MediaWorks' decision to sell off its TV arm has claimed its first executive casualty with news boss Hal Crawford quitting.

Today's announcement that Crawford will leave in February comes off the back of last week's announcement that the company had put its TV arm on the market.

Two of MediaWorks' biggest stars - comic duo Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce - defected to NZME's Radio Hauraki yesterday.

Crawford is on the MediaWorks executive team and runs the Newshub division, which is part of the television division and will go to new owners if a buyer is found.

Advertisement

READ MORE:
Jono and Ben to join NZME's Radio Hauraki
Three's top TV talent could jump ship
Anatomy of a MediaWorks disaster

MediaWorks head of news Hal Crawford. Photo / File
MediaWorks head of news Hal Crawford. Photo / File

The departure was announced to MediaWorks staff today.

"This newsroom is very dear to me and very dear to New Zealand," Crawford said.

"It's a special place and very hard to walk away from. I have felt supported by a very fine group of people from the moment I walked in in 2016, and together we have achieved a lot and told some very important stories."

Crawford will be returning to Australia with his family.

He first joined MediaWorks as the head of news in 2016, following the departure of Mark Jennings.

A digital specialist, Crawford joined Newshub from NineMSN in Australia, where he worked as the editor-in-chief and publisher.

He was appointed by controversial former MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon and given a broad remit to improve the company's online news offering.

Advertisement

In recent months, Crawford has been highly critical of the structure of New Zealand media.

In a blistering op-ed published across various news websites, Crawford stressed how difficult it was for a commercial television company to compete with TVNZ.

"They can do whatever they like to not make a buck. They will never fold, because they are 100 per cent state-owned," Crawford wrote.

"Being one of their competitors, I'm angry about this. I'm angry that the market for television advertising in New Zealand is distorted by this bizarre, anti-competitive set up."

MediaWorks CEO Michael Anderson said Crawford's decision to leave had been "really hard".

"I am incredibly sorry to see him go and wish him all the very best."

MediaWorks is now on the hunt for a replacement.