TVNZ is planning to cut around 100 jobs in the coming weeks in an effort to save $10 million dollars, the Herald understands.

Chief executive Kevin Kenrick has been holding weekly Friday Zoom meetings open to all staff and has communicated the message that redundancies are inevitable as of last week.

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Amid TVNZ's Covid-19 cost cutting measures, Kenrick today also sent an email to staff announcing they would begin the recruitment process for a new head of news following the resignation of John Gillespie in February.

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Some staff within the state-broadcaster had speculated the company would not immediately appoint a new person in the role of head of news and current affairs which commands a substantial six-figure salary.

"We have now re-engaged Kerridge & Partners to restart the recruitment process for John's replacement," Kenrick wrote today.

"In the meantime, I'm pleased to announce that Graeme Muir has agreed to step into the role of acting HONCA from June 29 until a permanent appointment is made."

TVNZ GM of corporate communications Rachel Howard said the company had nothing to announce in terms of restructuring plans.

"TVNZ has no announcements to make other than to indicate that its cost reduction initiatives will continue to focus on preserving investment in news and local content and maintaining jobs where possible," Howard said.

TVNZ CEO Kevin Kenrick has been frank with staff about his desire to
TVNZ CEO Kevin Kenrick has been frank with staff about his desire to "preserve cash" in the Covid-19 advertising slump. Photo / Supplied

Sources have told the Herald that TVNZ is looking to cut around 100 roles to find $10m in savings.

The Covid-19 economic slump has led to a massive downturn in advertising revenue for all New Zealand media outlets.

It is understood the round of redundancies foreshadowed in Kenrick's weekly online staff meetings is unlikely to directly impact the broadcaster's news department.

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Instead, the 100 job losses will come from the programming, content and sales departments.

Kenrick detailed in his email to staff today that Gillespie's last day in his role will be June 26.

"When Covid-19 hit and we prepared to go into lockdown, John generously agreed to stay on longer and provide certainty of leadership through a very uncertain time," Kenrick wrote.

"With the nation reaching alert level 1 earlier than expected, and with our operations almost back to normal, John and I have agreed that he will now revert to his originally planned end of June leaving date."

TVNZ's Head of News, John Gillespie, will depart at the end of June
TVNZ's Head of News, John Gillespie, will depart at the end of June

The TVNZ redundancy news comes on an already bad day for New Zealand broadcasting after MediaWorks slumped to a $25.14m loss casting "significant doubt" on the company's ability to continue.

Financial statements for the year to December 2019 report MediaWorks' total liabilities more than doubled during the year to $296.34m ($138m in 2018) with borrowings of $133.1m at balance date.

MediaWorks, which owns television and radio assets, including TV station Three and radio brands The Edge and The Rock, says since year end, negotiations are under way with parties who have expressed an interest in buying the business.

On April 4, TVNZ's Kenrick informed staff of the company's strategy to "preserve cash" and their fresh eligibility for the Government's wage subsidy.

The chief executive outlined the "three strategic priorities for the foreseeable future" as the state broadcaster faces economic "confronting realities".

They ran: "1. Deliver essential news, 2. Entertain New Zealand audiences, and 3. Preserve cash."

In April NZME, which owns the NZ Herald, announced 200 job losses and requested all staff on a salary of more than $50,000 per year take a 15 per cent pay cut for 12 weeks.