Mediaweek New Zealand: News

Mediaweek’s NZ writer John Drinnan rounds up the media news in the NZ market

News division restructure

Television New Zealand has announced restructuring of its news division. The state-owned broadcaster declined to specify job cuts, but staff approached by Mediaweek said that they would likely include 10% of the 239 news staff. Chief executive Kevin Kenrick said restructuring would take three to six months. The restructuring has been tipped for a long time with a slump in television advertising. Kenrick says the restructuring is aimed at making its news services sustainable.

Interactive investment

Interactive Advertising revenue generated NZ$890.9 million for the full year in 2016 and NZ$244.6 million in the fourth quarter of the calendar year. In 2016, the 11% increase year-on-year was fuelled by significant spend increases in Mobile (61%) and Social Media (53%). Search and Directories increased by 10% to reach $490.7 million for the year capturing 55% of total interactive spend over the full year period. Year-on-year increases in Video (up 6%) and Programmatic (up 5%) were offset by a decrease in General Display advertising spend.

Agency move

NZ lines company Chorus appointed Saatchi & Saatchi and Starcom New Zealand as its new creative and media agencies, following a competitive pitch that began at the end of 2016. The incumbent agency was Contagion. The return of the account will be welcomed by Saatchi. Chorus was broken away from Telecom, which was the biggest company in New Zealand. During the days when Saatchi controlled more than 50% of the NZ ad market, it had an impenetrable hold on the business.

Merger appeal

Sky TV and Vodafone have lodged an appeal to the High Court against a Commerce Commission decision that rejected their merger. Sky TV chief executive John Fellet said the full decision had not been released in time for the 20-day appeal period, so their decision was purely to protect their position. The parties would decide whether to go ahead once the ComCom rationale was cleared, in the next week or so. Rejection of the merger surprised many in the sector and was focused on the impact of the merger in damaging the wholesale market for programming, which is dominated by Sky.

Merger outlook

Postponement of the Commerce Commission final decision for the NZME-Fairfax merger is being viewed as a positive after a draft decision in November made rejection almost inevitable. NZME and Fairfax won a reprieve form the regulator’s axe with the Commerce Commission delaying its final decision on their merger from March 15 to April 11. The applicants had provided a large amount of extra information after its November 8 draft decision rejected the merger. “NZME and Fairfax believe this information further substantiates the key arguments set out in the original merger application,” ComCom said.

TV format sales

Drama production house South Pacific Pictures has enjoyed international sales of formats, this time for Step Dave, about a young man who happens into a relationship with an older woman. The format has sold to Ukraine and is currently in negotiations to be made in Hungary and the US. The format for 800 Words, made by SPP with Seven Productions for Seven Network in Australia, is also in production in the Netherlands. Another successful SPP show, Outrageous Fortune was adapted in the US and the UK.

Kim Dotcom at Hot Docs

Three New Zealand films will screen at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary film festival. Slavko Martinov’s Pecking Order and Florian Habicht’s Spookers will each have their world premieres at the festival, while Annie Goldson’s Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web follows its successful SXSW world premiere in Austin, Texas last week with screenings in Toronto.

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