Auckland, October 18, 2019
Struggling media company MediaWorks is putting its TV business Three on the sale block, after axing and scaling back shows.
The Company, which owns television, radio and advertising operations, had reported through its own news organisation Newshub that it would sell its largest asset.
Three included ThreeLife, the Bravo joint venture and all of Newshub’s operations.
MediaWorks is owned by US private equity firm Oaktree Capital.
Radio Network stays
MediaWorks Chairman Jack Matthews said it would hold onto its profitable radio network and newly-acquired outdoor advertising company QMS.
“We are in the fortunate position of having two very strong growth platforms in radio and outdoor [advertising] that deliver both revenue and margin growth. Our focus now is to accelerate the opportunities that exist for those platforms,” he said.
MediaWorks merged with the billboard company QMS earlier this year.
He said the company had to face its commercial realities.
“The market that free-to-air television operates in is tough and has been exacerbated this year. This is reflected in the performance of all free-to-air television operators in New Zealand, not just us.
“Clearly the market – alongside the structural hindrances we operate under – has a larger impact on Three given its genuine commercial imperative.”
The Company would also sell its television headquarters near central Auckland, which it had owned for 30 years, to be leased back to the television business.
MediaWorks Chief Executive Michael Anderson said that MediaWorks TV was now in a place where “it can be separated from the radio and outdoor business to be operated under a new owner in a more sustainable fashion – and, ultimately, for profit.”
Yesterday (Thursday), The Project presenter Jesse Mulligan said on the show that Three might have to shut down the entire station if the government didn’t change its broadcasting policy.
Earlier this week MediaWorks said it was cutting key local TV comedies citing the company’s deepening problems and wider troubles in free-to-air television.
MediaWorks confirmed 7 Days – the country’s longest-running comedy show – will drop from 32 episodes a year to just 12 in 2020.
New Zealand Today – a new comedy series featuring Guy Williams – will not return to Three next year.
Commercial TV programmes come and go whether they have been fixtures in the schedule or not. Three’s long-running weekly comedy Jono And Ben (also New Zealand On Air supported) was canned last year because it was deemed to have run its course.