Brian Edwards Media

TVNZ exchanges current-affairs for a mess of pottage at 7pm

tvnz.co.nz

[On the same day that this post was published TVNZ's Head of News and Current Affairs, Ross Dagan, resigned. Spooky eh?]

I think it was my good friend Joe Atkinson who coined the term ‘morselisation’ to describe what began to happen to news and current affairs programmes in this country from around 1989 when real competition for viewers and the advertising dollar arrived with the launch of TV3. The term reflected the view of television executives that viewers had a limited appetite for serious current affairs programming and could only handle information if it was served up to them in bite-sized chunks. News items consequently got shorter; the 15-second sound-bite shrank to 5 seconds; and long-form interviews were relegated to the advertising-free viewer wasteland of Sunday morning.

If you were so ungenerous as to point any of this out, the executives would remind you of Holmes and later Close Up and Campbell Live, top-rating current-affairs programmes which they broadcast in prime time.

My own view was that these were actually magazine programmes with a heavy emphasis on ‘infotainment’, not least in the confrontational styles of their host/ interviewers. 

The norm for these shows was to have three items in each 30-minute programme. 10 minutes per item – sounds not too bad. But if you take out the commercials you’re left with about 22 minutes. And at least another minute for titles, end credits, the host’s opening and closing etc.  That’s a generous 21 minutes which happily divides by three into 7 minutes per item.

Now I can tell you that you can ask quite a lot of an interviewee in 7 minutes. But what is almost impossible to do is resolve a contentious issue in a 7-minute interview.

What is totally impossible to do is to reach any form of resolution in a 3-header – host/proponent/opponent – debate on a contentious issue. Which is why the late lamented Mark Sainsbury was compelled to wrap up most of his debates with the words, ‘I’m sorry, we’ve run out of time.’ He hadn’t actually  ‘run out of time’ at all; his masters had simply chosen to allocate only one third of the available programme time to the debate, leaving 14 minutes for the de rigueur human interest story and the item on the world’s longest sausage roll. Bite-sized chunks, you understand.

It now turns out that these were actually the good old days. Close Up is to be replaced by Seven Sharp. It’s probably unfair to review a programme which has yet to be broadcast, but the omens really aren’t looking good.

First, the programme space is to be shared by three presenters, not occupied by one. I’m a huge fan of Ali Mau; I think Jesse Mulligan is brilliant; and Greg Boyed is an interviewer. But Ali, Jesse and Greg all together, sharing 22 minutes of…. Well, goddammit, of what?

I’m indebted to the Herald’s John Drinnan who has fossicked out some of the answers:

‘… a marketing source said the show would be built around short, sharp segments and be heavily oriented towards social media such as Facebook and Twitter… A marketing source said that while Close Up was broken up into three segments, Seven Sharp might have up to eight short “bites” or segments with up to five people on the panel.’

Warning! Smaller bite-sized chunks may leave some viewers hungering for something more substantial.

But can we really trust an unnamed ‘marketing source’? Here’s what TVNZ Head of News and Current Affairs, Ross Dagan, had to say:

Seven Sharp will reflect the day’s events with smart thinking, different viewpoints and plenty of laughs along the way.’

He added that the content would not be a continuation of stories from One News which were best covered in the news hour. The programme would have a ‘conversational tone’ similar to the Holmes show, and its focus would be on current affairs and would include interviews.

To summarise: Three presenters, panel of five, eight short bites, smart thinking, different viewpoints, plenty of laughs along the way, nothing that was on the news, conversational tone, focus on current affairs, will include interviews.

Confused? Well no more confused than the show’s hosts who, according to one TVNZ insider, reported by Rachel Glucina less than a week ago, ‘still have no clear direction about the show.’

Well, I think I can help them there. On a night when there are ‘eight short bites’ you will have 2.75 minutes per short bite in which to pursue any of the ingredients listed above including focusing on current affairs and conducting interviews, ‘in a conversational tone’ of course.

