John Drinnan

Media writer for the New Zealand Herald

New TVNZ chief executive 'will have work cut out'

Programmes such as One News, presented by Simon Dallow and Wendy Petrie, are a big part of TVNZ's future, says chairman Sir John Anderson. Photo / Supplied
Programmes such as One News, presented by Simon Dallow and Wendy Petrie, are a big part of TVNZ's future, says chairman Sir John Anderson. Photo / Supplied

Kevin Kenrick will have his work cut out when he takes over as chief executive of Television New Zealand next month.

A well-placed source at TVNZ said yesterday that "unless Kenrick moves quickly to sort out its executive team it will continue to lose high calibre people ... and end up with the dross".

Kenrick's appointment - revealed in the Weekend Herald - ended more than a year of uncertainty at TVNZ when several senior executives left the company, including chief executive Rick Ellis.

The source said the loss of senior people was amid an "astounding" lack of leadership and teamwork at the state-owned broadcaster. "There had been attempts to get executives to work together as a team, but to no avail."

Ellis stepped down in November but had been tipped to leave for months before that.

The source - who insisted on anonymity - believed that Kenrick would "have his work cut out" dealing with the management culture at TVNZ.

Views on the company culture were mixed among other staff, but three confirmed a sense of limbo, during which TVNZ has adjusted to new legislation to focus on profits only and developed a future around a closer relationship with Sky television.

Sky and TVNZ plan to launch a pay-TV joint venture called Igloo in the next few months.

TVNZ has succeeded in boosting its share of advertising revenue, partly because of structural problems at competitor MediaWorks, which owns TV3.

Kenrick was chief executive of House of Travel from 2008 to November 2011, but his previous experience at Telecom might be more relevant to TVNZ's future.

He held a series of leadership roles at Telecom from 1999 to 2007, in the Theresa Gattung-Rod Deane era, rising to the position of chief operating officer of consumer business.

TVNZ chairman Sir John Anderson said: "The future of TVNZ is all about continuing to deliver the news, information, and the great entertainment that Kiwis want to see, all while expanding how this is delivered to every screen."

But Anderson is also about to move on, with no replacement named.

He extended his term to find a replacement for Ellis and is due to leave before the end of the month.

The departure of the two top leadership figures has been exacerbated by the lack of a replacement for head of programming Jane Wilson, the resignation of head of news and current affairs Anthony Flannery and numerous senior news bosses - including political editor Guyon Espiner, who defected to TV3.

On Thursday, head of sales and marketing Paul Maher, who had sought the top job, left to head TV3, Four and its digital channels.

Admirers of Ellis and Anderson said the company has gone through an important transition. Ellis had built on the success of TVNZ ondemand and tvnz.co.nz. But there have also been failures such as Tivo - which cost the company $19 million.

Critics said Ellis did not present a strategic view, and a key change - the establishment of Freeview - had been completed at TVNZ by his predecessor, Ian Fraser, and led by TV3.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 21 Sep 2014 12:35:25 Processing Time: 514ms