Off the rails: Broadcasting minister plays down news closure

Feb 29, 2024 at 10:34 am by admin

New Zealanders have more to worry about than just the shutdown of news on Warner Bros Discovery’s Newshub: there’s the added concern of a broadcasting minister who says it won’t matter.

Alongside the dire responses to the NZ network’s closure “by the end of June” and the loss of up to 350 jobs – about 200 of them from the news operation – minister Melissa Lee asserted there would be no loss of plurality in the national conversation because “most New Zealanders now get their news on mobile phones”.

US-owned Discovery New Zealand is reported to have made after-tax losses in 2022 of more than NZ$34 million (A$31.9 million), up $800,000 on the previous year.

Its parent says the decision is due to factors such as challenging conditions in the advertising market and changing viewers' habits. The change will see the cancellation of Three's flagship 6pm news bulletin, and leave state-owned TVNZ as the nation's only major provider of free-to-air TV news.

Three’s linear channels will continue to be broadcast, but Warner Bros Discovery says it intends to focus on the ThreeNow digital app.

The announcement has been met with general concern: In The Conversation, Auckland University of Technology journalism lecturer Greg Treadwell commented that “if journalism in Western democracies has been on a roller coaster in recent decades, in Aotearoa New Zealand this week it threatened to come right off the rails.”

Peter Coleman

Sections: Digital business


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