Oh hell, let’s call a spade a spade. You won’t be on a current affairs show at all. TVNZ has abandoned even the remnants of current affairs it had at 7 o’clock in favour of a light entertainment show. Time to brush up on the old soft-shoe-shuffle perhaps?

As I write this, the Herald is running an on-line poll asking readers which television programme they’re likely to watch at 7 o’clock. It’s totally unscientific of course, but so far the votes are running as follows: Seven Sharp 7%, Shortland Street 14%, Campbell Live 18%, something else 21%, ‘I’ve got better things to do than watch TV at that time’ 40%.

Most of that 40% are lying of course. But I’m pretty sure Campbell Live will be the big winner out of all this. And justly so. John has brought no-holds-barred,  campaigning, investigative journalism back to our screens. He should have no competition from this mess of pottage.

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38 Comments:

  1. It seems to be especially daft that they seem to be targeting the ‘younger demographic’ whom, one might argue, are well provided for with Shortland Street and John Campbell. Older folk should now shuffle off to bed at 7om? I still intend to stay up for Shortland Street,

  2. And already TVNZ Head of News and Current Affairs, Ross Dagan is leaving to go work for Channel 9 in Aus, so even less clear direction will be available for these little bites of so called News bites.
    The informed used twitter already, so why even go and watch recycled twitter news, where is there point of difference.
    I’m ex Radio, TVNZ and Mediaworks, it seems they have learnt nothing over the last 30 years, KISS ( Keep It Simple Stupid and don’t fiddle with what works.

  3. Brian, c’mon, you ‘know’ it’s all about selling advertising space, these days. The ‘good ole’ days are gone. TV is competing for the takeaway, on the go market. If you really think about it, how could even a skilled interviewer conduct an in-depth interview with the likes of John Key and produce anything of real substance? Gloss maybe, but nothing substantial. The world has changed but some things stay the same, you still can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

  4. I am one of the 40% and I am not lying.

  5. I haven’t watched TVNZ except for occasional “Sunday” for years so won’t notice any difference to me.

  6. The Head of News and Current Events at TVNZ thinks that there’s a news ‘hour’? There’s no such thing. There’s ‘news’, adverts, weather (now and to come, both usually wildly inaccurate)more adverts, sports, adverts again. And even with all that Sport and Weather in there the top ‘news stories’ are usually either sports or weather. The news ‘hour’ would be lucky to be 10 minutes. Who would waste their time with this garbage when the best of the world’s media is a click away?

  7. Fair post. This programme “Seven Sharp” does not sound that great. We need public service broadcasting with a renewed focus on the highest quality of news and current affairs. Entertaining news shows have their place, but are suitable as a weekly slot on a Saturday or Sunday.

  8. Looks to me, as cynical as I am, that this new format provides the ideal means to inject advertorial and product placement directly into the “news”.

  9. “Campbell Live” is trivial, mawkish, sanctimonious rubbish – but it will look serious and substantial compared to this crappy “Seven Sharp” format by all accounts. The irony is that Close Up typically rated at over double the audience of Campbell Live – and the petty-minded decision makers of TV1 have just handed TV3 a ratings gift – for free.

    BE: Campbell Live is none of the things you say it is. There has been absolutely nothing trivial, mawkish or sanctimonious about Campbell’s exposure of the Minister of Education’s total cock-ups in the area of Christchurch school amalgamations and closures after the eartquake or his coverage of the Novopay disaster. I can only assume your comments reflect your personal politics, as no doubt mine do to some degree.

  10. Most of your respondents seem to naively think that ‘news and current affairs’ programs are about news and current affairs. Only Kat has it right. Ever since the eighties and the classification of TVNZ as an SOE under the SOE Act (this happened in 1988 as I recall) so-called public television has been driven by a statutory requirement to pay a dividend as its primary purpose. What did people think was going to happen as a result? Advertising is king and only programs in any field which produce maximum revenue are going to get a look in. Anyone who has read the transcript of evidence of the Treasury submission to the Broadcasting Royal Commission of 1986 will not find recent developments in the least surprising. Welcome to world of the total commodification of culture.

