AUCKLAND — A key veteran exec at Television New Zealand has been shown the door less than a month before the pubcaster implements its first public-service charter.
Shaun Brown’s head of television post will be replaced by two new positions, head of programming and head of new business development.
Friday’s news shocked staff at the state-owned company, where Brown has spent 20 years working his way up the ranks from reporter.
He was appointed head of television in October and had purchased content at the Mip market and the L.A. Screenings.
The decision was described by one TV observer as a political shafting.
Some said Brown had been on borrowed time since the Labor-led government came to power nearly three years ago. It assailed TVNZ for a contract blunder that cost NZ$6 million ($2.82 million).
Brown was one of three managers who lured opposition news anchor John Hawkesby to the pubcaster with a lucrative salary, then sacked him weeks later when ratings dropped. Hawkesby sued and won a multimillion-dollar payout.
Two other execs — head of news and current affairs Paul Cutler and chief executive Rick Ellis — have since left TVNZ.
Brown was considered an experienced hand and a key exec to help usher in the new charter on July 1, when social objectives will take priority over commercial success.
However, the government expects TVNZ to hold its market share of around 60% and maintain ad revenue to pay for more Kiwi content. The challenging task has been handed to new CEO Ian Fraser.
Brown was overlooked for the top job in favor of Fraser, a former broadcaster and government choice. Brown has not said what his future plans are.