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'We're looking at everything': TVNZ CEO fronts on job cuts

Author
Article by Ben Leahy,
Publish Date
Fri, 8 Mar 2024, 4:59pm
TVNZ CEO Jodie O’Donnell. Photo / Dean Purcell
TVNZ CEO Jodie O’Donnell. Photo / Dean Purcell

'We're looking at everything': TVNZ CEO fronts on job cuts

Author
Article by Ben Leahy,
Publish Date
Fri, 8 Mar 2024, 4:59pm

Television New Zealand (TVNZ) chief executive Jodi O’Donnell has told Newstalk ZB's Heather du Plessis-Allan she didn’t want to cut any shows, but it had been a day of hard decisions.

“It’s only a proposal at this stage," O'Donnell said. 

"We have spent the seven months working across the business trying to find cost savings,” she said

However, it hadn’t been enough, she said.

“We need to do something more significant. So we’ve had a look at all our options. I’ve been open about the fact there are no ‘sacred cows’ and we need to find ways to stop doing some things because we need to cut costs."

O'Donnell said TVNZ was investing more than $40 million into news and current affairs: “So we absolutely believe in the future of news and current affairs.”

She said, though, TVNZ’s operating model was more expensive than the revenue it was making.

"We need to find ways to stop doing some things because we need to cut costs."

Pressed on specifically which programmes would be cut - including possible changes to Shortland Street - O’Donnell said any show could be affected: “We’re looking at everything.”

“We’ll constantly be looking at things to keep our operating model in line with our revenue.

“We are a commercial business. That’s the remit we need to work with.

She said TVNZ’s decision-making was partly based on which shows would work in a “digital world”.

O’Donnell confirmed TVNZ did not consider cutting 1News down to a half hour.

"What we see with the one-hour news bulletin, it’s an incredibly profitable hour of broadcasting and it also delivers incredibly strong on our digital platform."

She said there had been a continual decline in advertising revenue across this financial year.

“Our competitors these days are not [Newstalk ZB] or Sky or Warner Brothers, but they are Google and Meta. These are multi-trillion dollar organisations.

“Ninety cents in every dollar spent in digital news advertising is going offshore. That’s 10 cents left for the likes of New Zealand Media and Entertainment, TVNZ, Stuff - any of the local broadcasters, and that’s a challenge.

“I mean you still can’t advertise on television on Sunday morning at the moment. That’s how outdated that [Broadcasting] Act is.

“I think, particularly in this environment of trust, it’s important that is really clear and it’s still independent."

She said she was ambitious about TVNZ’s digital future.

“We offer a broad range of content. Local is still an incredibly important part of that. As we build out that platform, that’s the challenge we have in front of us."

There were no other cuts planned, she said.

- NZ Herald

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