Brian Edwards Media

The TVNZ Charter: a toothless tiger out of its misery.

telly-setWe appear to be the only country in the developed world without a public service television channel. By this I mean a channel that is state funded, commercial-free and programmed with the interests of the audience in mind, rather than a commercial imperative.

Now the TVNZ charter is to go, and this will no doubt be the trigger for public outrage and dire warnings. However, before we all start weeping, wailing and gnashing our teeth, we need to look at what we’ve lost.  The Charter was always a paper tiger, so watered down from its original intention of ensuring public service broadcasting, so limp and cautious and ineffectual, that it held the state broadcaster to – well, almost nothing but good intentions.

It came with a very large annual chunk of money for ‘public service broadcasting’, which was accounted for only in retrospect.  That money was spent on a number of projects, some of them very worthwhile.  But it was also spent on programmes that had previously been funded from commercial revenue; it was spent on buying overseas programmes; it was spent on Dancing with the Stars.

The result of the charter disappearing will be that TVNZ no longer has to pretend it is a public service broadcaster, that it no longer has to pay lip service to the needs of the wider public, that it can concentrate on returning a profit to its major shareholder, the Government. I suspect we’ll find that we’ve lost almost nothing but the excuses.

A sigh of relief is probably wafting round the TVNZ boardroom. That relief is justified.  The mixed model has always been an impossible challenge for any broadcaster. You can’t demand true public service broadcasting and also expect a channel to return a healthy profit.  You can’t screen minority programmes at peak viewing and expect to get an audience – and commercial broadcasting is all about delivering audiences to advertisers.  So TVNZ compromised by screening its minority programming at times when it’s hard to give advertising away – when midnight was looming, during daytime sessions, and especially on Sunday morning, when the channel is advertising-free.

Many of those programmes were never paid for with Charter money in any case.  NZ on Air funds most of the minority programming on television – and we’re not talking about Basket Weaving for Vegans here, we’re talking about series with substantial audiences like Asia Down Under, Tagata Pasifika and all NZ children’s programmes. To many of these programmes, the broadcaster contributes not one red cent.

So it always made sense to have NZ on Air monitor the Charter money, to make sure it went where the Government intended it to go, as it does with Radio New Zealand. The argument fell on deaf ears and the result was inevitable. Without an independent monitor, the decision making could be interpreted as cavalier, and eventually the direct funding was removed.

But TVNZ was still left with a Charter, albeit a wishy-washy one, and the Charter imposed upon it the obligation to cater for all New Zealanders, to provide programming across the spectrum. That obligation has now gone. The only true public service broadcasting we have left in this country is provided by Radio New Zealand.

TVNZ can claim that TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 (funded by the Government until 2011) are commercial free, but commercial breaks have just been replaced by ‘promo breaks’ advertising other programmes.  An ad is an ad, whether it’s paid for or not. The paradigm has already been established for commercials to slip in almost unnoticed when the funding dries up.

I would argue that the Maori Television Service provides the closest thing to public service television that we have in New Zealand.  The programming is paid for largely with government funding, but the amount of material the network is managing to produce for that money is truly impressive. So is the quality of that material, and the entertainment value it provides.

Maybe an enlightened broadcasting minister could hand a shiny new channel, a revised and strengthened Charter and its accompanying funding to MTS and see if it could serve the rest of New Zealander as effectively as it’s serving Maori. The result would be refreshing and entertaining at the very least.

In the meantime, we will remain the only developed country without a public service television channel.  That could be regarded as something of a disgrace

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59 Comments:

  1. Perhaps we should aspire to the Australian model..ABC Television.
    Quote…
    The ABC, the nation’s public broadcaster, broadcasts no external advertisements, but between programmes will broadcast promotions for its own programmes and merchandise, but is restricted to approximately five minutes per hour.
    Check their website..
    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/
    Sigh!

    • Perhaps we should aspire to the Australian model..ABC Television.

      I wish! Trouble is, the Australians have got five times the population that we have, and they still struggle to fund a state network. But a quick glance at the programmes on MTS will show you that it’s still possible to make the material on very little funding if you don’t have to make a profit.

  2. Pretty limp last sentence to an excellent post, JC. It IS a bloody disgrace. We’ve never had commercial-free television in New Zealand, not from Day One in 1960. There were fewer commercials then and we had some days off. But over the years the level of advertising has steadily increased, to the saturation levels we have now.

    You’re abolutely right that TVNZ is all about selling audiences to advertisers, rather than providing quality programming for viewers. That’s why nothing is ever looked at in depth. That’s why we have no discursive examination of social or political issues other than on Q&A which is marginalised on Sunday morning. That’s why One News is tabloid in content and presentation, dominated by crime and sensation. That’s why the average soundbite is now 7 seconds long. That’s why the motto of a “current affairs” programme like Close Up should be, “I’m sorry, we’re run out of time”. That’s why narrative programmes like movies and drama are destroyed for viewers by ad breaks that grow closer and closer together as you get into the movie or play. That’s why most of what you see on the State channel is unmitigated crap.

