TVNZ denies job losses from newsroom upgrade

The new system will give staff across three centres access to the same files and will also create a disaster-recovery capability

TVNZ’s head of news operations denies moves to upgrade newsrooms with new digital systems will result in job losses.

Media speculation of major redundancies at the state-owned broadcaster has been rife over the last few weeks, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 staff may lose their jobs. However, if that is the case, new newsroom technology will not be a factor, says head of news operations Don Cunningham.

TVNZ is upgrading its digital newsroom system in Auckland, and extending similar facilities to Wellington and Christchurch.

The equipment, based on software from OmniBus Systems and Quantel video servers and workstations, will allow for a “non-linear” workflow, so more than one person will be able to work on the same material at the same time. This will be the result of material being handled in the form of files rather than streams of data on the new system.

When “video-in” was simply converted to “video out” workflow was strictly linear, Cunningham says.

An improved media-asset management system is to be installed and workstations upgraded.

Auckland has been using the file-based Omnibus system for four years already, but it will be new to Wellington and Christchurch.

The Auckland upgrade will be installed in April, says Cunningham. This will give staff from the other two centres time to begin training on the new system and in the new way of working.

The Wellington and Christchurch systems will be installed in August, and then the three will all be linked together.

This last step will bring about big changes, says Cunningham. It will give staff in all three centres access to the same files and will also create an important disaster-recovery capability, as a result of material being reproduced on each of the three sets of servers.

Cunningham declined to disclose the cost of the upgrade and extension. Asked whether it is likely to facilitate intended redundancies in the newsrooms, he said more staff will be needed to administer the servers.

“We might save an editor or two”, but they are likely to be redeployed rather than made redundant. The timing of the change is more a question of the maturity of the technology, says Cunningham.

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