MediaWorks

Paul Henry’s New Zealand television career may not be over just yet with word the outspoken presenter is entertaining the idea of offers from TVNZ and MediaWorks.

The two broadcasters are said to be interested in Henry despite his plans to launch a US TV career.

Sources at TVNZ have told the Herald that the broadcaster is keen to have Henry back on its books despite letting him go without a fight last year.

However, whether or not TVNZ will actually follow through and offer Henry something is another matter after the stir he caused both nationally and internationally on Breakfast in 2010.

Meanwhile, MediaWorks could offer Henry an attractive option in both TV and radio should they follow through.

Henry told the Herald that he will be making his decision soon.

Source: Herald

Steven Joyce has clarified the situation regarding MediaWorks and the $43.3 million debt is has to the Government.

MediaWorks records showed the company owes the Government $43.3m for the renewal of its radio broadcasting licences but Joyce says no payment had been made to the company.

The Telecommunications Minister said the debt was owed under a 2009 scheme that allowed broadcasters to defer licence payments.

“The reality is that under the scheme they have a debt to the Crown because they haven’t paid in full for their frequencies,” Mr Joyce told NZPA. 

“They have to present it as a debt because it is a debt they owe the Crown, so how they do that is between them and their accountants. 

“All I can tell you is that the Crown has not advanced any cash to MediaWorks at all, that the Crown has offered a deferred payment option to all of the frequency holders who were due to renew at that time, which involved them paying interest and getting in their payments over five years.” 

Source: 3 News

MediaWorks has signed a joint venture agreement with Cudo Australia, Microsoft and Nine Entertainment Co. to launch the collaborative buying website “Cudo” in New Zealand.

Modelled on the enormously successful Australian version, cudo.co.nz will offer New Zealanders a daily opportunity to buy a specific product or service at an enormously discounted price – up to 80 per cent less than the recommended retail price.

MediaWorks, as New Zealand’s leading privately owned broadcast and on-line media company, will harness its significant media assets across radio, TV and online to promote the daily offer.

Carly Flynn, former TV3 presenter, and currently breakfast news reader on radio station The Breeze will front the daily deal showcases, featuring that day’s offer.

“This is an important development for MediaWorks’ ecommerce strategy,” said MediaWorks Director Interactive, Siobhan McKenna.

“Cudo Australia has been a very successful model, and we look forward to enabling New Zealand businesses and consumers to take advantage of this very smart ecommerce business model,” she said.

“With the power of TV3 and FOUR, plus our radio brands including The Edge, More FM, The Breeze, The Rock, RadioLIVE and Solid Gold along with our online offering, combined with the strength of ACP  Media, we believe the potential of this initiative to be significant.  Ecommerce ventures work best when large numbers of consumers are driven to the trading environment.  Our media strength allows this to occur, and the Cudo business model provides an ideal template to model this initiative on,” she said.

“However, the biggest winner in all this is New Zealand consumers who will enjoy a daily opportunity to buy excellent products and services at a great price,” said Ms McKenna.

CEO of Cudo Australia, Billy Tucker, said the expansion of the Company into New Zealand is a natural move:

“Our winning formula which has quickly propelled Cudo to the number one spot in Australia is expected to make a big splash in New Zealand. Our JV with MediaWorks puts us in an enviable unique position to provide Cudo businesses with extensive marketing support, in addition to access to a significant audience.”

Consumers wishing to purchase the daily product offer register an expression of interest, and once registration reaches a critical point the deal goes live and vouchers are issued to those who registered interest.

Cudo NZ is currently recruiting a General Manager, and will be launching the service to consumers in March.

MediaWorks TV (TV3 & C4) has appointed Linda Farrelly as its new Director of Sales.

Ms Farrelly has been with the Company for more than a decade, and for the last nine years has been the General Manager of National Sales.

Announcing the appointment MediaWorks TV CEO, Jason Paris, said Linda’s credentials are impeccable.

“Linda Farrelly’s credibility and respect within the media and agency environment is impressive and this has been a significant factor in her appointment,” he said.

“Importantly, she is also highly regarded by her colleagues in our Sales division, and her peers in other parts of MediaWorks TV,” said Mr Paris.

“Linda came through a challenging international search process, and to know we had the best person for the job already in the team speaks volumes about the calibre of people we have within the organisation,” he said.

Ms Farrelly said she is looking forward to the challenge of her new role.

“We have great agency and client relationships, and this is an incredible opportunity for me to improve our business further.  I am thrilled to be leading the team and our business forward,” she said.

The appointment is effective immediately.

MediaWorks has appointed its current TV Engineering Manager, Roger Randle, to the group role of Director of Technology.

Announcing the appointment, Group Managing Director Sussan Turner said she was delighted this important appointment came from within the organisation.

“We conducted an international search for this key executive appointment, and it is excellent we have been able to promote someone from within our existing pool of very talented managers,” she said.

“Roger came through a rigorous recruitment process with flying colours. His technical skills, strategic ability, leadership strength and his respect from within the industry were all important factors in his appointment,” said Ms Turner.

