Weldon should resign: Edwards

PLUS: TVNZ insider tips that Hilary Barry will front a single-presenter 6pm news.

MediaWorks TV3 chief executive Mark Weldon should resign, media commentator Brian Edwards says.

The veteran broadcaster's comments follow the shock departure of popular news presenter Hilary Barry.

This morning speculation emerged that Ms Barry will join TVNZ's Breakfast show.

But one well-placed TVNZ insider has speculated to NBR that – after sitting out a six-month non-compete agreement – Ms Barry will front a revamped, single-presenter 6pm news.

The insider said the broadcaster "won't mess with Breakfast this late in the year."

"I've been a huge fan of Hilary for years," Dr Edwards tells NBR.

"The media plaudits she's received since the announcement of her departure from TV3 if anything understate both her ability and the affection in which she is held by the viewing public and her broadcasting peers," he says.

"She combines the authority that is a sine qua non for a television newsreader with warmth and humour. She may be the only TV broadcaster in this country and beyond whose inability to suppress a giggle, to 'corpse', is a viewing delight. Not 'the mother of the nation' perhaps but a much-loved big sister.

"This is TV3's loss and TVNZ's gain and it is major on both counts. Mark Weldon should be penning his resignation to the board."

To cap things off, Mr Weldon misspelt Ms Barry's name in an email to staff that otherwise paid tribute to the broadcaster and said MediaWorks was disappointed to lose her.

In an NBR profile, one MediaWorks insider described Mr Weldon as "ruthless." Communication was said to be appalling, the cull of staff destabilising and the direction of the broadcaster "tabloid" (following publication of the piece, gossip site Scout was launched under the MediaWorks umbrella and investigative news programme 3D axed).

Although the MediaWorks chief executive is unlikely to heed Dr Edwards' call, Mr Weldon has already had his wings clipped.

On April 26, Oaktree Capital – the US hedge fund that took full control of MediaWorks last year – imposed restrictions on spending or liabilities the media company's executives can incur without recourse to the board.

The new MediaWorks constitution sets a $2 million annual limit on any new investment, liabilities, or litigation by Mr Weldon without prior approval by the board, which since April has included Oaktree representative Jonas Mitzschke.

Mr Weldon was travelling at the time of Ms Barry's surprise announcement.

He is due back in the office for what is billed as a major announcement about the company's future on Tuesday.

Yesterday, former TVNZ head of news and current affairs Bill Ralston told NBR that Ms Barry was "cut-up" over the departure of John Campbell. She had seen friends sacked. "I think she had just had enough," he said.

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