    BE: Tony, you’ll find a number of posts on this site saying exactly what you’ve just said. But I think it misses the point in the context of the departure of Close Up and the arrival of Seven Sharp. Only Q & A and The Nation, both marginalised in early morning weekend time-slots, offer discursive interviews and documentary style examinations of current issues. In general you would not have found that sort of material on Holmes, Campbell Live or Close Up. The reason for that has been the networks’ fear of driving viewers (and advertisers) away with what they saw as ‘boring’ topics. But on all three programmes there was at least some examination of the political and social issues of the day. More recently Campbell Live has engaged in real advocacy journalism on behalf of the people of Christchurch and the education sector. And the programme has devoted more time to the examination of those issues. What’s new here is the overt abandonment by TVNZ of anthing that could remotely be called ‘current affars’ in the 7pm slot. It’s all about ratings and advertising, as you rightly say, though that may prove to be a miscalculation. Kia has already abandoned the programme. The best you could say, I suppose, is that the pretence that this will be anything other than infotainment is gone.

  11. 7 o’clock was, until this week, QI in this household. Our intellects and laughter were always stretched. But it seems to have gone. Now it will be out in the garden for us and later, as the evenings darken, perhaps a doco to fill in the time.
    Now that TV7 has vanished, thank God for Choice TV!

  12. QI’s departure lamented in our house too… it has been moved to Mondays at 9.05pm

    The assessment of 2.75 minutes per item is generous. The space of time between “Welcome back …. and … coming up after the break we speak with a talking horse” seems to get shorter and shorter. Not only that but when there is an item the studio intro is often immediately repeated in the item.

  13. “the term ‘morselisation’ to describe what began to happen to news and current affairs programmes in this country from around 1989 ”

    Should these changes to ‘news and current affairs’ be termed crumbleisation?

    Or just plain crumby?

  14. Here’s an idea I know you as the last bastion of journalism will love Brian, rather than pick over rumour and speculation why don’t we wait till Seven Sharp goes to air before we “review” it.

    BE: I think I made that point in the post, Raewyn. But, as Executive Producer of the show, I can quite understand your displeasure. The trouble is that the bits and pieces of information about the show that have emerged from TVNZ are so contradictory that commentators like myself are left scrabbling to make sense of it all. And today you have the Head of News and Current Affairs walking away after less than a year in the job. As I said, in terms of what I would regard as quality current affairs, the omens are not good. And the history of both major channels in this area argues against it. What you also need to understand is that if Seven Sharp turns out to be a great entertainment show, I’ll definitely be recording it on MySky to watch later without the commercials. In terms of TV taste, I’m a total pleb. My absolutely most favourite programme is Graham Norton. An underrated interviewer by the way! Cheers. Brian

  15. Could it be Brian, that you are simply no longer the target audience for this time slot…and that your idea of current events is no longer either current or an event for those folk for whom a heavy orientation towards social media is more relevant?

    BE: Could be, Peter. I tend to regard both Twitter and Facebook as ‘anti-social’ media, whose effect has been to alienate us from one another rather than to bring us closer. I’ve just been reading a fascinating book of essays and speeches by Johanthan Franzen titled Farther Away. In the first of these essays he looks at the redefinition of words such as ‘like’ and ‘friend’ which is one outcome of the ever-increasing impact of these so-called ‘social’ media. Texting and email have similarly increased the volume of communication between human beings while decreasing the quality of the communication. That’s how I see it anyway.

  16. >”‘I’ve got better things to do than watch TV at that time’ 40%.

    >Most of that 40% are lying of course. ”

    Actually Brian, unless you’re taking issue with the phrase “better things”, they’re not lying. A cursory look at the ratings indicates at present – and it’ll change a little as summer ends etc, only about 1/3 of NZers are actually watching TV at 7pm.

