New Zealand: Media pluralism in doubt with planned closure of information services

New Zealand: Media pluralism in doubt with planned closure of information services

Last week saw turmoil in New Zealand in the audiovisual sector, with the announcement of the end of several information services.

An eventful week in New ZealandWith the closure of TV3, the third terrestrial channel in the country. After more than 35 years on the air, the Newshub editorial team, as it is called here, and all of the channel's journalistic platforms, are withdrawing from the New Zealand audiovisual scene. This comes just three years after it was purchased by the American group Warners Bros-Discovery.

To pay off the channel's debts, the American entertainment giant was already forced to lay off a large number of employees, but it was announced last week that the entire editorial office would be closed next June.

More than 300 employees were affected

More than 300 journalists, photographers and editors are affected by this decision. But this closure is mainly due to the financial losses incurred by TV3, with the collapse of TV advertising revenues, but also due to the changing habits of viewers who are turning more to online platforms. The group was losing tens of millions of dollars annually.

But beyond the numbers, this loss also means the disappearance of New Zealand's only private news service. This is a decision that, according to the new government’s policies, is “ A disaster for democracy “.

This decision could affect the journalism sector in New Zealand, as these staff cuts are not new. During the last census in 2018, nearly 2,000 people declared their profession as “journalist,” a decrease of 50% compared to the 2000 census.

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A loss that would damage the public life of this small country with a population of 5 million, because just a few days ago, it was the turn of TVNZ, the first New Zealand channel – which was public – to announce a restructuring with the dismissal of 68 people. Also the most affected sector is the information sector, with magazines such as “Sunday”, which in France can be compared to the program “Sept à quatre” on TF1, as well as other radio programmes, being discontinued.

Consequently, audiovisual journalism in New Zealand will be severely affected, with New Zealanders in total losing more than 20 hours of information through their small screen. A situation that also poses the problem of pluralism, because from now on, the only English-language channel that will provide news will be the state-owned TVNZ.

Finally, the disappearance of Newshub, which still had a healthy audience every evening, further reveals the long-standing challenge facing news: How do we make journalism profitable?

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