ⓘ MediaWorks New Zealand is a New Zealand-based television, radio and interactive media company entirely owned by U.S. company Oaktree Capital Management. It oper ..

MediaWorks New Zealand

ⓘ MediaWorks New Zealand

MediaWorks New Zealand is a New Zealand-based television, radio and interactive media company entirely owned by U.S. company Oaktree Capital Management. It operates playout services from Auckland and Wellington studios via Kordias microwave network for Newshub, Three, and Bravo, ten national radio brands, eighteen websites and three locally operated radio stations.

In 2019, Mediaworks announced that they were putting their television network Three up for sale. At this point in time, it is unclear how long Three will last on New Zealand television.


1. History

In 2004, CanWest Global Communications combined television company TV3 Network Services and radio company RadioWorks to form the new MediaWorks company. On 29 July 2004, 30% of this new company was sold on the NZSX. Three years later, in July 2007, CanWest sold its stake of the company to Ironbridge Capital, a group of Australian investors, who subsequently obtained the remaining 30% from other investors.

In 2011, MediaWorks received a $43 million loan guarantee for the Government to renew its licenses until 2030. The deal went against official advice, and then Communications Minister Steven Joyce was accused of having a conflict of interest as the past managing director of the companys RadioWorks division. The loan was described by AUTs Centre for Journalism, Media and Democracy as a form of corporate welfare, and was criticised by blogger Sarah Miles as a case of governmental interference in the media. Among other companies, Radio Bay of Plenty secured commercial loans, The Radio Network covered its own costs, and Rhema Broadcasting Group covered the cost with no-interest loans.

The US-based Oaktree Capital Management bought $125 million of loans to MediaWorks in 2012. These were converted to equity in 2013. In June 2013, with over NZ$700 million in debt, MediaWorks NZ was put into receivership. It came out of receivership in November 2013. Oaktree Capital Management took 100% ownership of the business in 2015.

In August 2014, Mark Weldon was appointed CEO, replacing Susan Turner, who had resigned in July 2014. Weldon resigned in May 2016 at the same time that a large number of long serving and high-profile staff were leaving the company under his leadership. CFO David Chalmers replaced him in an acting capacity.

In May 2016, MediaWorks and NBCUniversal Television Distribution entered into a joint venture and revamped Channel Four as the new reality television channel Bravo. In August 2016, Michael Anderson was appointed as CEO of MediaWorks.


1.1. History Television

Three was founded as TV3 in 1989 after the Fourth Labour government allowed for a private television broadcaster. CanWest obtained TV3 between 1991 and 1997 after the National government loosened rules on foreign ownership. Under CanWest control, TV3 relaunched in March 1998 with a new brand and a 3 News bulletin hosted by John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld.

MediaWorks was created in 2004, and owned TV3 and C4. In 2005, Hilary Barry & Mike McRoberts became the stations news anchors. TV3 staff also launched youth station TV4 in 1997, and replaced it with C4 in 2003.

In 2009 the timeshift channel TV3 Plus 1 was launched. C4 2 was launched in 2010, then, when Four replaced C4 in 2011, C4 replaced C4 2. In 2014, timeshift channel Four Plus 1 was launched, and The Edge TV replaced C4.

In 2016, Bravo and Bravo Plus 1 replaced Four and Four Plus 1.

In 2017, TV3 was rebranded as Three. On 15 April 2018, MediaWorks launched ThreeLife, a lifestyle channel.

On 1 July 2019, The Edge TV moved exclusively online, and was replaced on TV by ThreeLife + 1.

On 18 October 2019, it was announced that MediaWorks was intending to sell off their television division including Three, ThreeLife, and Bravo. MediaWorks also intends to sell its Flower Street head office and studios in Aucklands Eden Terrace. Several Three television programs and shows have also been canceled. Media commentator Bill Raston has claimed that hundreds of jobs could be lost if a buyer is not found.

ThreeLife and ThreeLife + 1 went off air on 26 March 2020. ThreeLife was replaced by The Edge TV. ThreeLife + 1 will be replaced by The Breeze TV on 16 April; in the meantime, a simulcast of The Breeze is played.


1.2. History Radio

MediaWorks inherited most of its radio stations from its namesake RadioWorks, which was itself the result of a history of amalgamations. That history began when Radio Pacific purchased the Energy Enterprises group of local North Island stations in the 1990s and began to operate as Pacific/Radioworks Group. In 1999 Radio Pacific and Radio Otago merged to form the publicly listed company RadioWorks; this included the growing brands of The Edge, The Rock and Solid Gold.