    >”But I’m pretty sure Campbell Live will be the big winner out of all this. And justly so. ”

    Any survey which shows Campbell (which rates a dog at the best of times) trumping the juggernaut of Shortland Street at 7pm shouldn’t be viewed with suspicion, it should be ignored. When Close Up went off air, re-runs of Border Patrol were beating Campbell Live, so whatever you think of Campbell’s journalism, and I don’t have any issue with that, to talk it up into some ratings triumph is unfounded and naive.

    BE: Thanks Damian. I really must stop making these flippant comments. So annoying to the serious mind. It’s just that, when I stopped teaching at Canterbury University in 1967 and began appearing on television instead, my former academic colleagues used to delight in telling me what a lowbrow medium television was and how they never watched it. Remarkably, most of them appeared to know exactly what was happening on Coronation Street. As a result, I tend to be a bit suspicious of the ‘better things to do’ argument.

    I can only hope you’re wrong about Campbell Live. But one mustn’t forget the major role which ‘inheritance’ plays in viewer choice. The influence of the audience rating of the programme which precedes you can be as significant as the quality or lack of quality of the programme opposite you. New Zealanders appear to remain wedded to the idea the One News is the official news broadcast. Whatever follows One News has a considerable advantage over the competition on other channels.

  17. For those of you who have been to Australia recently you may have seen The Project. Seven Sharp seems to be of the same mould. The Project is good viewing but it isn’t current affairs. Thankfully, here we have the ABC and the brilliant Leigh Sales who along with the rest if the team bring quality journalism each night. I’m grateful I have the best of both.

  18. I fear Seven Sharp is looking like it’ll be a regurgitation of the pap served up on Breakfast.

    Campbell Live is “Fox for the Left” – biased as hell – so I won’t be switching over there except perhaps for something of major interest.

    Close Up could have been much improved if TV1 had had the sense, earlier on, to give Paul Henry a serious job as front-man. Sainsbury was too bland and tended toward the tabloid, Henry is a much better interviewer. Unfortunately that opportunity has well gone.

    BE: I haven’t watched much Fox News since the US elections, but to compare Campbell Live to the insane ranting of most of the Fox News hosts seems fanciful to me. As to Campbell being “biased as hell”, you may be overlooking the fact that National is in government at the moment and that governments attract more negative attention than oppositions, since governments are making the decisions and running the show. The two most sign
    ificant issues dealt with on Campbell Live recently have been Hekia Parata’s handling of school closures and amalgamations following the devastation of the Christchurch earthquake, and the fiasco of Novopay. Criticism of this particular Minister’s and her department’s performance has been near universal in the media and entirely justified. It should not be confused with bias. You may also have forgotten the Corngate episode when Helen Clark was Prime Minister. I can assure you that there was no love lost between Campbell and Clark, who took a complaint about him and the programme to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. Many Labour people at the time believed that Campbell was biased against Labour. The truth of the matter is that he was just doing his job then, as he is now. And doing it very well.

  19. Points re ‘govt of the day’ and Corngate granted Brian, perhaps the Fox label is a little extreme. However I still think that, on his shows, John Campbell very much wears his politics on his sleeve.

  20. “Only Q & A and The Nation, both marginalised in early morning weekend time-slots, offer discursive interviews and documentary style examinations of current issues.”

    Yes, but even they can be severely time constrained. The interview segments would be better if fewer, done better.

    And the panel discussions often seem rushed and no more than a quick round of opinions rather than detailed analysis.

    BE: Hmmm. The media segment with Bill Ralston and me on The Nation generally gets about 10 or 11 minutes. It’s confined to that duration because the Saturday edition has ads and the Sunday edition hasn’t. Bill and I are there to fill the empty space. Sad but true. But the remaining 50 minutes have long studio interviews and long documentary style investigations. Q & A has much longer panel discussions, generally following studio interviews. There may be two or three of these in one programme. Reviews of those panels have been mixed.

  21. “John Campbell very much wears his politics on his sleeve.”

    There have been a number of references in the blogosphere to the current restart Campbell promo which people are genuinely mistaking for a Labour election advertisement (including me).

