TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick says a possible merger with Radio NZ into a new public broadcaster wouldn't necessarily mean job losses - and could even mean the opposite.

Kenrick appeared before the Economic Development, Science and Innovation select committee at Parliament this morning, where MPs quizzed him about a potential merger.

The Government has hired PwC to do a business case for a new public broadcasting entity, which could see the state broadcaster and Radio NZ merge.

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Speaking to reporters after the committee hearing, Kenrick said that a merger wouldn't be the same as a merger of two commercial entities, which normally leads to job losses.

"Purely in a commercial world, you would typically see how you would identify and remove duplication.

"There's an acknowledgement at the heart of this that journalism is at risk, so how do we not only preserve but enhance journalism in New Zealand? To me, the objectives, the purpose is actually quite the opposite."

But he appeared to be at odds with Radio NZ chief executive Paul Thompson, who had earlier appeared before the same committee this morning, over whether a new public broadcaster should gather advertising revenue.

Thompson said a public broadcaster with ads would "create challenges".

"I don't think it's insurmountable but you'd need to be very careful about how you managed it," he told reporters after his appearance before the committee.

"That's what the business case will explore. At its heart though, it needs to have a public media objective, not commercial objectives."

He added that a public broadcaster competing with commercial media companies for advertising revenue could put those companies at risk.


MediaWorks, the company that owns Newshub, announced last year that it intended to sell its TV business, citing the competition with TVNZ for advertising revenue as a factor.

Ads bring in about $300m a year to TVNZ, and Kenrick seemed lukewarm on the idea of using taxpayer money for programming that was commercially viable.

"I think crowding out commercial revenue and replacing that with taxpayer funding doesn't feel like it's the most efficient way to go about it," he said.

"That's what the business case is going to tease out."

He and Thompson both said that it wasn't up to them, but for the Government to decide.

Thompson said a new public broadcaster, if it happens, should have a completely new culture, but also a "rich vein of Māori culture right at the heart".

"Whatever is created with public broadcasting funding, the content needs to be shared with all of the media and we need to be able to support other media to make sure we still have a range of media and a range of media outlets.

"Commercial media are all under incredible strain and there's a real risk we'll actually have a lack of news and current affairs."

Kenrick said a public broadcaster is hardly going to be "massive" and crowd out global commercial players.

"Massive is the global players that have got US billions of dollars. You could aggregate 100 per cent of all local media in New Zealand and it would be a slightly taller David against the world's Goliath."