

Top photo: The Breaker Upperers

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