Viewers tuning in to watch Wendy Petrie anchor the TVNZ 6pm news wouldn’t know that her days on the job were numbered.
The veteran journalist, who has co-anchored the nightly bulletin job alongside Simon Dallow for the past 14 years, is understood to be the latest casualty to the Covid-19 crisis.
Petrie put on a brave face to anchor the news this evening with Jack Tame, just four days after she was understood to have been told by TVNZ bosses that they did not intend to keep her on the staff.
The Herald understands Petrie was told on Thursday about the move, which is part of a Covid-19 restructure the company announced on June 15.
TVNZ had earlier confirmed it would reduce 70 to 90 roles to recover a 30 per cent loss in revenue during the Covid-19 lockdown.
On June 20, the Weekend Herald reported that Petrie and Dallow were having to apply for the same role as sole newsreader of the weekday 6pm bulletin.
In late June, Petrie denied to the Herald any decision had been conveyed from TVNZ management, saying “it’s all very confidential”.
However, when announcing the job losses, TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said the company “expects to confirm the new business structure by early July”.
Kenrick said TVNZ was trying to recover from a 30 per cent revenue drop influenced by Covid-19’s impact on the advertising market.
The broadcaster is trying to save $10 million in this process.
Final consultation meetings with staff and management were reportedly occurring over the past two weeks.
TVNZ told the Herald on Sunday it had no comment to make at the weekend, while Petrie did not respond to requests for comment.
Different news readers, including Jack Tame, John Campbell and Melissa Stokes, fronted the evening news slot last week as Petrie took a school holiday break with her family and Dallow had time off.
There are also murmurings that TVNZ staff are particularly unhappy with how the consultation process has been dealt with, and that certain departments within the newsroom are visibly despondent.
The Herald is aware of other journalists in the TVNZ newsroom on six-figure salaries who were told in early June they no longer have a job.
Almost half of video archive staff in the newsroom are facing redundancies, the Herald understands.
The economic slump following the Covid-19 pandemic has seen advertising revenue drop for all of New Zealand’s media outlets.
MediaWorks, with its television arm still up for sale, cut 130 jobs and asked staff business-wide to take a pay cut until the end of September.
On June 12, the company slumped to a $25.14m loss, casting “significant doubt” on its future.
In April, Stuff also asked its employees on more than $50,000 to take a voluntary 15 per cent pay cut, and their senior executives to take a 25 per cent cut.
The same month, NZME, which owns the NZ Herald, asked staff on a salary of more than $50,000 per year take a 15 per cent pay cut for 12 weeks, and 200 job losses were announced.
It is understood the decision to reduce to just one permanent TVNZ 6pm news reader crystallised for management during lockdown when there was only a single week-night news anchor.
During lockdown the newsroom had been separated into two teams, who entered the TVNZ Auckland bureau in Victoria St in the CBD on alternating weeks.
At the weekend, the 1 News 6pm bulletin only had one news anchor.
In March, the Herald reported that of TVNZ’s top-20 highest-paid presenters between 2017-19, the average man earned $254,510 a year.
Women in the group were paid $210,597.
SOURCE: NZ HERALD