MediaWorks names new boss for tough job

2:38 pm on 2 August 2016

Analysis - Broadcasting company MediaWorks' new chief executive from Australia, Michael Anderson, will have a tough job leading a company that has had a turbulent time in a market that's set to get tougher.

Mediaworks

Photo: Screenshot

In a statement announcing his appointment, Mr Anderson said: "MediaWorks is a company with strong brands and a strong history in New Zealand. With the global disruption in media continuing, this an excellent time to join and lead MediaWorks through a difficult but exciting period."

It certainly won't be easy.

The company's radio networks - including The Edge, The Rock and Radio Live - are still popular and profitable. But its TV businesses - including TV3 and the freshly launched Bravo - have struggled against competitors.

MediaWorks itself, meanwhile, is owned by US-based investment fund Oaktree Capital, which is known for re-tooling distressed assets and selling them on for a profit.

When he stepped down in May, MediaWorks' previous chief executive Mark Weldon said the personal cost of the job for him was "now too high to continue".

His two years in charge took a toll on the company too. A number of its senior executives departed during his term, and several well-known journalists and broadcasters either left, or were made redundant, as Mr Weldon pushed through a multimedia strategy that was heavy on entertainment and light on news.

Mr Anderson will take the reins at the end of this month, facing a competitive landscape that could be about to become even more daunting. Sky TV wants to merge with Vodafone and news publisher Fairfax Media wants to hook up with NZME, which owns most of the radio stations MediaWorks doesn't have in its portfolio.

If those mergers get the green light, MediaWorks will find itself as something of a minnow in the media marketplace - facing two beefed-up competitors, in addition to its traditional television rival TVNZ.

Who is Michael Anderson?

Unlike his predecessor at MediaWorks, Mr Anderson has plenty of media industry experience.

He joined one of Australia's largest commercial radio companies, Austereo, 20 years ago, serving as a board member and as chief executive for seven years.

Austereo has gone down the multimedia route in recent years, branching out into online and TV distribution. Its Southern Cross and Ten channels carry TV shows that are familiar fare on MediaWorks' TV3 including The Voice, The Block and The X Factor.

Last month, he was appointed chairman of the board at Australian advertising company oOh! Media. He is also a non-executive director of Fairfax Media in Australia, a post he is expected to relinquish before getting his feet under the desk at MediaWorks in Auckland.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs