TVNZ’s proposal to make savage cuts to its news and current affairs is an idiotic strategy worthy of the bosses of the Dilbert comic strip, said Green Party Broadcasting spokesperson Sue Kedgley.
Television New Zealand is cutting staff in its news and current affairs department in a bid to make higher profits and return a dividend to the Government.
"News and current affairs are the flagship programmes that bring in viewers at the critical 6-7:30pm time slot. Hacking the budget and firing staff will inevitably reduce quality and result in viewers migrating to other channels,” said Ms Kedgley.
“A drop in audience share will then affect advertising revenue resulting in an ever increasing downward spiral.”
Ms Kedgley said she was further alarmed to learn that the Wellington and Christchurch news offices were to be downgraded and the bureaus centralised in Auckland.
“Are we going to end up with the Auckland news, not the national news?”
“In a democracy it is vital that we have a robust fourth estate and comprehensive, informed and impartial news and current affairs,” said Ms Kedgley.
“The cutbacks to TVNZ’s news and current affairs as well as the funding freeze at Radio NZ will affect the ability for New Zealanders to be well informed, and receive high quality news and current affairs.
"It also demonstrates the cost to the nation of the government’s decision to strip TVNZ of its Charter and its public service responsibilities and leave it with the sole mandate of returning a profit.”
“If TVNZ was bound by a Charter and public service obligations, this surely would not have happened. It would have looked for cuts in other areas than the critical news and current affairs area.”
“Staff morale at TVNZ must be at rock bottom,” said Ms Kedgley.
“If TVNZ wants to look at some cost saving options it could start with cutting the $750,000 salary of CEO Rick Ellis before throwing more kiwis on the Key Government job scrapheap.”