    BE: The theme of the promo, as I recall, is “looking for answers”. I would have thought than an entirely appropriate slogan for any journalist. I suppose Campbell Live could go looking for answers from the Opposition rather than the Government, but since the Opposition has no ability to make significant social or political change for the best part of two years, and considering its job is also to look for answers from the Government, I can’t see that as a very productive approach.

  22. As Damian Christie has pointed out, only 1/3 of the potential audience now watches TV at 7pm. And as Tony Simpson rightly notes, the primary driver for TVNZ is – and has been for some time – delivering eyeballs to advertisers.

    The logical outcome of these two factors would surely be the creation of programming designed to capture as much of the remaining 2/3 as possible. That might be programming that many commenting here (myself included) would find dreadful, but it would deliver an audience.

    So why, then, copy the format of The Project, which has been shifted all over the place between 6 and 7.30, extended to 90 minutes, dropped back to an hour and generally desperately fiddled with while continually under-performing the far-from-scintillating “A Current Affair” and “Today Tonight”, by a factor of at least 2:1 in each case?

    (ref: http://www.digitalspy.com.au/australian-tv/news/a361725/channel-ten-boss-remains-positive-about-the-project-ratings-defeat.html)

    It would seem that the commercial imperative is not to blame so much as the egos of people in television, who will not only flog the proverbial dead horse but clone it because they believe they know better than the 2/3 of their audience who are clearly telling them they do not.

  23. I too lament the loss of QI at 7 pm.Its not a time I usually watch but became addicted to the humour that is QI.I hardly ever watch The News as I get my events content from the Radio.
    This is possibly a step forward (for better or worse) for network tv.The internet ,phones , radio ,mysky,have all impacted on network tvs immediacy and popularity.Whatever your political bent John Campbells show is a worthy current events contender.

    BE: Judy and I are with all you QI fans. Just brilliant and wonderful fun.

  24. Slightly off topic, but for anyone interested in in depth interviews on international news, you can’t go past independent American news site Democracy Now! (www.democracynow.org). For instance, last night I heard a great interview with a reporter from Al Jazerra on what is happening in Mali which gave me in about 15 minutes a broad understanding of what is going on there. There was also a great interview with a former South African MP who is an expert on the international arms trade a few weeks back. It gets absolutely the best interviewees every time and it’s interviewers are superb.

  25. Kat, Tony, et al, have nailed it; it’s about advertising, revenue and paying dividends. If the lowest common denominator attracts viewers, so be it, that is what will be fed to the masses.

    TVNZ is no exception. National demands it’s pound of flesh – preferably in hard currency, if you please.

    In Roman times it was bread and circuses. In our much more ‘sophisticated’ times, it’s burgers and crass tv.

    The result is the Americanisation of our tv (and media) and Americanisation of our electoral system as fewer and fewer people are engaged to vote.

    Correlation?

    I believe there is. An uninformed populace creates low information voters who disengage from the political system, telling themselves they don’t know what each political group stands for.

    A constant diet of crime stories and superficial news coverage will achieve that. Add to that television’s programming consisting of US sitcoms; reality shows; home improvement shows; crime “dramas”; and yet more more crime “news”; and, well, the dye is set for a populace that knows more about Kate and Wills than what National is doing to our education, health, and state housing system…

    And the latest, in the neo-liberal subtle plan to dumb down the mass media; the commercialisation of Radio NZ.

    That will be the final nail driven into the heart; the turning of informed Citizenry into low-information Consumers.

    “Idiocracy” wasn’t so much a satirical sf movie as a road-plan into the future. Civilisation didn’t die with a bang or a whimper but with a glassy-eyed “Duh”…

    And looking at the image at the top of this page, I am reminded of three brightly-dressed quasi-Wiggles for a supposedly “mature” TV audience…

    Flying Spaghetti Monster/God, help us all.

  26. I don’t know that the uninformed will be in a worse space or make worse choices than the misinformed, Frank. At least they know that they don’t know.

