TVNZ bosses aren't ruling out looking at buying a stake in Stuff or merging with Radio NZ.
But neither TVNZ board chairwoman Dame Therese Walsh nor TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick talked up either possibility when they appeared before Parliament's Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee today.
Australian television network Nine Entertainment and newspaper publisher Fairfax Media announced plans to merge in November last year, and Nine chief executive Hugh Marks has since confirmed that a formal sale process for Stuff would begin in the next few months.
Stuff assets include the stuff.co.nz website, digital platform Neighbourly, and a number of newspapers including The Dominion Post, The Press, and the Sunday Star-Times.
The company, which employs approximately 1000 staff, has been grappling with the declining trajectory of print advertising, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation shrinking 27 per cent to $40.5m in the year ended June 2018.
An independent report by Grant Samuel valued Stuff at $115m-$135m.
TVNZ delivered a net profit of $5.1m in the year to June 2018, up $3.7m on the previous year.
At the committee hearing, National MP Melissa Lee asked TVNZ bosses if they were interested in buying any of Stuff's assets.
Kenrick said the market was dynamic, and TVNZ had a keen interest on seeing what will happen.
"What you have to do is make sure you preserve and maintain options. We have ongoing partnerships with multiple different players," Kenrick said.
"So we don't rule anything in. We don't rule anything out."
He said it was more important for TVNZ to concentrate on its own performance, which could "put us in a favourable position if and when an opportunity makes sense for us".
Stuff and TVNZ already have a partnership since 2016 to share One News video clips on Stuff, with Fairfax and TVNZ sharing the advertising revenue from video content.
Asked about the possibility of a future merger of TVNZ and Radio NZ, Kenrick said he would not rule that out either.
"It's like anything in this market. It's so dynamic. It's changing so quickly. You wouldn't rule things out."
Walsh said the board kept a "really open mind on all of those things", including with public or private media.
Walsh said the financial year to June 2018 was the first time in five years that revenue didn't go down.
Kenrick said part of TVNZ's recent success was due to investing in quality local content, including news.
Walsh named Wellington Paranormal, programmes with a Māori theme and Anika Moa Unleashed as shows that had done particularly well.
The success gave TVNZ the headroom to invest in digital platforms future, she said.
"2018 has been great, but it sets us up to invest in the future, to continue to create local content."