TVNZ trims budget, work force

Job reductions part of $12.8 million cost-savings program

SYDNEY -- New Zealand's largest broadcaster is trimming 90 jobs, about 9% of its work force, while tightening programming budgets as part of an NZ$25 million ($12.8 million) cost-cutting plan, TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis said Monday.

Other areas affected by the cuts at the state-owned broadcaster include departmental operating budgets and management salaries, which will be frozen in a bid to stem losses from a 10% decline in ad revenue this year.

Ellis first mentioned the cuts last month, saying that, while the state-owned broadcaster will report solid financial results for 2008 later this month, a drop in revenue has been accelerating, equating to an annualized NZ$30 million ($15.5 million).

TVNZ is suffering the same uncertain outlook as other advertising-reliant media around the world, Ellis said.

"That's why TVNZ will be accelerating its strategy to transform the business from a traditional analog, advertising-reliant broadcaster to that of a multiplatform, digital media company with diverse income streams," he said.

TVNZ derives about 90% of its revenues from advertising.

Local reports also said that Prime Television has begun laying off staff while Mediaworks, which owns TV3, C4 and various radio stations, announced a companywide pay freeze to try to avoid job cuts.

Australian broadcasters have not yet announced staff cuts, but are looking at savings and efficiencies. Market leader Seven Network Monday refuted local reports that owners Kerry Stokes and private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts were looking at AUS$50 million ($33 million) in savings across its media businesses, but a spokesman told the Australian newspaper that the company was looking at "managing our costs to reflect the downturn in the economy -- times are tough."

Elsewhere, some staff at Network Ten will start working four-day weeks and Nine Network owner PBL Media is looking at its costs as well.