Wellington, March 14 NZPA - TVNZ bosses are travelling to Wellington this week to explain to staff ongoing cost reduction plans as well as possible radical change affecting all state-owned media organisations.
The Dominion Post reported on Saturday that TVNZ could be restructured to provide separate commercial and public service broadcasting roles.
Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman has asked TVNZ chairman Sir John Anderson to look at splitting its broadcasting roles "demarcarting" its commercial and public broadcasting function and how it would be possible to fund public broacasting.
Dr Coleman said yesterday decisions would be made later in the year on the future direction of public broadcasting, but he preferred to see TVNZ 7, and possibly TVNZ 6, turned into specialist public service-style channels.
Such a transformation would give viewers a clear choice of either tuning into the "nakedly commercial stuff", or broadcasting aimed at providing quality content, he said.
The Culture and Heritage Ministry and Treasury's Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit have been asked to consult with TVNZ over the proposal.
Dr Coleman said while no more money would be made available to fund state broadcasting, it was hoped profits could be lifted and, ideally, money could be channelled to the public service broadcasting arm.
The Government is scrapping TVNZ's charter which attempted to lay out its public service obligations and Dr Coleman wants to make decisions on public broadcasting in the near future.
He also said it could be worth exploring the use of shared news gathering resources between Radio New Zealand, TVNZ 7's news programme and possibly Maori TV.
TVNZ bosses are talking to staff about how they can lift profit by $30 million to $40 million a year after it recently reported its after-tax profit for the six months to December had more than halved, while predicting a loss for the full year.
Besides the usual job losses there has been speculation that TVNZ could cut its flagship six o'clock news to half an hour.
The state-owned enterprise reported its after-tax profit for the half year to December 31 was $8.9 million, compared to $18.3m for the six months to December 2008 and $21.6m for the same period to December 2007.
Advertising revenues fell by 12.7 percent to $22.2m for the six months to December 31, with total operating revenue down 16.6 percent to $186.9m.
Its earnings before interest and tax were down to $14.2m, compared with $27.7m for the first six months of the previous year.
Radio New Zealand is also facing ongoing pressure to gets its costs down after being told by the Government it can not expect any extra funding for at least three years.