    Those who want to be informed have the vast resources of the internet at their finger tips. Commercialisation of Radio NZ will not make a scrap of difference except as the loss of a comforting taxpayer-funded Left-wing voice in the corner of the room for those with nothing else to do.

  27. “Those who want to be informed have the vast resources of the internet at their finger tips.”

    Alan, the internet is a somewhat different tool, for information gathering. It’s no replacement for trained journalists interviewing our elected representatives (when they deign to accept invitations to be interviewed) in a specific location.

    As someone who uses the internet, much of the information is still gleaned from MSM; Radio NZ, tv broadcasters, NZ herald, and the like.

    So if the content of Radio NZ is affected by commercialisation, then using the internet to access it doesn’t change anything.

    As for Radio NZ being ” a comforting taxpayer-funded Left-wing voice” – yes, I’ve heard that rather childish claim before. I guess it’s what National Party supporters bleat on about when their government is held to account. (Though Key very rarely fronts up to Radio NZ interviews. He prefers dancing gangnam style and otherwise goofing around on private radio stations.)

    Is TV3 and John Campbell also a “Left-wing voice”? I’ve heard several of your right wing colleagues suggest as much.

    Funny how the Soviets used to dismiss any criticism of their system as an “American inspired, capitalist conspiracy”. Some folk just don’t take kindly to criticism…?

  28. It matters not what happens to TVNZ, Radio NZ; the uninformed and misinformed will remain in that state. It is a matter of choice if one wishes to remain ignorant. Even if TVNZ put on wall to wall current affairs programmes those who wish to be ignorant will watch another channel.

    For those who wish to know what is going on in the world there are countless resources; one does not even need the Internet. A couple of hours spent in a public library will inform you beter than a years worth of current affairs from TVNZ.

    For all those who bleat about TVNZ, you have no God given right to be entertained or informed by this broadcaster. Try expanding your brains instead of your backsides. Go and find your own entertainment and information. Try putting a bit of effort into it instead of soaking up what you are fed.

    I suspect there is a great deal of cultural elitism at work here. The great and the good think that their choices should be foisted on everyone else.

  29. Frank, it’s not the political “holding to account” that makes RNZ Left-wing – it’s the incessant parade of trade unionists, bureaucrats and left-wing commentators, activists and journalists.

    As the “Moaning Report” and Paul Holmes’ “In-house journal for the Wellington bureaucracy” tags well describe.

    Obviously John Campbell is pretty left wing but at least his show and TV3 in general manages to air differing viewpoints.

  30. Radio nz not only provides excellent political debate(our esteemed host and Michelle Boag).It also provides great musical,scientific,literary,and cultural discourse on any day you care to listen.
    There is always the possibility that the Left is actually Right.

  31. Alan – “Frank, it’s not the political “holding to account” that makes RNZ Left-wing – it’s the incessant parade of trade unionists, bureaucrats and left-wing commentators, activists and journalists.”

    Oh, puh-leese. Perhaps if the likes of Parata, Key, et al from this shabby “government” actually took their responsibilities seriously and FRONTED on Radio NZ, TV3, etc, to be interviewed – then it wouldn’t be so ‘skewed’ to an “incessant parade of trade unionists, bureaucrats and left-wing commentators, activists and journalists”.

    Really, tyou have a bit of a bit of a cheek, Alan. Key very rarely fronts to be interviewed and you have the gall to blame Radio NZ when others make the effort to take part?

    So much for your concept of “taking responsibility”.

    If you want a look at, say, Hekia Parata’s evasion of her ministerial duties, check this out; http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/parata-bennett-and-collins-what-have-they-been-up-to/

    How about you have a word to the politicians you voted for and demand that they front up? Or is that too much too ask? Is it easier just to blame the media because National politicians haven’t the cojones?

    Jeez, Parata couldn’t even be bothered to front when her CEO, Lesley Longstone, resigned. That has to be the most gutless response from a politician since Year Dot.

    At least right wing commentators such as Rodney Hide, Michelle Boag, Matthew Hooton, Stephen Franks, et al have the ncourage of their convictions to appear on Radio NZ to give the Rightwing perspective.

