‘The impact is substantial’: Media buyers react to NZ-based Newshub’s closure

The industry has this week reacted to the unfortunate news from one of New Zealand’s largest media companies, Newshub.

On Wednesday, Newshub’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, emailed all staff regarding “significant changes to the business that may impact your role” – shocking plans to close its newsroom, including its online news platform.

The proposed closure, which would take place on June 30, was attributed to a collapse in TV advertising revenue and changes in viewing habits.

Newshub Live at 6pm presenters Samantha Hayes and Mike McRoberts

Glen Kyne, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ, said: “I’ve been very proud to be part of this organisation and part of the newsroom. Nothing prouder actually… this is the most difficult day.”

While the industry has had a few days to take in the announcement, many are now taking to social media to share their thoughts – namely shock, disappointment and sadness for the iconic company.

Mumbrella asked three leading NZ-based media agency heads what the news means for the country’s media landscape.

Elaine Gibbons, managing partner at independent NZ-based media agency Sneakers Media, told Mumbrella: “It’s a day tinged with sadness for New Zealand’s media landscape, and our hearts go out to the hundreds of people impacted at Warner Bros. Discovery NZ.

“Newshub offers Kiwis a fresh, relatable news and current affairs voice broadcast into the homes of Kiwis every day, and with its departure, leaves a notable void in households all across New Zealand.

“Newshub embodied the spirit of everyday Kiwis, positioning itself as the agile and relatable challenger in the media arena. Their exit leaves a significant gap, marking the end of an era and leaving behind a legacy that will be missed.”

According to Alex Radford, co-founder and partner at media agency D3 Media, the news marks a significant moment for New Zealand’s media landscape as a whole.

“It not only affects the dedicated Newshub team but also prompts a rethink in how businesses, agencies, and media partners collaborate in our digital age,” he explained.

“The impact on those behind the scenes – journalists, presenters, and production staff – is substantial. It’s crucial as a community that we support those affected, recognising the vital role of journalism and local content in shaping well-informed societies.”

He stressed the importance for the country’s media industry to “commit to building closer ties with our media partners, ensuring our engagement stays relevant and impactful”.

The changes by Warner Bros. Discovery act as a call to action for the entire media industry, according to Radford.

“Let’s innovate, collaborate, and uphold the foundation of our work,” he said.

Mediahub NZ’s general manager in Auckland, Hugo Winter, seconded Radford’s points, and told Mumbrella the closure paves the way for a broader issue – the diversity in New Zealand’s media landscape.

He said there is now an uncertain future faced by locally produced news and largely advertising-funded content. With Newshub’s shut down, which could see almost 300 staff lose their jobs, New Zealand could be left with a “near-monopoly on TV news” via state-owned TVNZ.

“A public service broadcasting or mixed ad revenue model is possible but expensive, and more resilient models of funding, such as The New Zealand Herald’s premium subscription is an alternative,” he said.

“These are extraordinary times, while most people see the effect of inflation, high employment numbers, and what appears to be an overheated economy, it hides what might be described as a quiet collapse of many industries.

“Let’s hope this is not a sign of things to come for our all-important fourth estate.”

Newshub management has said there will be an opportunity for feedback on the proposal, but many staff said don’t believe that will change anything.

“It’s got the potential to change things, [but] I fully expect that position of course,” Kyne said.


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