TVNZ news boss Ralston out

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- TVNZ's controversial news and current affairs boss, Bill Ralston, resigned Tuesday as the pubcaster prepares for an expected management overhaul before implementing its new digital strategy.

Media reports predict it will be a radical restructuring, but TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis denied this in an interview. "It's not radical. It's just a sensible re-look at the way we do things and the way we need to organize ourselves," he said.

In a statement to staff, Ellis said Ralston had led news and current affairs "during a very challenging three-year period and leaves with our best wishes."

Over that period, the flagship news bulletin's ratings nosedived amid a barrage of bad press about TVNZ management, including Ralston, and a presentation shake-up that axed top newsreaders.

Ralston's exit after three-and-a-half years follows an exodus of senior executives since Ellis was appointed last year, including programming chief Annemarie Duff and program commissioning chief Tony Holden.

In an e-mail to staff, Ralston said: "... with the current reorganization review of TVNZ, and plans to launch new digital services next year, it has become obvious that the changes in TVNZ news and current affairs requires a substantially longer period of commitment (at least another three years) and, sadly, I am unable to devote that amount of time to the task."
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