MediaWorks boss Michael Anderson has shut down claims that the TV business will be closed by December if a buyer isn't found.

The cash-strapped company today revealed plans to sell its TV business and its headquarters in Auckland's Eden Terrace. The Flower St building houses its television head office and studios.

Anderson told the Herald he was aware of such claims being made by sources, but that they simply weren't true.

"I can categorically say that that's not the case," he said.

Advertisement

"There's absolutely no decision to shut down the business."

READ MORE:
Cash-strapped MediaWorks to sell off TV business, building
MediaWorks sells off TV network: Slim pickings for new owner warns media expert Alex Lawson
MediaWorks employees' plead on social media for someone to buy company
The MediaWorks sale: what will happen to The Block, MAFS, Mark Richardson and Patrick Gower?

There has been speculation that the decision to put the business up for sale is something of a bluff designed to convince the Government to change the regulations governing TVNZ.

Anderson didn't hold back in shutting down these remarks.

"I actually feel quite angry about such statements," Anderson said.

"We would never put our staff in a position where we were just bluffing and putting them through the uncertainty they're currently going through.

"There's no bluff to this. This is a legitimate process, arrived at for all the right reasons with hopefully the best outcomes."

Anderson rejected any suggestion that the business could close by Christmas, saying the process of the sale may extend well beyond that time, as the company meets with potential suitors and runs through due diligence.

Advertisement

The MediaWorks TV arm has been put onto the market on the back of a Stuff's failure to find a suitor. Asked how much patience the board has, Anderson said he hasn't been given a deadline.

"The board put no timeframe on this, otherwise than what would be reasonable. We want to get the best possible outcome out of this and that's why there isn't a deadline as such."

Anderson would not be drawn into putting a target price on the business, saying that the market would ultimately determine the value.

The MediaWorks building in Flower St, Auckland, is up for sale.
The MediaWorks building in Flower St, Auckland, is up for sale.

MediaWorks, which is owned by US hedge fund Oaktree Capital, will continue to operate its radio and billboard advertising businesses.

The company posted a $5.5 million loss for the 2018 year.

Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi did not want to comment today as MediaWorks was a private company which made its own decisions on its commercial operations.

Faafoi does not want to interfere with process by commenting, a spokesman said.

The Government is currently in the process of working through its options when it comes to strengthening public media. Some options could include making state broadcaster TVNZ advert-free.

Faafoi has said that piece of work would be unveiled before the end of the year.

Today, Faafoi's spokesman confirmed the timing on this project had not changed, despite MediaWorks' announcement this morning.

Meanwhile Anderson was grilled by staff members during a tense meeting this morning, RNZ reported.

One employee told said "everyone is in a state of shock".

"It's clear they [MediaWorks] see zero value in the TV side of the business," the staffer told RNZ.

"It feels like the company is still in a state of flux.

"This whole situation is going to see us lose some key talent."

MediaWorks chairman Jack Matthews said today that the company was committed to growing its business in New Zealand "while recognising that free-to-air television operates in a challenging environment".

"We are in a commercial environment and have to face commercial realities," he said.

"The market that free-to-air television operates in is tough and has been exacerbated this year. This is reflected in the performance of all free-to-air television operators in New Zealand, not just us."

MediaWorks planned to sell its Flower St building, with a possible leaseback option "for a buyer to continue to operate television from that location".

The company has now hired an adviser to "identify a list of potential purchasers and commence initial discussions".