    That’s what the advertisers and the programmers want – programmmes that cope for the lowest common denominator in public taste: programme breaks that are so short that no-one will be bored enough to turn the TV off and miss the next set of commercials.

    It IS disgrace. Thank ***** (whoever you thank) for Radio New Zealand and Maori Television (and maybe for Russell Brown as well).

    We are ill-served by state television in this country and have been for years. It just got worse. Thanks Minister!

    • We’ve never had commercial-free television in New Zealand, not from Day One in 1960.

      That’s correct. Right from the get go there have been commercials on our telly. In early days we had commercial-free days – Mondays, Fridays and Sundays from memory. They were slowly eroded away, and now we have Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Oh – and Sunday mornings!

  3. I always wonder why ABC is held up as an example of a PSB. I travel to Oz frequently am struck by the mind numbing pap on that channel. I have to say looking at the programing on BBC TV channels these days makes you realise that the flight to dross has spread worldwide. If you like ad free garbage fine but I would rather have quality programming even with ads.

    Curiuosly I thought TVNZ prgraming was better before the charter; that’s what happens when woolly minded old ladies like Marion Hobb meddle. When I came to NZ in 1987 there were concerts on Sunday afternons, there was high quality drama on Sunday nghts, there were stimulating current affairs. It’s all disappeared. The best hope now is TVNZ 7 and pay for the Arts Channel and the occasional gem on UK TV or the history channel. I have no objection to adverts if there could be good quality programming. What gets up my nose is paying for Sky and still having to suffer adverts.

    Apart from that I prefer to buy DVDs and construct my own TV station, but I am of course lucky that I have the dosh!

    Failing all else I can turn to your blog for some mental stimulation.

  4. PS

    I hope my last comment about woolly minded old ladies is not going to earn me a blast about ageism and sexism. It was a joke: honest!

  5. 5

    Wrozzle Hmslkcjstone

    Thank god for that. The Government, finally, had the good sense to switch off the life support. No advertiser could sell his wares on a culturally-predicated show.

    “Jerry Springer, where is you? Come on back, all is forgiven”. All discerning viewers are salivating over the prospect of more TV Reality shows.

  6. So could Maori T.V be the real deal. Maori being defined as ‘natural’.
    Natural T.V – how ‘kiwi’.
    If only Seven Days was (were? would be?) broadcast on Maori T.V.

  7. >now we have Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Oh – and Sunday mornings!<
    Er no we don’t
    In the unlikely event of sitting down and actually watching something interesting on Easter Sunday. Every few minutes where the ad would be I get a promo for some shit program, so far removed from the content that i am trying to watch,that it makes me scream and throw things at the TV. as a viewer I am treated with no respect whasoeverand am being treated as ad fodder
    The only TV I now occasionaly watch is the news.
    However that now is so crappy. I will probably turn to the net for all my news.
    Thank FSM for RNZ

    ps FSM =fying spagetti monster

    • In the unlikely event of sitting down and actually watching something interesting on Easter Sunday. Every few minutes where the ad would be I get a promo for some shit program, so far removed from the content that i am trying to watch,that it makes me scream and throw things at the TV.

      My point exactly – an ad is an ad whether it’s paid for or not. It’s our experience – the viewers’ experience – that counts. That’s why we can’t trust TVNZ Channels 6 and 7 to remain commercial-free after 2011. The pattern is built in. For the viewer what is the difference in irritation level between an ad for a fast food outlet and the umpteenth promotion for another programme?

  8. Just a minor point Judy and Brian, but I don’t think there WERE commercials on New Zealand TV from day one in 1960. As far as I remember, we had about a year’s ad-free viewing before the damned things arrived on our screens. Bizarrely enough, I even seem to recall the subject matter of that first advertisement. It was for Handy Andy – cleans with the power of liquid lightening! (Was immediately hooked. Been using the stuff ever since. Who said ads don’t work?)

    Wouldn’t guarantee my memory 100% on these matters, but those are my recollections. Wonder if anyone more knowledgeable could verify or debunk them?

    • You could be right, Phil. I was in the wilds of the provinces when TV arrived, so it may well have been tainted before I ever saw it. Anyone remember for sure? Robert Boyd-Bell, come in, please.

  9. Yeah, well the real bugger is that we can’t quite afford SKY at the moment so we’re absolutely stuck with largely unwatchable/banal/moronic free-to-air. (I only get to see my beloved British/European football by regularly going around to a mate’s house ! And, no, the beautiful game is never “moronic” or “banal” !!!).

