E tū delegates play key role in new media merger

A joint TVNZ/RNZ delegates committee has been established to make sure workers’ interests are well represented in the big media merger between TVNZ and RNZ and popular TVNZ correspondent and E tū member Barbara Dreaver, is appointed to the new entity’s establishment board.

E tū members aim to ensure that workers’ voice is at the heart of decision making during the transition and workers are empowered to participate in its creation and future.

Members working as journalists at the two state-owned media companies are cautiously optimistic about the possibilities ahead.

Delegate Garth Bray, who works at TVNZ, says it makes more sense to think of the merger as an “integration” as there is no talk of cuts to jobs.

“Every indication we’ve had from every level is that this is actually about preserving journalism and keeping it strong, and making sure that it’s got a future and making sure that those people that do those jobs have jobs, and have good jobs. That’s quite a heartening thing.”

The test will be seeing how things play out once the new entity is in place, he says.

Garth says there’s also the sense of a “stocktake” – working out how things work currently at both companies and how they might work together in the future.

RNZ delegate Phil Pennington says how the entity would run – its structure and funding – was still unclear, and worker input in the next year into how that pans out is hugely important, through the likes of the worker rep on the establishment board.

“RNZ comes to the integration much more widely unionised than TVNZ,  and with good conditions, but nevertheless with pay well behind public sector median rates – something that has started to be directly addressed in the last 12 months,” Phil says.

“This reflects the pressures on the funding model. How will these be addressed in the new entity?

“It is an ideal time for collective input by workers to the companies and government to help make an entity that serves New Zealanders better,” he says.

In March, the Government announced a proposal that would see broadcasters TVNZ and RNZ combined into a single entity, known at the moment as the “Public Media Entity” or PME.

The purpose of the PME would be to provide news and entertainment as a public service, run as a non-profit organisation.

Legislation would be put in place to ensure that the organisation maintained its editorial independence, with funding coming from the Government and advertising.

The intention is to have the PME up and running by July 2023.