NZME has ceased broadcasting Radio Sport and is restructuring its print and digital sport platforms, with potential redundancies as the fallout from the Covid-19 outbreak takes its toll on the media company's revenue.
"With the cancellation and suspension of virtually all local, national and international sports events and competitions, we have been forced to look closely at the level of sports coverage, including live events, across all our platforms," chief executive Michael Boggs said in an internal email to staff.
"The impact of the cancellation and suspension of events, along with the overall impact of Covid-19 on NZME revenue, has been significant."
He said NZME needed to make difficult decisions now to help ensure a re-shaped business remains able to connect sports fans with their codes and sports stars when competitions and events resume - whenever that may be.
"We have made the incredibly difficult decision to stop broadcasting Radio Sport from 1pm today. Radio Sport frequencies will now carry Newstalk ZB programming indefinitely."
Radio Sport began as Sports Roundup, a Radio New Zealand programme during the 1980s and early 1990s that provided live commentary of summer sports like cricket.
Sports Roundup was replaced with dedicated Radio Sport network following privatisation in 1996.
Boggs paid tribute to the professionalism displayed by the Radio Sport team over the past couple of weeks in difficult circumstances.
"Despite almost every sporting code ceasing their competitions, the team has continued to deliver great content from increasingly limited sources for their audiences.
Boggs said the effect of Covid-19 on editorial sports coverage across NZME's print and digital platforms has been immediate and significant.
"Alongside the Radio Sport team, we are talking to our sport editorial staff in Auckland and across our regions about a proposed restructure. We will continue to cover sports stories both Covid-19 related and other sport news stories and issues not connected with Covid-19, but today we are presenting a proposed new structure that reflects the short and medium-term economic reality."
No details were immediately available about the shape of that restructure.
NZME has been in talks with the government about buying rival media company Stuff, an idea based on trying to rectify the terminal decline in advertising revenue in recent years. The Covid-19 outbreak will have further impacted on advertising revenue across both NZME and Stuff as well as other media companies.
In a market update last week NZME said it was seeing an impact on trading revenue due to the economic uncertainty resulting from the pandemic.
"The extent to which NZME's financial performance will be impacted is impossible to predict at this time given the increasing business disruption in the New Zealand economy and the overall uncertainty regarding the potential duration of the pandemic," the company told the NZX.
NZME said it was implementing a number of initiatives to reduce costs and capital expenditure across the business.
The shares last traded at 20c, down 4.7 per cent.