    Actually, I’ve been feeling utterly disenfranchised by the quality of both TVNZ’s/TV3’s (1) “news” and “current affairs” and (2) general programming for more than 15 years now. The dumbing-down process has been, of course, by no means a recent phenomenon – pretty much a snowballing effect since about 1989/1990.

    Not often I find myself agreeing with right-wing pundit Karl du Fresne, but he was spot on when he recently wrote that there’s: “always the nagging fear that I might miss something really important” by “giving up entirely” on TVNZ/TV3 news, but that each evening he assesses whether that feeling “will be outweighed by the irritation of sitting through so much pap. Most nights the balance of probabilities favours leaving the TV off.” Exactly !!!

    I think it’s important not to underestimate the degree of personal discretion involved in programming decisions. A few years ago in The Listener someone in the know (forget who it was, possibly Paul Norris ?) said people would be surprised how much programming at TVNZ comes down to the individual tastes of chief programmers. So, without wanting to sound in any way misogynistic, here, I can’t help wondering if our TV woes have at least to some extent been caused by the sheer self-indulgence of a group of middle-aged “growing old disgracefully” forty and fifty-something Boomer women ? I’m thinking of long-term chief programmers like Bettina Hollings and Annemarie Duff. Have they simply been going out and buying programmes that happen to excite themselves and their best friends ? (who they almost certainly refer to as “The Girls”). ie “Footballers’ Wives”, “Sensing Murder” and reality TV dross ?

    Back in 2005, Duff said TVNZ had been handicapped by “its heavy reliance on British drama”. “We need a better flow from 7.30pm…broad, accessible programmes.” She was particularly concerned about “under-delivering 25-44 year-olds” and capturing more of the Auckland market. (says it all for a 45 year-old Wellingtonian like me !!!). Among other things, she hoped to achieve this with “an unprecedented injection of longer-running American dramas” on TV1. (ie those great big one hour slabs of dreary US crime drama – 4 or 5 different series with essentially interchangeable titles, characters and plotlines – what I’ve always thought of as “The Monoliths”).
    The result, as I remember, was plummeting audience share for TVNZ, their ratings absolutely dived.
    Then in 2007, TVNZ brought Duff back in as their consultant in news and current affairs – leading Richard Griffin to tell The Listener “…I’m horrified they would bring someone in with absolutely no experience, background, capacity or understanding of news and current affairs…I’m at an absolute loss; It’s the blind leading the incoherent.”

    • So, without wanting to sound in any way misogynistic, here, I can’t help wondering if our TV woes have at least to some extent been caused by the sheer self-indulgence of a group of middle-aged “growing old disgracefully” forty and fifty-something Boomer women ? I’m thinking of long-term chief programmers like Bettina Hollings and Annemarie Duff.

      The dearth of current programmes with appeal to a mature, thinking audience can hardly laid at the feet either Bettina Hollings or Annemarie Duff. TVNZ’s general manager of programming, Jane Wilson, has been in the job since 2004 and still has some years to go before she reaches her 40th birthday. Having spent six years on the board of NZ on Air, I’m aware of many of the proposals turned down by TVNZ. Some of them were for programmes you’d kill to watch. If there’s a problem with the decision making, it lies with the concentration on youth, rather than age.

  10. I’ll bet Julie Christie is working on ” Survivor New Zealand Television” as we speak!

  11. I strongly disagree that NZ could not “afford” a “real” public television broadcaster.

    I think it was Tom Frewen who put the cost of an ad-free TV One at approximately $350 million (if I’ve recalled that figure incorrectly, I’m sure Tom will set us straight).

    Let’s assume for the sake of this argument that there are one million television owners in NZ. That means the cost of funding a commercial-free TV One would come in at, roughly, $350 per owner per annum, or $30.00 per month, or $6.75 per week, or just under $1.00 a day.

    Compare this with the subscription about a third of NZ’s TV viewers are currently willing to send to SkyTV – anything between $75 and $100 per month. That’s over a $1,000 per annum.

    The $350 million required to fund a genuine public broadcaster could either be appropriated directly by Parliament, or paid in the form of a Broadcasting License Fee – as we used to do.

    For that money we could again enjoy excellent news and current affairs, intelligent documentaries, our own music and art programmes and thought-provoking local drama.

    Oh, and be properly equipped to play our role as well-informed citizens in a vibrant democratic state.

    Old fashioned, I know – but I’m like that.

    • I strongly disagree that NZ could not “afford” a “real” public television broadcaster.

      I think it was Tom Frewen who put the cost of an ad-free TV One at approximately $350 million (if I’ve recalled that figure incorrectly, I’m sure Tom will set us straight).

