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Warner Bros Discovery plans to close New Zealand TV news provider

FILE PHOTO: The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Cannes

By Lucy Craymer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - One of New Zealand's two free-to-air television networks said on Wednesday it was proposing to close its newsroom operations, television news broadcasts and website from June 30, with the loss of up to 200 media jobs.

Warner Bros Discovery, which owns the news service Newshub that airs on television channel Three, said in a statement it needed to further reduce costs and that meant major changes including the planned shut down of the newsroom.

Under New Zealand law, a proposed restructure or redundancies must be consulted on before a final decision can be announced. A final decision is expected in early April.

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If implemented, the closure will end 35-years of broadcast news on the network Three and will leave state-owned but editorially independent TVNZ as the dominant producer of broadcast news for the New Zealand market.

“Free-to-air and news are expensive businesses to run. Put simply, the economic headwinds means the returns are not there,” said Glen Kyne, a senior vice president, at Warner Bros Discovery in Australia and New Zealand.

He added that he knew that Newshub was a "crucial part of a functioning media sector in New Zealand."

“These proposed changes will be hard if they are implemented, but we think they are necessary,” Kyne said.

Newshub said on its website that 200 journalists, producers, editors, camera operators and associated staff could lose their jobs.

Warner Bros Discovery reported said it plans to continue operating digital platform ThreeNow and network channel Three and these would show programming from the network’s extensive library and local programming where funding could be obtained.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)