“He thoroughly understands the MediaWorks culture, and his appointment will make for a seamless transition,” she said.

Mr Randle will oversee all technology requirements for MediaWorks across the radio, TV and Interactive divisions of the Company.

“In the years ahead strength in the technology arena will be a critical success factor for all media companies. I know with Roger in this leadership role we are well positioned for the future,” she said.

Mr Randle has been with MediaWorks since 2001, and has been TV Engineering Manager since 2004. He has enjoyed a 20 year career in the broadcast and I.T. industry, commencing in the UK before relocating to New Zealand where he worked for Fisher & Paykell and Panasonic New Zealand prior to joining MediaWorks.

Roger Randle said he is excited about his appointment, and the opportunity to work with such a talented and innovative technology team.

“I have absolute faith in their abilities, and look forward to working alongside the team to meet MediaWorks’ evolving technology needs,” Mr Randle said.

Roger Randle’s appointment is effective immediately, as he steps into the role replacing industry veteran John Allen who announced he was stepping down from his position two months ago. Mr Allen will continue to work with MediaWorks in a consulting role.

John Allen, MediaWorks’ Director of Technology has announced he’ll be stepping down from his fulltime role at the end of August for lifestyle reasons.

However, he will continue to advise MediaWorks on technical projects such as the upcoming digital switchover and other specialist work.

Mr Allen has been with the Company for 10 years and has worked in the broadcast industry for 25 years.

MediaWorks Group Managing Director Sussan Turner paid tribute to John Allen’s significant contribution to both MediaWorks and the broadcast industry in New Zealand.

“John has been a leading industry player in the vital behind-the-scenes technical development of the broadcasting business in New Zealand.

“He was instrumental in delivering High Definition television to New Zealanders and TV3 viewers benefited by receiving this service first in the country.  John drove the technical standards for HD television in New Zealand, and we are grateful for his enormous contribution to our business and the industry in New Zealand,” said Ms Turner.

“The good news is that we will be able to continue to tap into John’s expertise and capability in an ongoing capacity,” she said.

John Allen said there have been numerous career highlights for him.

“Introducing widescreen TV, High Definition TV and the tapeless environment have all been significant step changes in our industry and it’s been a privilege to be at the forefront of such major developments,” said Mr Allen.

Mr Allen has also represented the industry on numerous Government Boards as well as the Freeview Board.

“Right now my next priorities are all about lifestyle and creating enough time for more fishing, more blue grass music, and achieving a hole in one at my new permanent local golf course at Mangawhai,” he said.

Mr Allen will also be working on other commercial consulting projects as required in the broader industry “as long as it doesn’t cramp my lifestyle” he commented.

 

Colin Caldwell, MediaWorks TV Director of Sales, has announced he is leaving his role to set up an independent business consultancy.

The business will be launching in the next few weeks and in the meantime Mr Caldwell will be consulting MediaWorks TV in a transition to being fulltime in his new business.

“Colin has steered our TV sales team for nine years,” said MediaWorks TV CEO, Jason Paris.

“He has decided he wants to pursue his own business ideas and interests and we accept and support his decision.  I will be working closely with Colin and the team in the weeks ahead as we work to find someone for this key executive role,” Mr Paris said.

“Colin has made a significant contribution to the commercial success of MediaWorks, over the last 18 years, and I thank him for both the long hours and long lunches he has contributed towards that success,” he said.

Colin Caldwell said: “I am excited to be able to set up in business independently, this has been a desire of mine for many years and now it has become a reality.  I’m grateful to TV3 for the opportunity they have given me to transition to my own business while continuing to provide services to the company and support my team.”

“It has been a privilege to work for TV3 and I wish the company and all the staff well in the future.”

$314 Million in the hole and the reorg’s not over yet. McKenna and Jennings next to face the firing squad?

Mediaworks, the owner of TV networks TV3 and C4, has announced a massive loss of $314 Million dollars (the biggest yet). The Network’s attributing $258 Million of that to a write-down associated with its 2007 acquisition of the business. Although a loss of this scale is unprecedented for the Mediaworks business it is nothing new for an organization, which like many has been smashed around by the recession after a hugely leveraged buyout in the height of the easy-credit financial bubble. The goodwill write-off symbolizes just how much of a premium Ironbridge paid for the Mediaworks assets. Still, with huge losses comes an even bigger demand to cut costs, and as Ironbridge execs have proved in the past, either Mediaworks Management toes the line, or faces the consequences.

TV3 Minus 314... Million

Whilst most of the Mediaworks burden hails from large interest payments the company was also affected by operational restructuring costs associated with dumping its low-rating Breakfast rival ‘Sunrise’ a few weeks ago. In addition cuts across its Radioworks network (consisting of The Rock, more FM, The Breeze, RadioLIVE and more) happen on an almost annual basis. Speculation was rife in 2009 that the Board was looking to slice its Radio and TV businesses in two with some arguing the synergy between the two businesses was almost non-existent, with infighting between Radio and TV execs rife. Additionally if one of the divisions were to be sold, this could reduce Ironbridge’s debt burden and arguably obscure how much they overpaid for the group. But the decision was made to keep the two as one, in the short term.