      I like the math, Chris, and it’s indeed “doable” if those figures are correct – though I suspect they’re a bit out of date. However, the idea that a government – particularly a National-led one, would impose the broadcasting licence fee again is not credible. The licence fee was deeply resented by the public, and governments are far too pragmatic to reintroduce anything so unpopular. It was also cumbersome and expensive to administer – even without taking account of the thousands of people who just ignored their bills and had to be chased up. So that leaves the money to come out of the consolidated fund, which would lead to outrage that it was being taken away from health, education, social services etc. So it’s just not going to happen without a campaign, and I suspect that not enough people care about quality public service broadcasting to apply the pressure necessary to force a change.

      Much as I like to dream of the channel we need and deserve, I believe that public service television is dead and buried in New Zealand, and unless successive governments are prepared to forgo their dividends they are unreasonable in expecting a broadcaster to do the impossible – provide a public service channel whilst still making a profit.

      Reality has bitten. We’re just being forced to face up to it.

    • Compare this with the subscription about a third of NZ’s TV viewers are currently willing to send to SkyTV – anything between $75 and $100 per month. That’s over a $1,000 per annum. The $350 million required to fund a genuine public broadcaster could either be appropriated directly by Parliament, or paid in the form of a Broadcasting License Fee – as we used to do.

      Well, we’re all agreed we’d love to see a publicly funded non-commercial (or perhaps part-commercial) channel, Chris. But there may be a small fly in the ointment of your argument. That is that tens of thousands of Kiwis are already paying for Sky and certainly won’t want to have to pay for a public service channel on top of that. And the reason they have Sky – the reason Judy and I have Sky – is that we can watch a range of excellent channels, including information, news, comedy, movies, arts, sport, politics, debate etc. without commercials (or hardly any) and have the ability to record and store any of these channels with absolute ease (thanks to MySky) and play them back when we like. Not to mention the (disgraceful) fact that Sky is the only place where we can watch our national sportsmen and women in action live.

      I’m not of course saying that I approve of this. I don’t. Television broadcasting in New Zealand has in effect been highjacked by Sky and it’s only going to get worse. But there’s no denying the attractiveness in terms both of programmes and of the viewing experience that Sky has to offer. Heavens, “live pause” would be enough to make it worthwhile.

      Yours in sadness. BE

  12. “Curiuosly I thought TVNZ prgraming was better before the charter; that’s what happens when woolly minded old ladies like Marion Hobb meddle. When I came to NZ in 1987 there were concerts on Sunday afternons, there was high quality drama on Sunday nghts, there were stimulating current affairs. It’s all disappeared. “

    1987 was the last year in which TVNZ was a genuine public broadcaster under the BCNZ umbrella (with RNZ). In 1988 the BCNZ was abolished and TVNZ became a SOE with the sole mandate to operate commercially and make a profit for its shareholders. NZOA, with the broacasting fee, would pay for local programs. The rot started 20 years ago, and I despair at the lack of decent programming on New Zealand television (both international and local). Personally I find that there are only a small amount of shows worth watching on TV today (admittedly one of those is Shortland Street). And reality TV, I really absolutely hate it. Julie Christie has had a big role to play in the dumbing down of television in this country.

    The advent of Freeview and TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 have been the sole (if small) saving grace, and I have to confess I am a bit worried about their future beyone 2011.

    Like Chris, I think a public service broadcaster is doable in this country. However I think we need to think about selling TVNZ (TV1 and TV2) as a way of paying for it.

  13. … and furthermore, it feels like the ‘dumbing down of NZ’ … trash journalism in our mainstream papers, trash women’s magazines … and there we go like small earnest children mindlessly singing advertising jingles while sucking on saturated fats and gasping in horror at TW’s infidelities.
    GIGO: Garbage In – Garbage Out: that’s us, whole generations intentionally programmed with shallow soundbites and addiction to materialism and gossip.
    Shame on our elected representatives for handing us over to advertiser indoctrination, then agonising about our level of personal debt and deteriorating physical and mental health … it’s a self fulfilling prophecy.
    If you’re a recent TV programmer or Minister of Broadcasting in NZ, then you’ve clearly earned the GIGO badge of achievement for disservice to population IQ.

  14. Ad Free does not equate necessarily to good quality programmes. I repeat my point that ABC may be ad free but the programme quality is appalling. Look at the BBC TV schedules and you will see even that august brodcaster has had to sink to the lowest common denominator.

    I think it is also worth making the point that TV should not be such a central part of our lives. There is a vast amount of stimulating material on radio – local and international. For current affairs why does one need talking heads? If one like drama there are ecelllent DVDs as there are for music if you must have pictures, although CDs do just as well. You will also find great radio drama

    If all else fails there are books; millions of them waiting to be read. Thousands of authours waiting to be annoyed because we borrow their books from the library.

