Television New Zealand chief executive Kevin Kenrick will take a keen interest in Nine Entertainment’s planned sale of its New Zealand business and isn’t ruling out having a look at Stuff’s assets.
Kenrick told Parliament’s economic development, science and innovation select committee that the future of the media market will be characterised by change and he expects that to continue this year.
“As a key participant in the market, we have a very keen interest in seeing what’s happening and keeping in touch with that,” he said.
When asked by National MP Melissa Lee whether TVNZ was interested in the Stuff assets, Kenrick said the free-to-air broadcaster needs to preserve its options and make sure it’s an attractive partner for other players.
“We don’t rule anything in, we don’t rule anything out, but at the same time what we have to focus on is what we can control, which is our own performance.”
Stuff is in play after former owner Fairfax Media Group was bought by Nine Entertainment last year. The Australian broadcaster was clear from the outset that it wasn’t interested in the New Zealand assets. The independent report on that deal by Grant Samuel valued the Kiwi business at $115 million-$135 million.
Rival newspaper publisher NZME would be a logical buyer. However, it was blocked from merging with Stuff by the Commerce Commission last year. ComCom threw out the media companies’ arguments around essential economic savings, instead deciding the merger would be detrimental to public good.
TVNZ chair Therese Walsh told MPs that the state-owned broadcaster wants to be involved in any discussion about ensuring New Zealand has the most efficient system, whether that relates to public or private assets.
Ultimately, it comes down to what the shareholder wants, she said.