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Warner Bros. Discovery Confirms New Business Model For Free-to-air Business In New Zealand

Warner Bros. Discovery today announced a new business model for its free-to-air operations in New Zealand. The restructure means the closure of all Newshub’s multi-platform news operations and output, including the Newshub website, AM, and the 6pm TV bulletin. Three and ThreeNow will stay a key part of Warner Bros. Discovery’s local offerings. The content will be a mix of local programming in conjunction with funding partners, acquisitions across drama, comedy, sport, reality and factual, and key titles from WBD’s extensive library. Bravo, Eden, Rush and HGTV will remain as they are. The new structure will see the business reduced by 294 roles to 120.

James Gibbons, President, Asia-Pacific, Warner Bros. Discovery says the restructure process has not been easy, but is necessary for the viability and success of Warner Bros. Discovery’s ongoing presence in New Zealand.

“When we announced the proposed restructure six weeks ago, we explained that there was nothing anyone in our New Zealand networks business could have done better – it was a combination of very strong economic headwinds both in New Zealand and the global market. As we said at the time, the downturn has been severe, and the bounce-back has not materialised as expected.”

“Just recently, it was revealed that in 2023 alone, $74 million disappeared from broadcast TV advertising in New Zealand. Apart from 2009, the year following the Global Financial Crisis, this was the single largest year-on-year drop in thirty years – a 14.3 per cent drop.

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“Every business in its own market has to be financially sustainable, and we simply could not continue in our current form.”

Following close consideration of feedback from the people of Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ, some changes have been made to the new structure of the business that differed from the original proposal. These include reporting lines, different roles, new roles and changes in workflows and processes. Ultimately, approximately 10 more roles have been included in the final organisation structure than originally proposed.

“We committed to listening to our people and we have done that. While we were not able to accommodate everyone’s suggestions, we carefully reviewed and considered each and every piece of feedback we received. I want to thank everyone who engaged in good faith and I want them to know they were heard.”

“The new model is how we see Warner Bros. Discovery continuing to be a strong and long-term part of the media ecosystem in New Zealand. It will be a smaller operation, but we’re confident it will be a viable – and importantly, sustainable – business model in the New Zealand landscape.”

Glen Kyne, Senior Vice President, Head of Networks, Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ, said the confirmation of the new structure is a difficult day for everyone who works for WBD ANZ and the country.

“With the massive reduction in broadcast TV advertising revenue, our free-to-air and news operations were simply too expensive to run as they were. We are deeply aware of the effect this is likely to have on the plurality of media voices in New Zealand. Having just one TV news operation in New Zealand – that is state-owned – will be an ongoing issue until it is solved. But as we noted on the day, it is simply impossible to continue operating in our current form.

“As we said from the beginning, our door has been open to listening to all internal and external feedback and ideas, and we will continue to do so. However, as of now, no deal regarding news output has been made.”

“Warner Bros. Discovery is committed to maintaining a strong footprint in New Zealand presence, albeit with a different operating model and lower cost base.

“We also know that our archive has great historical significance and needs to be preserved. It is our intention to engage Nga Taonga to explore how that can happen. We envisage this will take some time to work through.”

Those who have been impacted will have their final day on July 5, that will also be the final day for the Newshub bulletin. The first day of the new Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ business model will be on July 6.

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