    Why do we bother about TV?

    • Ad Free does not equate necessarily to good quality programmes.

      That’s quite correct. But there are two separate issues here. Commercial television where the broadcaster is driven by the need to sell audiences to advertisers will inevitably lead to lowest common denominatior programming. That is at least not inevitable with non-commercial ‘public service’ broadcasting. The second issue is the annoying and disruptive nature of the ads themselves, particularly in narrative style programmes – movies, drama and some documentaries. Ad breaks destroy such programmes.

      Yes, it would be great if people listened to the radio, read books and did all the things you suggest. But it’s really a counsel of perfection. The telly provides entertainment without effort and that appears to be what people want.

      • Ad Free does not equate necessarily to good quality programmes.

        And ads don’t necessarily equate to poor quality programmes. It’s the competition that drives down the IQ factor. In the early days of NZ television, when there was first one channel, then two, both owned by the state broadcaster, the quality of programmes in peak viewing time was arguable much better. The ad breaks were shorter, there were fewer of them, and some played between programmes, thus leading to fewer breaks in the programmes themselves – one break every half hour, then later one every quarter hour. It was only when TV3 came into the equation that the scramble for ratings began in earnest. Down hill from thereon, I’m afraid.

  15. Excellent blog, JC. Thoroughly enjoying this thread.

    Why would anyone want to buy TVNZ? The business model is tracking from failing badly towards hopelessly $$poked$$. Little comfort that his seems to be true in many parts of the world.

    “The telly provides entertainment without effort and that appears to be what people want.”
    Well, with only a very little effort, my own 42″ LG will be showing tonight episode three of the Stephen Fry’s latest series of QI, and episodes 6 & 7 of The Thick of It. Lord knows when, if ever, they’d be broadcast here.

    Cheers!

  16. Ben
    ” ABC may be ad free but the programme quality is appalling.”
    Because the selection of programmes available on ABC are populist and non-elitist doesn’t mean they need to be mindless pap, which is what we are offered currently.
    I would happily pay a license fee to have this choice

  17. “The telly provides entertainment without effort and that appears to be what people want.”

    That goes to the heart of the matter. If the people want entertainment without effort then the people can hardly complain when that is exactly what they get. It is a truism and a cliche to say that anything in life that is obtained without effort is worthless.

    For those who want something more demanding and satisfying there are as I have suggested real alternatives.

    Baz I do not knw if you have watched ABC TV but it is no improvement on what TVNZ offers and in some ways is worse.

  18. The current dreck that’s being served up — saturated with ad-breaks — is either a true reflection of our actual tastes in programmes, or it’s an indictment on TVNZ for presuming it’s what we want to see. In other words, are TVNZ just catering to the viewers’ needs, or are they actually defining that ‘need’ for us. The choice is yours, dudes.

  19. Ads between programmes and not during is quite acceptable to me . I now watch my sky and only for specific broadcasts ,sport etc ,do I watch as its broadcast tv.The nature of tv as we have known it and wouldnt it be more acceptable to have an on demand public broadcast service rather than the existing format.Public broadcast for me means in depth unbiased analysis of topics rather than heat of the moment attention grabbing.

    • Quite agree with most of that, pjr. MySky is certainly a boon and you can watch quite a few TVNZ and TV3 programmes ‘on demand’. Can’t totally escape the ads even there though.

  20. I’ve never understood why, if we can’t afford a whole public television service, we don’t franchise part of the current TVNZ channel out for public broadcasting. Sort of like London Weekend television. TV One (privatised) could, for example, broadcast from Sunday 7pm to Friday 7pm then “TVNZ” (public broadcaster) would transmit over the rest of the weekend – 48 hours of commercial free public broadcasting.

    If the quality of programs is any indication no one important or valuable is regarded as watching TV anyway over the weekend. But less flippantly, such a system would allow for some sort of proper news and current affairs, maybe an interview like “Agenda” at a decent time, without having to run an entire, 24x7x365 public broadcasting service.

    • This would certainly answer the argument that we can’t afford public service TV. Now wait for the wails about sports/sports advertising/sports sponsorship etc! But it’s an option that should be explored. Who knows? If the channels found out that people actually like to watch some in depth programmes, they might decide that they’re commercially viable.

  21. “Now wait for the wails about sports/sports advertising/sports sponsorship etc!”

    The thing about franchising would be it could be on the cheapest 48 hours of the week. If that was Monday 7pm to Tuesday 7pm then do that, whatever.

    You could even use an existing TV company – say Maori TV – to run the franchised service under the different TVNZ brand as part of a funding deal with the government if that was cheaper than running a dedicated service.

