The BulletinApril 17, 2024

Melissa Lee ‘really, really happy’ about deal to keep the news on Three


Stuff will provide a news service for Warner Brothers Discovery on Three. As the industry awaits much-anticipated work to address sector-wide issues, the responsible minister says she’s very happy about the deal.

News to continue but job losses likely to be significant

News will continue at 6pm on Three after a deal was reached between Stuff and Three’s owners, Warner Brothers Discovery. Stuff will run one-hour bulletins on weekdays and a half-hour bulletin on weekends. If you happen to have exactly 14 questions (!) about this, Duncan Greive has most of the answers this morning. As Greive notes, the deal is unlikely to save many jobs, but the continuation of a news service on Three has been welcomed. Stuff’s owner, Sinead Boucher, and Warner Brothers Discovery’s (WBD) Glen Kyne confirmed at a press conference yesterday that the number of jobs created by the new deal will be “less than 40”. While Stuff has reported that it will “leave the Newshub name and brand behind”, that was contradicted to an extent by Kyne. “It’s not out of the question,” Kyne told The Spinoff, pointing to legal machinations behind the scenes.

What will the new news look like?

As Boucher said yesterday, the Stuff-produced news will not be a traditional news hour. “We’re not going into linear television. We’re not even going into broadcasting – that’s for Warner Bros Discovery – we are producing the news,”  she said. Greive suggests it’s unlikely to have a significant impact on the number of fresh stories created. Former head of news at Three and Newsroom founder Mark Jennings agrees that what audiences see will be very different to the current 6pm news bulletin, telling Newshub that if Stuff were going to do a full-on TV news bulletin, they’d be hiring most of Newshub’s staff. “Clearly they’re not going to do that – so we’re going to see a very ‘news-lite’ product,” he said. Jennings writes this morning that the deal is another step in the stuttering rationalisation of New Zealand’s news media.

Preparation of government response to sector-wide issues still ongoing

Minister for media and communications Melissa Lee told Newshub’s Zane Small that she was “really, really happy” to hear about the deal between the two media companies.  Lee once again indicated that work on dealing with ongoing issues that affect all media in New Zealand was underway, including possible amendments to the 1989 Broadcasting Act with Lee saying, “There are regulations in there where certain segments of the broadcasting system are not regulated while local New Zealand broadcasters are regulated.” Small indicates this may suggest regulation for online streaming platforms could be on the cards. The Post’s Tom Pullar-Strecker reported yesterday that the government has been considering offering Warner Bros Discovery and other broadcasters a break on television transmission fees that would normally be paid to state-owned enterprise Kordia on the condition that they continued to offer television news bulletins, He notes that provides an incentive worth about $5.2m a year for WBD to retain news bulletins in some form on Three.

The political pull power and dominance of social media

Prime minister Christopher Luxon, currently in Thailand, welcomed the news, saying, “To see a commercial solution like that, it’s fantastic.” While in Singapore, Luxon ate mildly spicey noodles with social media influencer Aiken Chia. Last night, Newshub’s Jenna Lynch reported that National has seven staffers working on social media. Lynch highlights that’s more people than most media outlets have in their political reporting teams. Former prime minister Dame Jacinda Ardern was a prolific user of Instagram and Facebook Live as PM, while Luxon is better known for his use of TikTok. While the US might be threatening to ban TikTok amid concerns about foreign interference and misinformation, the appeal of fishing where the fish are, without the disintermediation of mainstream media, grows larger by the day. It’s estimated that 1.4m New Zealanders use TikTok. As Matt Dagher-Margosian outlines in The Diplomat, banning TikTok in the US probably won’t do much to curb the avalanche of misinformation on social media because it’s everywhere, including on platforms owned by Americans. For a recent example of just how munted Facebook is, read Ryan Broderick’s latest about the bizarre trend currently going gangbusters featuring AI-generated images of flight attendants posing with AI-generated images of Jesus.

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