TVNZ plans to axe Sunday, Fair Go

Fair Go on air staff, from left: Kaitlin Ruddock, Gill Higgins, Hadyn Jones, (who has since left)...
Fair Go on air staff, from left: Kaitlin Ruddock, Gill Higgins, Hadyn Jones, (who has since left) Pippa Wetzell, Garth Bray and Alistar Kata. Photo: TVNZ
TVNZ staff are in tears as they hear plans to axe Sunday, Fair Go and two of the state broadcaster’s daily news bulletins - part of a massive cost-cutting plan in its news and current affairs division.

There are reports the Midday and Tonight weekday bulletins are being dumped as part of the widespread cuts, as TVNZ battles a big drop in traditional TV advertising revenue and audiences’ fast-moving shift to digital platforms.

Up to 68 jobs, including about 35 in news and current affairs, are being axed.

Following the conclusion of a meeting with Sunday staff on Friday morning, TVNZ confirmed “a proposal has been presented which could result in the cancellation of Sunday”.

“As other meetings are ongoing, I cannot comment further at this stage,” said a spokeswoman.

It is understood about 20 jobs will go when Sunday finishes on May 12. More than half a dozen roles at Fair Go will also go.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark said the cuts were “disgraceful”.

A TVNZ spokeswoman said Clark was entitled to her opinion. “TVNZ’s cost base is higher than our revenue... We’ve exhausted all opportunities to reduce costs without impacting what we deliver for viewers.

"We have already reduced TVNZ’s Executive team by a third and general management by a similar proportion. We’ve reduced our entertainment content and marketing budgets and removed discretionary spend.”

TVNZ workers have been summoned to an all-staff meeting at 1pm today to hear the entire news and current affairs plan.

Before that, meetings are under way with individual staff who are affected. These meetings started with the Sunday team at 9am.

Staff at the state broadcaster were in tears as meetings started this morning, sources said.

One senior TVNZ journalist told the Herald that newsroom staff were eyeing the salary of chief executive Jodi O’Donnell: “That’s 10 executive producer salaries right there.”

O’Donnell has only just started in the role and her salary has not been released publicly; previous CEO Simon Power earned $1m in the year he was at the helm.

Fair Go is one of New Zealand TV’s longest-running series - the consumer series began in 1977, devised and hosted by Brian Edwards. Over 47 years, its line-up of hosts is a who’s who of famous broadcasters including Edwards, Philip Alpers, Kerre Woodham, Carol Hirschfeld, Gordon Harcourt, and longest serving host, Kevin Milne.