    Finally, such a model could be made even cheaper if the opportunity for regional breakout shows for such currently semi-moribund stations like Television Hawke’s Bay or Southland TV were incorporated into the schedule. This would fill a obvious need giving locals, say, an hour a week for a regional magazine show on a channel they are familiar with.

    • You could even use an existing TV company – say Maori TV – to run the franchised service…

      And my bet would be that Maori TV would leap at the chance. You wouldn’t believe how economically MTS is producing some of its programmes. They’ve been given an ultra-lean budget to work with, and they’re turning out great programmes on it – and managing to do it without grizzling about money.

  22. Bloody hell, BE and JC !!!, you’ve just turned-up as bold as brass on page 23 of my Listener !!!. You shy, reclusive things, you.

    • Bloody hell, BE and JC !!!, you’ve just turned-up as bold as brass on page 23 of my Listener !!!. You shy, reclusive things, you.

      Amazing where you can find shrinking violets, isn’t it?

  23. I would happily give up our subscription to My SKY if only TV1 or even TV3 would stop pandering to the lowest common denominator regarding programming – I’ve long given up on TV2. They have their viewer demographics and good on them. I well recall in the mid 1970’s when TV1 and TV2 were competing for viewers with news etc – TV2 were much superior then – probably due to John Hawkesbury! I would dearly love to see in-depth scrutiny of some of the political decisions recently being made. Apparently TV3 have lured Stephen Parker back from the bosom of Gerry Brownlee to a proposed Seven Days type programme for next year – here’s hoping we may get some indepth scrutiny. I always thought SP looked most uncomfortable when caught on screen with GB. I also feel that TV3 were always a bit more adventurous with their programming a few years ago, only to have TVNZ gazumping them with a similar type programme – and of course the great unwashed lapped it up, simply because it was spewing forth from TVNZ and they just simply couldn’t be wrong. My late mum used to think Philip Sherry nearly walked on water when he was a TVNZ news reader, but was useless when he read the news on TV3!!

  24. Woops BE – I forgot to mention ‘Gallery’ which was simply the MUST WATCH doco of the week – in gloriously black and white!

  25. Jill “I would happily give up our subscription to My SKY if only TV1 or even TV3 would stop pandering to the lowest common denominator regarding programming”

    What is it with seemingly intelligent people that they can get so exercised on what is or is not on TV?

    As BE has already said, people want to be entertained without effort. That is just what TVNZ and TV3 are doing; responding to public taste. You may not like it, BE and JC may not like it, I do not like it, but that is what the bulk of the audience wants. It does not want to be challenged or have to think. Get over it and find something else to do with your life instead of fretting about the dross on TV. It’s called self help.

    Apart from Rugby (the love of Mr Edward’s life) I barely watch TV and am much happier for the experience. I would also suggest, Jill that most of Sky programming is hardly pitched at the intellectual end of the spectrum.

  26. In defence of TVNZ’s programming, there’s an unmistakable singularity to most of TV viewers — vapid. Nothing sums this up, more, than when Judy Bailey was widely regarded as “The Mother of the Nation”. Because she happened to emote during her – autocue – news reading. Worse still, her voice just grated; with a discordant screech redolent of a prolonged fingernail-scratching of a classroom blackboard. Awful. But everyone just lapped it up.

    Let’s not forget: NZ is widely regarded as a “nation of sheep and dairy farmers”. And it’s a fact of life that this ‘agrestic’ heritage becomes manifest with our TV-viewing preferences as well.

    • Couldn’t disagree more about Judy Bailey, Merv. When she started to read the news solo, she really hit her straps. She had authority and dropped the “emoting” that seems to be part of a tandem news presentation. And I don’t know which female newsreaders you’re currently admiring, but I’d rate Jude’s skills against any of them – and her voice. The pervasive New Zealand nasal twang is pandemic amongst newroom staff, particularly females.

  27. Yep, I’m with JC on this one. Judy Bailey was infinitely preferable.

    Current TVNZ/TV3 newsreaders are irritatingly high-voltage and perky in the most obviously contrived/rehearsed/mannered way. This is what happens after 20 years of American marketing consultants – TV Dumb. For some reason, Wendy Petrie seems to especially irritate me – I tend to think of her as ‘The Remuera Party Girl’. I always get the feeling she simply has no real interest in any of the news she’s actually reading. Like it’s all going completely over her head. It’s almost as if your highly-excitable, boy band-loving teenage daughter’s somehow landed a job reading the news. Hilary Barry aint much better, especially when she editorialises.

    And then, of course, there’s Simon Dallow’s attempts at “spontaneous” humour…

    I REALLY, REALLY don’t want the newsreaders to pretend to be our best friends, to pretend we’re all sitting in the same room together, laughing uproariously over coffee – I JUST WANT THE NEWS !!! – is that too much to ask ?

