Monday, August 31, 2009

Pay freeze tipped as Radio NZ slashes costs

4:00AM Monday Aug 31, 2009
By John Drinnan

Radio New Zealand staff are expected to agree this week to a freeze on salaries as the public broadcaster identifies $1.5 million of savings to make ends meet.

Radio NZ is facing another round of cost cuts after the Government ignored warnings of chronic underfunding and staff shortages.

Cutbacks are common in the media sector, which has been ravaged by an advertising slump. Commercial radio stations have also been laying off staff, and Television New Zealand has cut staff and programming.

Radio NZ does not rely on advertising and all government departments face cuts.

But it has been severely underfunded in good times, and is in a poor position to make cuts now.

Because public radio is wholly reliant on taxpayers and funding was frozen in the last Budget, it would battle to sustain services, an industry source said.

The Government froze funding despite an independent "baseline funding review" from accountancy firm KPMG, which showed Radio NZ was underfunded and understaffed, and underpaid its employees.

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(Fred Waterer/ODXA)