Warner Bros. Discovery to Restructure New Zealand Operations


Warner Bros. Discovery has proposed a restructure of its business in New Zealand, including the closure of Newshub’s multiplatform news operations, with all local content to be produced in conjunction with funding partners.

“We are acutely aware of our position in the local media landscape, what this means for our people and for the country as a whole,” said James Gibbons, president for the Asia Pacific at Warner Bros. Discovery. “There was no single trigger that caused this; rather, it was a combination of negative events in New Zealand and globally. The impacts of the economic downturn have been severe, and the bounce back has not materialized as expected. Advertising revenue in New Zealand has disappeared far more quickly than our ability to manage this reduction and to drive the business to profitability. Everyone can see that the media sector here in New Zealand and around the world is facing some very tough circumstances. While Warner Bros. Discovery is a large global media company, each business is managed on its ability to sustain itself within the market it operates in. Subsidizing losses for ongoing years indefinitely is not sustainable.”

The restructured business will center on the on-demand platform ThreeNow, supported by free-to-air linear channels. All local content for Three and ThreeNow will be made in conjunction with funding partners. Drama, comedy, sport, reality and factual content will be acquired from the global market. The slates will also feature key titles from Warner Bros. Discovery’s library. Bravo, Eden, Rush and HGTV will continue in their current form with the same content slates. The consultation process runs until mid-March. A final decision is expected in early April. If the proposal moves forward, changes will take place after June 30.

“The proposal is a result of a review of our New Zealand business, and while we didn’t come to it easily, it is one that we believe would be financially sustainable for the long term,” Gibbons said. “It is the people that make this company the beloved part of the New Zealand landscape. This consultation process is not easy, and we will be doing everything we can to support our teams.”

Glen Kyne, senior VP and head of networks at Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ, added: “Everybody who works for Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ has done everything we could have asked. This proposal is not a reflection of these efforts. Every time we think we’ve landed on stable footing, something comes along and makes it unstable again, forcing us to look at ways of further reducing costs. We’ve now reached a stage where any further reduction in costs means proposing major changes. This is why we are proposing to shut down the newsroom. This would mean stopping all news production, including the Newshub website from June 30. If implemented, the proposal would be a significant change to our New Zealand operations. Warner Bros. Discovery would be committed to retaining a local presence, albeit with a much smaller operating model and lower cost base. We know that Newshub has been such an important and central part of TV3 since day one and is a crucial part of a functioning media sector in New Zealand. We also know that New Zealanders have come to love our local shows, from Dancing with the Stars to The Block NZ to Black Coast Vanishings. Free-to-air and news are expensive businesses to run. Put simply, the economic headwinds mean the returns are not there. These proposed changes will be hard if they are implemented, but we think they are necessary, which is why we have commenced consultation.”

The company’s other New Zealand businesses, across theatrical production and distribution, content licensing, affiliate partnerships and the local production operation WBITVP NZ, are not part of the consultation.