    • Current TVNZ/TV3 newsreaders are irritatingly high-voltage and perky in the most obviously contrived/rehearsed/mannered way.

      That’s an interesting effect of tandem news presentation. One person reads the news straight, two people turn into an act.

      So you get Simon and Wendy and Jim and Whoever-is-on-sports-that-week and a parcel of kids in the form of chirpy young reporters – a happy little family who call each other by their nicknames and comment on damn near everything instead of just telling us what happened. It’s supposed to make the audience feel engaged and included. It may work with some people. There are many others who are irritated beyond belief by this vaudeville.

  28. Not, incidently, that I’ve got anything against “Remuera Party Girls”. In fact, they sound quite sexy, even if slightly vacant. It’s just I don’t necessarily want them reading something quite as important or serious as the news.

  29. Well, that was a good 20 minutes of my day, wasted.

    Much of my so-called “facts” weren’t “pure fantasy” at all. It was meant to be metaphoric and a bit tongue in cheek; an illustrative literary device to express my measured disdain towards certain TVNZ people. I thought, you would’ve recognised that. No one gets deleted from my Christmas card list.

    No need to say “sorry”, Judy. Most of the postings could best be described as “prosaic” and “safe”. I think, you want your blog to be the exclusive preserve of those intellectual types who can boast university degrees etc. Someone, such as myself, who writes more on a visceral plane, isn’t really welcome. Candour is distilled to become “defamation”, maybe?

    • Better to be prosaic and safe than sued, Merv.

      We’re happy to host anyone’s views on the site, but when disdain becomes defamation, when visceral slides into actionable, then we will use our editorial judgement and err on the side of caution.

  30. I have recently returned to NZ after 14 years in Australia and have been in broadcasting for some 20 years…..(ouch). Ben has made mention of the ABC in Australia but there is another “Government” channel being the SBS – it operates under the hybrid model of public / commercial broadcaster, has a national footprint and has some fantastic and thought provoking content. SBS broadcasts on radio in 68 languages, has translated from over 350 languages content from all around the world into English for television and also was one of the initial players in the web space in the Australian market. The ABC also manages a national radio network – similar to RNZ.

    SBS does receive government funding but it is also permitted to gather advertising revenue but there are strict rules around placement and the channel is limited to 5 minutes per hour on TV.

    Someone also mentioned about promotions – used correctly, they can be a useful tool; it is really up to the broadcaster to understand that if they place promotions around programming that points to content of a similar nature, they are more likely to raise the audience awareness of the content.

    As a busy working mother, when I get to watch TV or I am just so exhausted and in “VAPID” mode, it is sometimes how I find out about some great programming – I don’t have time to read the Listener, TV Guide or pour through the EPG on Sky, Free view or TiVo.

    In fact, the TiVo has a great tool, well documented on the US sites, that has a predictive algorithm that learns what you like and makes suggestions, there have been some absolute pearlers that have come up – yes they were buried in the schedule but were worth viewing.

    Finally – having worked within TVNZ and with Maureen Sinton, Glenn Usmar and Bettina Hollings – I can honestly say that they worked extremely hard to strike the right balance in their programming choices and it is hard to please everybody all the time……

    • Ben has made mention of the ABC in Australia but there is another “Government” channel being the SBS – it operates under the hybrid model of public / commercial broadcaster, has a national footprint and has some fantastic and thought provoking content.

      SBS is the channel we watch most when we’re in Australia. However, I have to say that it has changed markedly over the years. A concentration on sports these days which seems quite out of character and sits awkwardly with the rest of its programming. I suspect the hand of Shaun Brown in this.

  31. “Better to be prosaic and safe than sued, Merv.”

    Oh, yeah, while I’m still here: my very best piece was binned. Part of me just died, then.

  32. The Commercial TV “Channel” model in NZ ( Chs 1 & 2 )is now effectivly “dead meat” and it is time for the government to move out of the commercial “broadcast” business and to start investing NZ on Air money directly into producing New Zealand programs.
    Once devoid of the news and current affairs responsability that Commercial channel ownership brings, NZ on Air needs to procure its own production facilities (studios) and start using its own funding and facilities to produce NZ programs for local broadcast as well as home and for overseas sales.
    These programs could be shown on a cheaply purchased UHF “local” network ( eg Triangle stratos )which would show only NZ on Air made programs commercial free between say 12 Midday and 12 midnight.
    The idea is to completely shed the expensive 24hr,”News, current affairs” and “Channel promotion” responsabilities of the previous commercial incarnations leaving these areas up to the “commercial chanels” exclusivly.
    Simply concentrate on “cheaply” making and broadcasting locally made programs,created by local producers, made by local crews and directly funded by “NZ on Air” money. This simple and direct use of NZ on Air money would ensure full “accountability” and the “continuity” of local crew skill bases.
    As well as the above, a free to Air, NZ only content, commercial free UHF network would provide a very attractive alternative for viewers to “Commercial Programming” and this would pressure the remaining commercial broadcasters to buy their own “local” content very likely through the NZ on Air local production conduit described above.
    In this simple way NZ on Air money could go directly to our screens and to our people far better reflecting our country than ever before, as well as overseas sales revenue directly returning to the taxpayer and not to purely commercial revunue streams.
    Owning expensive commercial channel outlets in NZ is now simply a dead duck business to be a part of.Its time to divest ourselves of bloated commercial channel overheads and get back to simple “bang” for your “buck” bums on seats TV.

