MediaWorks CEO Mark Weldon has 'full support' of board after turbulent week

By Matt Nippert, David Fisher

Hilary Barry's exit from TV3 has not dented the position of broadcasting boss Mark Weldon with the MediaWorks board of directors giving him "full support".

The board meeting today was anticipated as a key moment in Weldon's turbulent tenure as chief executive of MediaWorks.

It followed the shock resignation of Barry, MediaWorks' morning co-host with Paul Henry and co-anchor of TV3's 6pm news. She was the latest in a long line of journalists, personalities and key staff to exit the broadcaster since Weldon became chief executive in August 2014.

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Speculation about his position was dismissed by MediaWorks chairman Rod McGeoch. In a statement following the meeting he said Weldon had the "full support" of the board.

McGeoch said every mainstream media company in the world was undergoing significant change. He said the changes involved major restructuring which included a focus on reducing costs. Part of that was reviewing the profitability of shows.

MediaWorks CEO Mark Weldon (L) leaves the Ponsonby Road office with members of the board. Photo / Dean Purcell
MediaWorks CEO Mark Weldon (L) leaves the Ponsonby Road office with members of the board. Photo / Dean Purcell

"MediaWorks is no different. We have to change and we are changing. We have a clear strategy for this, led by our CEO." He said there was "full support for the CEO executing that strategy".

Weldon appeared less certain on leaving the meeting. Asked if he had the backing of the board, he said: "I think so."

The Spinoff website added to the furore around Barry's departure saying executives and other staff at MediaWorks were preparing to walk out if Weldon was not removed.

It quoted a MediaWorks source as saying resignations at executive level and throughout the organisation's television and radio businesses were expected "within days" if the board kept Weldon in his role.

The Spinoff's source said staff were troubled by the departure of key staff including Peter Crossan, Liz Fraser, Clare Bradley, Paul Maher, Katie Mills, Rachel Lorimer, Amanda Wilson, Mark Jennings and Inna Goikhman.

The Herald yesterday quoted a source who called it the "Axe Factor" - a play on the X Factor show - and cited the loss of staff as key to Barry's decision to leave TV3.

The source said Barry had always stayed loyal to the broadcaster but was dismayed to see the loss of people including Campbell Live host John Campbell, the show's producer Pip Keane, newsreader Carolyn Robinson, sports presenter Hamish McKay, head of news Mark Jennings, current affairs editor Terence Taylor, 6pm news producer John Hale, and 3D journalists Paula Penfold and Melanie Reid.

Penfold told Radio NZ she estimated staff turnover around the 25 per cent level at the company, which owns TV3, Four and a number of radio stations including The Edge, The Breeze and More FM.

The board meeting was the first since company owners, Oaktree Capital, put in their own representative Jonas Mitzschke as a director. The company's constitution was also changed to require board approval for spending over $2m.

Even before Barry's departure this week was shaping as a big one for the network, with an announcement tipped to tomorrow confirm a joint venture with NBCUniversal to re-brand Channel Four as female-focused station Bravo.

The departure of Barry, particularly if as expected she lands at rival TVNZ, has thrown a spanner into these plans drawing attention to a procession of high-profile talent that has left the network in the two years since Weldon took over.

- NZ Herald

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