On top of the substantial write-down and staff layoffs, Mediaworks’ flagship TV network TV3 has suffered at the hands of low ratings in the first quarter of 2010. Last year long time Mediaworks CEO Brent Impey fell on his sword after poor performance in the TV business prompted the board to ask him to make layoffs. When he refused he was cut loose (or resigned depending on who you believe). With that, former Channel 9 (Australia) <strike>axe-wielder</strike> executive Ian Audsley was employed on a short-term contract to do what Impey had refused. Audsley cancelled both Sunrise and ASB Business and announced the implementation of a new Studio Automation System that would replace floor crews with Robotic Cameras and eliminate control room staff (an additional 20 jobs to go). When all’s said and done programming executives are more optimistic for the remainder of 2010, with a new season line-up underway.

More Rolling Heads?

After butchering her side of the business Radioworks CEO Sussan Turner was rewarded with the role of Group CEO, overseeing both sides of the group with former TVNZ marketing executive Jason Paris to head the TV networks in the coming days. Still, the onslaught of new Management has many at the top questioning the competency of those below.

Mediaworks’ online division ‘Interactive’ (largely considered the laughing stock of the business, both internally and externally) is headed by former radio staffer Siobhan McKenna, the board and management alike are said to be frustrated by the lack of performance in what they consider the future and core growth category of the Mediaworks business. Two options are currently being tabled, firstly the idea of dismantling the Interactive business and redistributing control of each Brand’s digital presence back to the Brand itself (in other words TV3 would control TV3’s Website, The Edge would control theirs and so on) with both Radio and TV divisions sharing responsibility for advertising sales. This however is a close second to Management’s preferred option of finding a new more suitable head for the division, with Jason Paris paying particular oversight to the development of TV (specifically the OnDemand business) and insight for new ventures in the radio division.

3News' Mark Jennings next for Axe?

Turner is also reportedly livid with ‘News and Current Affairs’ chief Mark Jennings who managed to absorb huge amounts of staff back into existing positions after ASB Business and Sunrise were cancelled, the argument being same cost structure, less programming. This comes off the back of a 3News reporter signing into a Prison as a relative of Clayton Weatherston, Campbell Live staff dressing up as Medal Thieves, his failure to gain an audience for Sunrise and losing high profile staff such as Rod Cheeseman and Kate Lynch to TVNZ. The trouble for Turner is who to replace Jennings with. Internally staff are impressed with the leadership of 3News Executive Producer Mike Brockie, but he is close to Jennings, and reportedly couldn’t be less interested in the role. Conversely producer John Hale is believed to be keen but he may be too polarizing, alienating several staff in the past, so perhaps Jennings is safe, for the moment.

The bigger picture in the coming months is the possibility IronBridge will offload the business altogether. IronBridge’s managing partner Julian Knights recently told Reuters it was looking to dump a number of its businesses whilst the market was hot but refused to include Mediaworks in the list only to say they were exploring their options. When prompted by the NZ Herald on the possibility of a profitable sale spokesman Kerry McIntosh said “We are facing a more difficult set of circumstances than we were at the beginning, but if the market continues to recover and we trade well we expect we will be okay.” That said, with a $91 Million payment in interest alone for the past year the prospect of a profitable sale might seem further and further away.

 

Television revenue for the first quarter of 2010 was $122 million, an increase of $3 million or 2.9% from the $118.6 million achieved in the first quarter of 2009. 

The increase shows resuming confidence in the New Zealand advertising market and specifically in free-to-air television.

With television viewing at record levels, advertisers using the medium are enjoying continuing and increasing effectiveness for their advertising dollar. 

Revenue figures are sourced from returns prepared by TVNZ, MediaWorks TV and SKY Network Television (including Prime).

MediaWorks NZ Limited is pleased to announce that it has completed a successful recapitalisation. Shareholders have made an increased capital commitment of $70m which has been used to repay senior debt, reset fixed interest rate swaps and provide ongoing liquidity to the Company. This has been accompanied by a comprehensive restructure of the Company’s banking arrangements. Funds advised by Ironbridge contributed $50m of the new capital and they remain the Company’s majority shareholders.

Mr Brent Harman, Chairman of MediaWorks said: “The recapitalisation, combined with the restructure of the Company’s banking arrangements, has placed the Company on a sound financial footing. This, together with the improving ad market conditions, places the Company in an excellent position for 2010 and beyond.”

Mr Kerry McIntosh, NZ Operating Partner of Ironbridge said: “The recapitalisation confirms the commitment of the Ironbridge Funds to MediaWorks. We believe MediaWorks is a high quality business and this was a key driver of our decision to support the business and its senior management team by investing further funds. The improved banking package and lower cash interest costs delivered by the restructure will ensure the business is well placed to take advantage of improved trading conditions.”