Australian pubcaster lays off 59 staffers

AUCKLAND — Pubcaster TVNZ announced 59 job cuts in its struggling news and current affairs division, including a downgrade of “Tonight,” its late news show that is to be an update of the 6 p.m. news hour.

Cuts saw the weekly current affairs show “Sunday” lose half its staff including some of New Zealand’s most experienced TV journalists.

Changes are part of a push to cut $7.4 million off the $37 million news budget that ballooned in the past year as ratings crashed.

The announcement has been foreshadowed and it is expected to be the prelude for 90 to 100 more job losses and $14.8 million across other divisions later this month.

TVNZ recently announced financial results for the six months to Dec. 31 that showed revenue down $12.4 million to $171 million.

Chief exec Rick Ellis warned the second six months to June 30 would be even tougher because of a weak advertising market and fragmentation from new media.

Ellis — who was appointed CEO in April 2006 — said the problems were inherited.

“We are still dealing with the legacy of high cost structure the business created from 2002-2005,” he said.

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