Taxis and booze cut as TVNZ wields axe

BY CLIO FRANCIS
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2009

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Details of Television New Zealand's cost-cutting have been revealed in a memo spelling out measures the company expects will slash its spending by $25 million.

All up, 18 editorial staff will be axed from news and current affairs, including several senior journalists and producers.

The memo, to staff from news and current affairs boss Anthony Flannery, outlines other cost-saving proposals, most of them standard practice in other media companies.

Staff taking Corporate Cabs must, in future, get receipts and TVNZ must be reimbursed for non-work-related trips. Story-related mobile phone bills will be limited to $105 a month (including $25 for call-plan costs). Koru Club memberships will be "reviewed". Magazine subscriptions will be cancelled or centralised in the news library.

Journalists wanting to entertain people must in future get permission first. Friday night staff drinks will be cut to once a month and non-story-related travel must be approved by Mr Flannery. Allowances, including those for clothing and grooming, will be audited.

"I am determined that the savings we are proposing will not seriously affect our news-gathering abilities," Mr Flannery says in the confidential document, obtained by The Dominion Post.

The news and current affairs executive management team has accepted a voluntary wage freeze. Mr Flannery said TVNZ's revenue and profit projections for the 2009 financial year had deteriorated rapidly since January. "The decline is now accelerating. We now face the reality that our revenues will be approximately 10 per cent (at current forecasts) off our budgeted business plan. This represents an annualised shortfall of up to $30 million."

TVNZ had no choice but to reduce budgets by $25 million to avoid a financial loss, he said.

The Christchurch bureau looks set for a shake-up as seven news and current affairs staff have their jobs "disestablished".

Those to be axed include the health correspondent position (at present held by reporter Lorelei Mason) and business reporter (currently Owen Poland). The company wants to build "a flexible reporting team, comprising 4.6 reporters, all working as general reporters across a seven-day roster, including a late shift".

The One News bulletin at 4.30pm, currently fronted by veteran journalist Neil Waka, will lose a presenter and a producer, replacing them with a single reporter/producer job.

The NZI business programme will replace three producer/reporter jobs with a single Auckland senior producer/reporter.

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Early morning show Breakfast will axe four producing/reporting jobs but establish three new positions, including a senior producer.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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