Radio New Zealand chief executive Peter Cavanagh confirmed today he will be leaving at the end of the year and has apologised for his decision being revealed by New Zealand Herald.
The news was broken today in an article and Cavanagh said sorry to staff for not telling them before the news came out.
Cavanagh has resisted board moves for sponsorship of programming on Radio New Zealand National and Radio New Zealand Concert.
A source said the government-appointed board would likely press for a replacement who was less opposed to the concept.
In a memo to staff yesterday, Cavanagh said: "I am writing to advise you that I will be stepping down as Chief Executive and Editor-in-Chief of Radio New Zealand at the end of this year.
"I have advised the Board that after ten years as CEO, I will not be seeking to renew my contract when it expires in December. I'm announcing my decision now to give the Board as much time as possible to find the best person to lead our organisation into the future.
"I am sorry that news of my decision has already been published in today's NZ Herald. It has always been my policy that whenever there was important news affecting Radio New Zealand, you should hear it from me first.
"In this case there was a Board-approved timetable for me to advise you of my decision on Friday, ahead of any public announcement. I regret that this did not happen.
"While my departure is still some way off, I would like to take this opportunity to say what a great privilege it has been for me to lead a world class public service broadcaster like Radio New Zealand over the past decade, he said.
"We can all take enormous pride in the fact that New Zealand's only national public service broadcaster - the only media organisation which exists solely for the purpose of serving the public interest - is also the country's most successful radio service.
"I expect the Board to make a formal announcement later today about its plans to recruit a new Chief Executive and I will support them in any way I can in that endeavour," Cavanagh said.