NZ virus lockdown forces magazine publisher Bauer Media to close

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Bauer magazines
The Listener and North & South are among the publications impacted on by the Bauer Media closure. Image: Bridget Tunnicliffe/RNZ

By RNZ News

The publisher of some of New Zealand’s best known magazines has folded amid the economic fallout from the national coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

Bauer Media, which publishes The Listener, Woman’s Day, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, Metro, North and South and Next, says it is no longer viable and has shut its doors today.

Chief executive Brendon Hill said the Covid-19 lockdown had stopped magazine production and put the business in an untenable position.

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He said magazines depended on advertising and it was unlikely that would recover to pre-crisis levels.

Business advisory firm EY has been appointed to work on an orderly wind-down of the business, and buyers are being sought for the magazines.

New Zealand Bauer staff were told this morning of the closure.

Hill said local staff would get full redundancy and other entitlements.

‘Devastating blow’
“This is a devastating blow for our committed and talented team who have worked tirelessly to inform and entertain New Zealanders, through some of the country’s best-loved and most-read magazines.”

Bauer carried out an urgent review of its New Zealand operations and considered all options to keep part or all the business open, including engaging with the New Zealand government, Hill said.

“An active search is underway to find buyers for our New Zealand assets, including our many iconic titles, however, so far an alternative owner has not been found,” he said.

At her daily coronavirus briefing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was “frankly gutted” to hear Bauer Media’s decision to close its doors today without seeking government assistance.

Describing the titles published by Bauer as part of New Zealand’s history, Ardern said the government actively sought to assist Bauer through this time.

She said Bauer rejected the government’s aid.

“Minister Kris Faafoi spoke to them and asked if they could take up the wage subsidy. They refused.

“In my view, from what I know of this situation, this appears to be a decision that has been made at the same time as Covid-19, but not because of it.”

On  Monday, Radio Sport was taken off air indefinitely with its frequencies now carrying Newstalk ZB programming.

In a statement on the Radio Sport website, media company NZME said it had made the “incredibly difficult decision” to stop broadcasting.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

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