Category: Media

Wendy Palmer Exits RadioWorks Updated by press release

Wendy Palmer resigned today as chief executive of the MediaWorks radio operation, signaling more big changes ahead for New Zealand media. Yesterday, Jeff Latch resigned as TVNZ director of content after 23 years.  Both have been major players in New Zeland media. Palmer has been a leading light of MediaWorks and she has maintained market leadership against NZME radio operations.

Jeff Latch is exiting TVNZ as well.

The stability and strength in Mediaworks radio – especially in Auckland – has balanced the major problems facing TV3. Sources say that Palmer has become frustrated with the ructions during the troubled era when Mark Weldon was CEO of MediaWorks. Weldon was more interested in TV, but sources say it was a challenging time for Palmer as well. Amidst persistent rumours of potential sales for MediaWorks there have been suitors for radio alone, but few when TV is included in the sale, sources say. In August last yea, Michael Anderson took over as CEO. His profile on the MediaWorks website highlights a background radio. “Michael spent seven years as CEO of one of Australia’s largest commercial radio groups Austereo (now Southern Cross Austereo) and before that as their Group Director, Sales. “Under Michael’s leadership, Austereo’s performance in both revenue and audience grew significantly – in a time of huge change to the industry.” MediaWorks has previously rejected several requests to speak to Anderson about the strategy and future of the firm.


A press release was issued but Palmer refused to comment further on her reasons for leaving.

MediaWorks Radio CEO, Wendy Palmer has decided to step down. Wendy has been with MediaWorks Radio almost 12 years – the last three of which have been as CEO Radio where she has led the business to its number one position in the market – with its highest ever ratings achieved last year.Wendy Palmer said: “It has been an absolute privilege to be part of such a brilliant team of people – I cannot thank them enough. I am so proud of everything we have achieved together and in particular over the last year – our great content team for our best ever ratings and the radio business overall for delivering our best ever financial performance. I wish them all the very best for the future.”Michael Anderson, MediaWorks CEO said: “We are really sad to lose Wendy but understand her decision to move on. She leaves our radio business in strong shape – and poised to move forward and capitalise on its leading position – thanks to her brilliant leadership and work with her teams and with clients. She has been a great support to me in my time at MediaWorks and I know I speak on behalf of the many, many people Wendy has worked with when I say she will be greatly missed.”David Gibbs, who has been assisting the radio team since the beginning of the year, will act as Head of Radio where he will lead the Regional Managers and branch operations working closely with Group Content Director – Music, Leon Wratt and Chief Commercial Officer, Glen Kyne.

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Fight Club: Sky versus TVNZ

Journo Cuts After Building Blowout Opinion

Television New Zealand’s answer to the collapse of journalism has been a $6o million refurbishment. That and a restructure of the news with fewer journalists. Don’t we deserve better from the state broadcaster and the politicians who control it?

TVNZ will not specify the number of journalist jobs that will be lost from the restructuring of news. My sources suggest that maybe 20 editorial positions will go, representing around 10 percent of its news staff. The Christchurch and Wellington bureaus will be cut back with more processing of video from Auckland.

Bill Ralston: TVNZ restructuring claims are bullshit

A few reporters will be moved to smaller provincial centres such as Queenstown and TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick says that new technology will make the news management more efficient and that will make up for the loss of staff. Some people – such as former TVNZ former head of news and current affairs Bill Ralston suggest there will be a loss of quality. Another former TVNZ news executive who would not be named said restructures are inevitable in media, but they seldom lead to the efficiencies they claim. Ralston points out that the first stop for TVNZ cutbacks is the news, while it retains a weighty middle management, As the old TV reporters sign off would put it. “Only time will tell.” But these latest cutbacks aimed at news illustrate the short-sighted thinking of TVNZ and the government.


Kevin Kenrick. Job cuts after blowout

There is so much happening with journalism and media – the only thought from the government is about trimming cost to keep TVNZ afloat I wonder if the TVNZ news operation should be broken away from its struggling Mothership. There is precious little love for news at TVNZ – even though it is largely kept afloat by it news audience. The main point of TVNZ nowadays is the survival of TVNZ.

TVNZ’s big initiative of late has been to undertake a $60 million upgrade of the network centre, after a $23 million blowout. Kevin Kenrick says it is wrong to link the cost overrun. Problems became apparent during work, he said.

Kenrick insists the restructuring cannot be juxtaposed the blown out cost for the refurbishment.

It was the first in 25 years. Maybe. But in my view the result from the taxpayers investing in the flash new building will be the further diminishing of a once proud newsroom, Once shows like Holmes played an active role in the news eco-system.  Nowadays TVNZ news is risk-averse. Of course it rates. And that is what matters for a management team focused on the short term.

