TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick dished out a $1000 bonus to around 500 staff in August.

At the time, NZ Herald's Hamish Fletcher called the one-off payments a "cheap trick."

Now, the pre-Christmas payout look even cheaper, with the state broadcaster's annual report to Parliament revealing Kenrick got a $72,334 bump in total remuneration last year, taking his total pay to $1.43 million - with his personal bonus swelling to $460,054.

Kenrick's base salary remained at $840,857, but his holiday, super, short-term incentive payments all rose (see table below).

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The boosted payments follow a round of restructuring, which included newsroom cutbacks.

Kevin Kenrick's total remuneration, 2018 vs 2017. Source: TVNZ annual report.
Kevin Kenrick's total remuneration, 2018 vs 2017. Source: TVNZ annual report.

The TVNZ boss can point to a 2018 financial year net profit of $5.1m, up from $1.4m in 2017 - but still well shy of the state broadcaster's $12.7m profit in 2016, when Kenrick's total remuneration was $1.1m.

TVNZ responds, refuses to detail performance goals

A spokeswoman for TVNZ said Kenrick and chairwoman Therese Walsh were both travelling overseas today and unavailable for interview.

Walsh said in a pre-prepared statement, "CEO remuneration is set and considered carefully by the Board each year. It's based on independent market advice and the Board's rigorous assessment of his performance against specific objectives each financial year.

"As reported in TVNZ's FY2018 Annual Report, the CEO's base salary didn't increase last year. The primary driver of his increased remuneration was performance-based."

Asked what performance goals had been achieved by Kenrick, the spokeswoman said, "We won't be going into specifics around targets."

Fewer earning more than $100K

The report also reveals that TVNZ has a total of 212 staff earning more than $100,000, down from 219 last year.

38 staff earned more than $200,000, compared to 40 last year.

As TVNZ released its annual result, Kenrick told the Herald that its focus was on operational profit which was a better reflection of the cash delivery of the business.

TVNZ's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and fair value
adjustments rose 58.6 per cent to $24.6m and was largely stable after adjusting for a one-off impact last year for an onerous contract position.

"We don't expect to repeat this level of profit growth in future years, but it has created a one-off opportunity for us to thank our people for their contribution and commitment to TVNZ's success," Kenrick said as the $1000 bonuses were handed out.

Kenrick said the broadcaster had stable revenue for the first time in six years and the highest share of TV advertising revenue since 2010.

He said there had been ongoing cost control across the business after it went through a big restructure last year (which included newsroom cuts).

The key now was to leverage its strong financial position and greater confidence to accelerate its online streaming business.

Its On Demand service hit a milestone of 100 million streams for 2018, a big increase over the 6.2 million reported for 2016.

In the year ahead, TVNZ could begin charging for online content, Kenrick says.

The state broadcaster is also Spark's free-to-air partner for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and could receive windfall viewers if predicted technical problems mean the telco has to transfer games to TVNZ.

Kenrick's $1.43m remuneration puts him at the top end for state-owned enterprise bosses, but behind the $1.76m average for CEOs of New Zealand's top private companies (see the Herald's full chief executive salary survey here).