RNZ reducing headcount, investing $10m in capex

Net loss of 14 staff.

See also: Comedian to take over RNZ show

Radio New Zealand says it will disestablish 20 jobs and create six new ones in the next six months, resulting in a net loss of 14 staff.

Spokesman John Barr says the news team will not be affected and the staff reductions will mainly occur in features, Concert FM and drama departments.

Just last week, however, afternoon host Simon Mercep left the broadcaster.

RNZ employs 281 fulltime staff.

It will shift the focus of its operations from Wellington to Auckland. Mr Barr says the Wellington office will probably be reduced from three to two floors.

The restructure was centred on focusing on RNZ’s digital platforms and was led by head of content Carol Hirschfeld, who joined the organisation in September last year.

Mr Barr hinted that there could be further staff reductions in future months, saying operating costs will have to be constantly monitored if there is no increase to funding.

The broadcaster hasn’t had an increase to its $35 million government funding for seven years. Mr Barr says the broadcaster will spend $10 million on capital expenditure over the next 10 years, mainly on upgrading its equipment.

In a recent interview with NBR, chief executive Paul Thompson explained how the organisation is “spreading its wings” with investment in video and youth-targeted platforms but a lack of further funding is putting on the pressure.

RNZ is exploring commercial opportunities, Mr Barr says, but it is restricted by its “commercial-free” mandate. Its expansion on to external platforms such as iHeartRadio and MSN could provide extra income but he says they are so small “it’s not even worth mentioning.”

Mr Barr provided some stats about RNZ’s website traffic:

This year users on radionz.co.nz are up 75% on the same period last year (this is as at June 16), with 3.31 million users.

May was the biggest month yet on radionz.co.nz, with more than 900,000 users – a 110% increase on the same period last year.

The Wireless (RNZ’s youth website) has had 1.57 million users to date in 2015, compared with 105,563 over the same period last year – a 1395% increase.

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