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Put Some Oomph Into The Project

Caption: Maybe Jeremy Corbett or Paul Ego could help The Project cut through with the audience.

I am hoping that the core audience for The Project sticks with the show and gives MediaWorks time to fix it. Lord knows, audiences nowadays are not patient allowing new shows to settle in. But there is clearly a good idea there. It might just mean changing the line-up.

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Labour, Willie And The Future Of Maori Media Opinion

CAPTION: Willie Jackson and Labour’s Matt McCarten.

What happens to Auckland’s Waatea Maori Radio if Willie Jackson wins a place in the Labour caucus? As it stands he controls Waatea along with John Tamihere who head the urban Maori authorities for Manukau and Waipareira, though Jackson has an editorial role as well.  He heads the National Urban Maori Authority and is chairman of the Iwi Maori Radio Association representing 21 stations. He has a significant influence on Maori broadcasting, and indirectly on Maori TV. Labour is expected to announce soon he has been given a high place on the Labour list raising questions about how the independence of these bodies is maintained.  In my opinion that will need to be redoubled if Labour ends up leading the next government.


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Hoping For A News Edge On TV3’s 7pm Project

CAPTION: The main team on the new TV3 show, The Project. They look like a nice bunch.

MediaWorks needs more firepower on “The Project” if it is going to take viewers away from SevenSharp and Shortland Street. Commercially Tv3 is probably doing the right thing abandoning current affairs for comedy at 7pm. But there needs to be an edge to a prime time comedy news show. You assume they are thinking about that.

CampbellLive maintained 7pm ratings a long time,

News producers know the challenge of providing 22 minutes of content each weeknight at 7pm. But I hear the news people have very little involvement. You assume the entertainment people who are largely running The Project are fully aware of the challenges providing 22 minutes of humorous content each night live in prime time. Not only do they need to please the news-magazine audience that has been watching Story, they also have to attract a new audience. THe new show is expected to start next month.

TV3 looked at The Project format back in 2015 when it was looking at a replacement for Campbell Live.

Story was TV3’s last attempt at 7pm current affairs.

They would have looked at the TVNZ attempt at copying the format for the ill- fated first series of Seven Sharp to find what not to do. I am told that, back then, TV3 was frightened off by cost and scale of the Aussie format show. It was tenable for the Ten Network in Australia – it went on to win awards and good ratings – but back then it would not have been economic for TV3. Instead TV3 went for the traditional current affairs magazine format of Story, hosted by Duncan Garner and Heather du Plessis-

The Project in Oz has a news edge.

Allan. Of course that never made financial sense, either. Perhaps they should have stuck with comedy.

Named hosts for The Project are Jesse Mulligan, 7 Days regular Josh Thomson, and popular TV presenter Kanoa Lloyd. They are quite likable but its not apparent where the show will get the energy to carry off a prime time comedy show-Jesse Mulligan cut his teeth on Seven Days and was one of its main writers in the old days. Thompson can be genuinely funny. Its all very nice.

TV3 is said to  have very high hopes for Kanoa Lloyd – the Tv3 reporter and cheery weather woman. Lloyd is personable and is said to be very comfortable in front of the camera. Away from the weather map she may well turn out to be sharp-witted and energetic and will lead the crew into a new era of commercial success at 7pm. Fingers crossed Paul Henry pops in quite a bit – in the early days at least.




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Laid Back Summer A Week Too Long At RNZ

RNZ returns to its regular schedule on Monday – declaring an end to a four week summer when the world allegedly stops spinning for us all to catch our breath. Locally, its a time when politics and business slow down allowing local media operate on a skeleton staff for a couple of weeks. RNZ takes that a step further. It always restarts programming year on Wellington Anniversary Day, after what is effectively a month long break. Its a week too long. National Radio has been missing in action this week. The world is in upheaval due to Trump. Morning Report will return on Monday with the world utterly changed.

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Freeview And Pay TV

Prospects are still live for closer links between Freeview and Lightbox. TVNZ is still looking at taking a bigger stake in Freeview and part of that might see closer ties with the Spark owned pay tv platform, I am told by industry players.

One ndustry source suggested a tie up between TVNZ and Spark might not involve an equity stake. But the relationship might entail something as simple as having a Lightbox App on the Freeview platform to allow easy movement across platforms. Spark has declined to discuss plans to increase its media arm, but in my opinion Spark would make a good partner for free to air TV.

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Down Time In Provincial Print

Caption: The art deco Daily Telegraph building symbolised the steady, secure nature of provincial newspapers in the 1980s.

