Tuesday, 21 November 2006

State TV closes due to lack of interest

Is it any wonder State TV in New Zealand falls over itself to praise the work of Hillin Cluck's Labour-led minority Government, when its staff members are trying their best to be the poster-kids of the Union movement.

Around 300 staff members walked off the job again this morning... for the 16th (!?!) time in the last month. Workers at Wellington's Avalon studio joined in the lightning strike action for the first time, forcing TV One's lifestyle/chat show Good Morning off the air.

They joined with other colleagues (both on and off screen) in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch... all members of the EPMU and PSA unions.

Workers want a 5% pay rise, and an extra week's annual leave. TVNZ in return is offering a 2.25% increase across the board (including incentive payments based on performance), but no extra leave.

The latest strike action comes just a week after suggestions TVNZ may be preparing to make staff cuts, after months of major budget blowouts. The State broadcaster's rumoured to be as much as $30 million behind budget, after a sharp fall in advertising revenue caused by sliding ratings.
TV One recently slashed its primetime ad rates for next year by around 14%, while TV2 announced a 1% ratecard cut. Rival CanWest MediaWorks meanwhile increased its primetime ratecard for TV3 by around 4%, bouyed by solid ratings and a stable programming lineup.

TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis told a Parliamentary committee the company was not planning redundancies, despite speculation of between 100 and 200 job losses. However, he admitted that a 'culture of excess' has hurt the state broadcaster.
While 300 workers are striking for better pay and conditions, it's been revealed TVNZ has 156 staff earning more that $100,000 a year, while a generous 507 workers have company credit cards (some with limits of over $75,000). A total of 136 staff also had Koru club air memberships paid for by the company.

* NZ Herald: Striking TVNZ workers force programme off air
* Stuff: 300 TVNZ workers walk off the job

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