Between 2000 and 2001 CanWest purchased RadioWorks, awaiting company restructuring before completing the year-long takeover, and moved its existing MORE FM group assets, including Channel Z and The Breeze Wellington, into the company. Local heritage stations were categorised under the LocalWorks brand. Some stations, like Magic 828 and 98.6FM Manawatu, The Breeze Wellington and Lite FM Christchurch, were transferred to an easy listening format and were rebranded as semi-local stations in The Breeze in 2004.

The music format on most of the LocalWorks stations was an Adult Contemporary format, including KCC FM Northland, Y99.3 FM Waikato, Coastline FM Tauranga, Lakes 96FM Rotorua, Energy FM Taranaki, Hot 93 Hawkes Bay, Star FM Wanganui, 2XS FM Manawatu, Fifeshire FM Nelson, C93FM Christchurch, Radio Central in Central Otago, Resort Radio Queenstown, 4XO Dunedin and Foveaux FM Southland. From March 2003, these stations were required to introduce a centralised playlist to create a standard in the music played across the stations. Many of these stations became part of the More FM network in December 2004.


2.1. Services Television

Three, Bravo and The Edge TV operate out of Auckland City. Television advertising is sold by the MediaWorks offices in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Melbourne, Sydney and Hamilton. There are Newshub bureaus in the Three Headquarters in Auckland and MediaWorks offices in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, with news staff working out of other offices as needed. Three provides mature content, Newshub bulletins, current affairs and sport. The Edge TV launched in 2014 and broadcasts music videos and entertainment news. All are available via all digital platforms such as terrestrial, satellite and cable. TV3 and Four were the only ones previously available via analogue terrestrial on the VHF band before the 2013 switch-off. The Edge TV was added in 2018. Bravo and Bravo Plus 1 replaced Four and Four Plus 1 in 2016. ThreeLife was added in 2018, and ThreeLife + 1 replaced The Edge TV on terrestrial in 2019. On 25 March 2020, ThreeLife went off air, and was replaced by The Edge TV, and its timeshift channel by The Breeze TV.


2.2. Services Radio

Since its inception in 2004, MediaWorks have moved its local stations over to the More FM and The Breeze brand; all these broadcasts now carry this branding and some or all of the brands programming. At the same time, MediaWorks have rolled out new brands Radio Live and Kiwi FM, converted Radio Pacific to LiveSport, and purchased brands Mai FM and George FM. MediaWorks owns Times FM in Orewa, Coromandel FM on the Coromandel Peninsula and Radio Dunedin in Otago.


2.3. Services Local services

Coromandel FM is a regional Coromandel Peninsula radio network with a Hot AC music format and hourly Radio Live News updates. It was officially launched by station manager Warren Male in December 1992, but began as short trial broadcasts on Pauanui-Tairua and Whitianga-Whangamata during previous summers. Under a contract with MediaWorks New Zealand, independent affiliate Coromandel FM Limited also operates The Breeze Mercury Bay and The Rock Mercury Bay from Thames.

Coromandel FMs daily breakfast programme is hosted by Rex Simpson and includes the Carswell Construction Rural Hour, political commentary from MP Scott Simpson, Thames-Coromandel Mayor Glenn Leach, and Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga, birthday announcements, and horoscopes. Alan Beagle hosts mid-mornings and Mike Bain hosts afternoons.


2.4. Services Interactive

MediaWorks Interactive consists of the Newshub website, the official websites of the companys television and radio brands, and six specialist websites set up since the department was formed in 2004. The Interactive department designs, maintains and sells advertising on all eighteen websites. Most websites have a similar layout and a MediaWorks link bar at the top of every page.

The Newshub website is the flagship news website of MediaWorks, and is continuously updated by the companys journalists. It claims to have provided the first video coverage and breaking news coverage of several events, including being the first website to have posted the verdict of the retrial of David Bain in 2009. It includes sections on national, world, sport, business, entertainment, politics, lifestyle, technology and odd news, as well as weather forecasts, information on Newshub programmes and a news forum. The other websites carry feeds from relevant sections.


3. Confidentiality and trust

On 10 March 2016 a reporter for MediaWorks broke embargo and leaked sensitive information about a 25 basis point cut by the Reserve Bank to the Official Cash Rate OCR. MediaWorks conducted their own investigation to the leak, and followed up with an apology from CEO Mark Weldon former head of the New Zealand Stock exchange, although Weldon stopped short of naming the reporters involved. As a result of the loss of trust with the media, the Reserve Bank has elected to discontinue the media lockup prior to future releases of the OCR.