An old journalist colleague of mine, Mike Johansson and has a unique take of the changes facing print media. He started out as a cadet reporter at the now defunct Napier Daily Telegraph in what is now remembered as a strong and stable era for New Zealand print journalism.  Provincial newspapers were buoyed by classified advertising and had enough resources to sustain a rounds system that covered local news with some detailed understanding. He also worked as a sub-editor at The Press, in Christchurch, in what was, in retrospect, a golden era.

Johansson earned a Rotary scholarship to the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University in Upstate New York and after that he made a career nearby at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester owned by the giant Gannett Corporation.

“In 1986 when I landed in Syracuse, readership was in very slow decline,” he says.

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Hunkering Down For The Perfect Storm 2017: The Big Shakedown

It’s hardly news that newspapers have been going through heavy weather. But it is clear 2017 will be make or break time for New Zealand newspapers. All over the world papers are closing and downsizing. In general, NZ papers have remained profitable, though this week Fairfax New Zealand announced a $75 million loss after writing down the value of its papers by $100 million. But there are special problems here make our journalism more vulnerable. Partly it is because we have uniquely had no specific media and as a result we have already reached the point where our media is already ruled by duopolies. The next step is monopolies and the Commerce Commission regulating competition, seems wary of taking that step.

The romantic images a newspaper reporter - circa1946
The romantic images a newspaper reporter – circa 1946

Perhaps more than other countries New Zealand newspapers  have been doing the hard work building stories from the start – the heavy lifting some call it. Establishing the detail and diversity of news for other media that follow up on them.  A diminished resources for newspapers has already led to the end of the rounds system – where reporters brvsmr experts in issues or or institions, That has diminished newspaper reporter and had a downstream effect with poorer TV and radio bulletins. Further cuts are inevitable for newspapers and that will flow on to other media. The immediate future will be decided on March 15 when the Commerce Commission decides whether to change its mind and approve the merger of NZME. and Fairfax. The strong criticism in the ComCom draft report issued in November means that few expect merger approval. Commerce Commission chair Mark Berry appeared to go out of his way to discourage expectations for a turnaround, saying the influence of the combined countries as second only to Mainland China,. If it does occur there will likely be a swift change and layoffs .The two firms will stop sending two or more people to cover one news story. Some predict over 25 per cent of 3000 combined staff will go, including dozens of journalists. Even if there is no merger there will be cuts to staff longer term . Newspaper companies will have to assess how they can continue to make money in a market where their business model (they freely admit) no longer works.



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Mark Jennings Warning On The Future Of News Will The Internet Kill Journalism?


Caption: Fake News in Facebook promoted the election of Donald Trump.

Mark Jennings offers practical and realistic analysis on the parlous state of New Zealand News Media. This is the slightly abridged text of Jennings’ giving the John O’Shea memorial address to the SPADA conference this week.

I’d like to look at two major themes that have impacted the media this year. One is international and one is domestic.The first is the now widely held view that the world’s media is so out of touch that it completely misread Brexit and Donald Trump’s rise to power and has become irrelevant to a large part of the population.

Mark Jennngs warns about the power of Facebook
Mark Jennngs warns about the power of Facebook

The second one is, what’s led to the two biggest media organisations in this country feeling they have to merge to if they are to keep producing the sort of journalism that matters. In my view, there are many factors that are common to both these topics. It wasn’t that long ago that technology and the internet looked like they were going to be mainstream media’s greatest allies, in what I think is its key role, providing timely information and context to a wide audience.

The combination of technology and the internet promised so much. Looking back, I think it was a sweet spot in media history, a great time to be a journalist and I think the public was well served too. Profitability and competition spawned a whole range of new products and product innovation. I’d like to fast forward to  the rise of Google and Facebook

Could Mark Zuckerberg become editor in chief.
Could Mark Zuckerberg become editor in chief.

– particularly Facebook. The traditional mainstream media has lost control of its distribution platforms. 50 percent of Americans now get their news from Facebook. I don’t know the figure for New Zealand but my gut tells that is probably similar. There are two big problems with this.The first one is money. If you are not buying a paper, reading the advertisements in it, or watching the ads on a free to-air news broadcast or paying to access material on line, then the content provider is going to go broke. As we know, that’s what’s happening around the western world including New Zealand.

It’s not a quick death though, it is a slow and painful one, as Facebook and Google suck more and more money out of the market.News providers cut staff, lower quality, steal each other’s material and now try to trick the public into clicking onto nonsense stories in the hope of staying in business. All mainstream news media now distribute their content via Facebook. They don’t make much money out of it but they don’t really have a choice.
What the mainstream media has done, perhaps unwittingly, though, is to legitimise Facebook as a news source.


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