John Drinnan: Radio NZ downplays restructuring

Radio New Zealand. Photo / David Rowland
Radio New Zealand. Photo / David Rowland

Radio New Zealand has played down reports of big changes and restructuring affecting several senior executives at the state broadcaster.

Sources said the long serving head of news at Radio New Zealand, Don Rood was one of those affected.

However, RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson rejected the speculation, saying talk of a substantial restructuring was wrong.

RNZ sources also say that Thompson is working to change the approach to reporting at RNZ so that it is more proactive in its news coverage.

The changes have led some at RNZ to complain about "speed wobbles" due to the pace of change since Thompson joined.

The afternoon schedule at RNZ National has been amended to make room for Simon Mercep and it is understood there has been tension in merging the talents of Afternoons on Radio NZ show host Jim Mora with Mary Wilson on Checkpoint.

There have also been personality clashes in the business news department. Business editor Jenny Ruth is now the last person standing.

Meanwhile, new Morning Report host Guyon Espiner will have a role setting the tone and presentation of the Radio New Zealand National breakfast programme when the new show launches on Wednesday.

Espiner and co-presenter Susie Ferguson take over from Geoff Robinson and Simon Mercep marking a big change for the show and RNZ in general.

Well-placed sources said that management had agreed that Espiner - who will be based out of Auckland studios - will have a greater editorial role than previous hosts held in the past.

That was because of his experience as a former political editor at TVNZ and his background in current affairs. TVNZ sources said Espiner had applied for a vacancy as head of news and current affairs at TVNZ - replacing Anthony Flannery - and resigned when TVNZ gave his application scant interest. Instead the job went to Australian Ross Dagan - the creator of Seven Sharp who resigned within 10 months.

Ferguson, who will be based in Wellington, would also be more actively involved in the editorial process, said the well-placed source.

- NZ Herald

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John Drinnan has been a business journalist for twenty years, he has been editor of the specialist film and television title "Screen Finance" in London, focussing on the European TV and film industry. He has been writing about media in New Zealand since the deregulation of the television industry in the late 1980s.

Read more by John Drinnan

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