    • The idea is to completely shed the expensive 24hr,”News, current affairs” and “Channel promotion” responsabilities of the previous commercial incarnations leaving these areas up to the “commercial chanels” exclusivly.
      Simply concentrate on “cheaply” making and broadcasting locally made programs,created by local producers, made by local crews and directly funded by “NZ on Air” money. This simple and direct use of NZ on Air money would ensure full “accountability” and the “continuity” of local crew skill bases.

      NZ on Air money does not go into news and current affairs programming. The idea of a purely New Zealand channel is appealing, but there always has to be broadcaster buy-in before a programme is funded. Otherwise the limited funding is wasted on programmes that will never go to air, worthy or not. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as really cheap local production – it’s always cheaper to buy overseas product. And you’d need to take care that we didn’t lose the quality drama and documentaries that always come at a fairly fierce price. NZ producers aren’t making a mint on this, by the way – quite the contrary. Programme making is labour intensive and costs a mint. No-one makes a lot of money in this business.

  33. Corporate priorities are no longer the publics priorities, hence the huge miss to hits ratio of recent NZ on Air programs. Our money is being wasted on the now totally Corporate concept of “good” programming and we are far better served by a direct funding and cheap replay scenario,aka “Triangle TV”.This Corporatism is also the reason behind the total loss of all mainstream Journalism on TV over the last few years.Corporate agendas are not the viewing publics agendas any more no matter how much they paint them up to be, and we now need another model that serves the public programming ethos and not the Corporate agenda, such as the independant UHF transmission model I suggested. The mainstream broadcast model is dead and needs to be buried. Change is needed, not more of what simply doesn’t work and is a total waste of our dollars.

    • Our money is being wasted on the now totally Corporate concept of “good” programming and we are far better served by a direct funding and cheap replay scenario,aka “Triangle TV”.

      Paul, I agree with you in part. One of the frustrations for NZ on Air is trying to ensure that a) public money is spent on programming for the public which commercial networks wouldn’t normally fund and b) getting it broadcast at a civilised hour. This is an on-going battle. Major dramas and documentaries receive most of their funding from NZOA – the broadcaster pays only a fraction of the price. The networks generally contribute nothing towards children’s programming and minority interest programming.

      If any of these programmes were to be made for channels like Triangle TV they’d be available to only a fraction of the population, and this is something NZOA has always resisted – it has a policy of 90% coverage before public money goes into it.

      Triangle has always been welcome to re-broadcast many NZOA-funded programmes ad infinitum free of charge. It wouldn’t play them. It insisted on being paid to broadcast NZ-made programmes. Instead it plugged into overseas networks like Deutsche Welle to fill its unfilled air time. Go figure! Unless the policy has changed since I was on the NZOA board, this is still a problem for NZ viewers who would like to see replays of the programmes they have paid for.

      I have continuing hopes of TVNZ6. Am I being naive?

  34. With a combined profit of 1.9 million last year the government owned Channel model is in huge financial trouble.A “no news” NZ on AIR owned UHF broadcast network would be cheaper to run and freeview would allow full coverage. The NZ Govt also badly needs to be now providing a Deutsche Welle type NZ Tourism Channel “free” to the whole world purely for marketing NZ as a realistic tourist destination.
    So to me we now need a NZ govt funded free to the World “Tourism” Chanel originating from and fed by a “NZ on Air” owned UHF freeview network which broadcasts NZ only programming to NZ commercial free. The two ideas feed into and off each other and cost far less money that we are currently spending.Plus we get our Nation out to the world in a far more intensive way than “Lord of The Rings or Shortland St” ever can. It is a big step but it has to be the next one we take otherwise we are simply burning money and going no where fast.

  35. Makes me want to weep.

    Sorry, Merv, I’m not putting this one up on the site – we’d rather not have a pack of defamation writs for the new year. Not sure where you got your information, but I’d strike that source off your Christmas card list if I were you. Many of those “facts” are pure fantasy.