  32. Frank, it will probably surprise you that I agree with your criticism of Parata. However, I think Key fronts a lot and has a long and hard enough day already without obliging every radio station as well.

    Glad to hear RNZ now has some token non-Leftists. Can’t say I’ve ever caught them on it. The snippets I hear seem like the usual Leftist bleatings.

  33. @Alan: “key fronts a lot…….”

    Surely you meant key-boy is more of a stationary front.

  34. Well, there hasn’t really been any real news content on NZ free to air since Stratos went bust and stopped showing Al Jazeera English in the mornings. The NZ media seem to think that we’re all a bunch of meth smoking hayseeds, or at least that’s who they pitch their programs at.

    The new program will likely be dire, but it can’t be worse than Shortland Street which is like an 80s porn movie that’s had all the dirty bits cut out of it.

  35. 35

    Seven Sharp has been done before – it was called Newsnight – they’ve swapped Dallow for Boyed and Lush for Mulligan. It’s far from being a radically new idea – Newsnight was 20 years ago.

  36. Further to my previous comment Brian, about your prediction that Campbell Live would be the big winner out of this, I note last night’s ratings (25-54). With the only competition fron ONE being re-runs of Border Patrol, Campbell Live managed a 2.7. That’s a new low as far as I can tell. The night before wasn’t a lot better. And that’s after a flash new marketing campaign (which I quite like) and a few weeks to get the best stories lined up to launch with.

    By comparison, Border Patrol re-run got a 7.3, Shortland St 14.5.

    I know we can dismiss this with “ratings aren’t the only measure”, or “how accurate are the ratings really”, but as you’ll be well aware, it’s a big measure for those making the decisions, and margin of error numbers like 2.7 will be causing concern, surely.

    BE: Well, that figure would certainly be a cause for concern. It’s also almost unbelievably low, the sort of rating you might expect at 7 or 8am on a Sunday morning. According to Throng, last night Campbell Live had 186,830 viewers which, if it represented only 2.7% of all New Zealanders, would mean that we had a population of almost 7 million people. If it represented 2.7% of all viewers or the available audience between 7 and 7.30, our population would be even higher. Border Patrol on One had 446,580 and Shortland Street 510,430. Campbell live has just returned to our screens and Shortland Street has a dedicated audience locked in to an ongoing soap opera narrative. So perhaps we should let CL bed in a little bit before writing it off.

    The fact is that audience levels through the evening are largely determined by the number of people who watch the news, weather and sport between 6 and 7. These are generally, but not always, the highest ratings for the night. Last night’s 3News attracted 258,820 viewers; One News attracted 619,320 viewers almost 2 and a half times as many as TV3. So it’s not really surprising that Border Patrol, which ‘inherited’ the One News audience did much better than Campbell.

    That said, I’m not sure who came up with the idea of having John stand in the middle of nowhere rather than sit behind a desk. He looks marooned. I’m not sure how he’s going to handle studio interviews. Are he and his guests going to stand face to face? That would be a really dumb idea. Interviewers need to sit forward to communicate with their subjects and the audience at home. Duncan Garner provides the model for effective interviewing posture. And, silly though they may be, we’re going to miss John’s famous ‘camera turns’.

  37. Well said Brian – keep up the good work. Mind you, that may well be because I agree with what you say. Sadly we no longer have any real current affairs on NZ TV since the Government of the day made TV into a profit generating SOE (see Tony Simpson’s analysis). Personally, I have pretty much abandoned TVNZ for news and current affairs for reasons already canvassed. BBC, CNN and even Prime News Australia are much better.
    As for the Sunday morning stuff – it will eventually disappear altogether, with the excuse it does not have an audience – I wonder why?
    Dare one say that even Fox News has more discussion than NZ TV? It may be highly slanted, but at least the items are more than 2.5 minutes.
    Overall, sadly it is all a reflection of society’s almost total obsession with money and other similar seductive pursuits.