THE DAY OF RECKONING
June 17 won’t be remembered as one of the better days in New Zealand’s media history, with the country’s second biggest free-to-air broadcaster going into receivership, Fairfax officially announcing the closure of three of its tech titles and The Truth ceasing publishing after more than 125 years. It’s Mediamageddon!
MediaWorks made the biggest splash, announcing that it would be put into receivership and the ownership structure would be changed. Unlike most receiverships, however, the pundits largely saw this as a positive step. With new chief Rod McGeoch and TV doyenne Julie Christie named as a director, it’s supposedly “business as usual”, with all 1400 jobs remaining. Ironbridge Capital and other equity holders that loaded the company with debt, have lost their investment. The IRD is also thought to be unlikely to receive the $22 million it says MediaWorks owes. And while the bankers have their slice of the company after the debt-for-equity swap, there’s is talk of more local ownership in the future.
The loss of 25-year-old ComputerWorld, as well as PC World and Reseller News, was a blow to the ICT community. But Lynley Belton, Fairfax Magazines general manager, says as much as she regretted having to make this tough decision, she believes it is “in the best interests of our long-term success as a producer of quality content for New Zealanders”.
“With change comes opportunity, and we are looking at ways to increase our technology presence across other Fairfax channels as the business adapts,” she says.
As for The Truth, ‘the nation’s paper since 1887’, it had attempted a resuscitation with the arrival of Cameron ‘Whaleoil’ Slater as editor late last year, but Matthew Horton, who owns a 50 percent stake in the paper, told the NBR the tabloid was too far gone and “had taken a very seedy turn over the last five years and I think that probably cost the paper a lot of sales”.