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New Zealand’s TVNZ and RNZ to merge

New Zealand broadcasters TVNZ and RNZ will merge next year, the government has announced.

Both will become part of a new public media organisation, the Broadcasting Minister, Kris Faafoi, said. The announcement follows a two-and-a-half-year internal debate within the government.

Mr Faafoi said he expected the new organisation, which does not yet have a name, would be operating by July next year and would provide more services online.

TVNZ and RNZ will initially keep their separate identities, operating as subsidiaries of the new entity, but the government has not ruled out subsuming them fully into the new organisation after a transition period.

The new organisation would be “built on the best of both RNZ and TVNZ”, Mr Faafoi said.

“New Zealanders are among some of the most adaptive audiences when it comes to accessing content in different ways; like their phones rather than television and radio, and from internet-based platforms,” he said.

“We must be sure our public media can adapt to those audience changes.”

Mr Faafoi acknowledged that TVNZ and RNZ staff might be uneasy about change. He did not rule out job cuts but said that was not the purpose of the merger.

Since RNZ’s running costs exceed the profits TVNZ normally makes from advertising sales, the new organisation is expected to be non-profit, continuing to make money from advertising but also receiving government funding, the news website Stuff said.