Friday, September 3, 2010

TVNZ's culture of extravagence

So TVNZ staff are getting their credit cards taken from them - this, from the Herald:

TVNZ workers' days of splurging on company plastic have ended, as the state broadcaster cuts up hundreds of credit cards to avoid "misleading" publicity.

Nearly everyone from celebrity presenters to senior executives will be affected.

Chief executive Rick Ellis has told staff that following a review of company practices, they will have their cards taken away.

TVNZ has hit the headlines in recent years for credit card spending.

More than 470 of its 900 or so staff have had cards, and in the six months to January this year - a time of cost cutting - they spent $3.18 million. Almost 100 of the cards had a monthly cap of at least $10,000.

Mr Ellis racked up more than $140,000 on his own company plastic in two years - including $32,000 entertaining.

He and senior executives will be among those losing their cards, and soon there will be as few as 50 left at TVNZ.

Staff will now have to apply to get work-related expenses reimbursed, though some field staff will retain their cards.

That's wonderful news! TVNZ staffers are going to find out what it's like for most of the rest of us, out here in the REAL world. We're particularly pleased to see Rick Ellis' card bite the dust. It's worked so hard, that its retirement is well deserved!

And if you needed any further evidence of the culture of extravagence which pervades the corridors at TVNZ, read on (our emphasis added):

A TVNZ source was still unhappy with the chief executive over the decision. "It's a bad look, and a slap in the face for senior executives."

There were already tight controls in place, the source said.

Last year, belt-tightening required staff to cut back Friday-night drinks on their company cards to once a month.

Clothing and "grooming" allowances began to be audited, and staff had to start asking permission before entertaining people and taking non-story-related travel.

Welcome to the real world TVNZ. If we go for a drink on a Friday night, we pay for it. Our business receives some government funding, and we made a conscious decision early on that any alcohol purchases we made would be paid for personally; it's not an appropriate use of taxpayer funds. Not so, it seems at TVNZ, where a culture of getting sloshed on the taxpayer seems to have become endemic.

And of course, it's all OUR fault that this has come about:

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said the change would not affect what expenses staff could charge to the company.

The credit cards were being taken away because "misleading" and "unfair" media stories had latched on to the cards, tarnishing the company's reputation, she said.

"We've had absolutely no concerns about improper or reckless spending, contrary to popular opinion. We've had it under very tight controls," Ms Richards said.

Does anyone else sense a Tui billboard arising from that statement? How dare we, the taxpayers of New Zealand ask for accountability!

It seems that the cards may be going, but the dreaded disease entitleitis will linger at TVNZ for a little while yet.


PM of NZ said...

I have no doubt the entitleitis is continuing unabated. Just the MO has changed, ie instead of a publicly scrutinised credit card, such charges will now be cryptically hidden as 'services rendered' in an invoice payable on the 20th.

baxter said...

It seems a bit of a hassle but Megan Richards seems to want the staff to get the bar manager to give them an account at the end of the month for their monthly Friday Night freebees.

Anonymous said...

TVNZ is not tax payer funded. It's not our money being used to pay for this anymore, it's advertisers. You could at least get your facts right.