Brian Edwards Media

The Campbell Live Debate – A Considered View

Campbell Live

I’ve signed the on-line petition which effectively invites TV3 to abandon its intention to replace Campbell Live with what we now know will be a stripped soap-opera made by Julie Christie’s former company Eyeworks.

What has to be acknowledged straight away is that TV3 is a private company and under no obligation to continue producing a prime-time television programme that is losing ratings and therefore revenue. The channel cannot be asked to produce Campbell Live at a loss or to give it preference over a potentially higher rating programme in the same time-slot.

The dilemma here arises from the fact that Campbell is a public service broadcaster working for a private television network. The fault here lies not with TV3 but with the failure of successive governments to provide New Zealanders with a true public service television channel.  While Campbell continued to rate with TV3’s youngish target demographic, his position was relatively secure. The show, which the channel advertises as “New Zealand’s leading current affairs programme”, has been around for a decade. Not a bad run in anyone’s books. But, under the private broadcasting system, once viewers begin to turn off a programme, its host is likely to be shown the door.   

None of this in any way changes the fact that John Campbell is a superb broadcaster and that to replace his programme with a soap opera will rightly be seen as further evidence of the dumbing down of television programming in New Zealand that has been going on not for one decade but for several.

Why then have I signed the petition? In essence because I see Campbell Live as something more than a television show. Campbell is a change-agent. He has changed the lives of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of New Zealanders for the better, and he has been responsible for changes to institutions and the law that have made New Zealand a better and more just society. That’s one hell of an achievement. And it is a legacy which must not be lost.

That legacy includes:

The extraordinary work done by Campbell on behalf of the citizens of Christchurch during and since the Christchurch earthquake. That work continues until the present day with Campbell acting as a tireless advocate and champion for people still effectively homeless and battling the EQC and their insurance companies for just settlement of their claims.

The extraordinary work done by Campbell on behalf of New Zealand teachers during the Novapay debacle.

The extraordinary work done by Campbell on behalf of Kiwi teachers and children threatened by school closures or amalgamations.

The extraordinary work done by Campbell in raising huge amounts of money for KidsCan to provide breakfast, shoes and raincoats for underprivileged New Zealand schoolchildren.

The “Wish For a Smile” programme, changing the lives of kids with crooked or ugly teeth.

The banning of legal highs, a blight on so many young lives, which was almost entirely brokered by Campbell.

The “caravans of hope” which Campbell used to give often distressed Kiwis the capacity to vent their frustrations directly to the nation.

And, just this week, the abandonment of the iniquitous “zero hours contracts” by a majority of the country’s major fast food companies. Again, entirely Campbell Live’s doing.

You can probably think of several I’ve missed.

Campbell the saint? Campbell the peerless broadcaster? Well, no. That is not the picture I’m trying to paint. Recently aspects of John’s on-screen persona have begun to grate with me and may have begun to grate with others, a possible reason for the programme’s declining ratings. His tendency to gush, his saccharine, mawkish delivery, his over-the-top expressions of happiness , joy and gratitude to his viewers – it’s all a bit too much. On more than one occasion recently I have felt the urge to put my finger down my throat. And that ain’t good!

So what’s to be done?

I think the petition is a good idea, though it has of course no legal status of any sort. But it will at least serve to put TV3 on notice that dumping Campbell for a soap opera may not be entirely sensible.

And if indeed thousands of people do sign the petition, those same people better remember that TV3 will be most impressed by improving ratings. Deserters will have to return to the fold.

And finally, political parties wanting your support  at the next election must be put on notice that a genuine public service television channel is a sine qua non for getting your vote.

Oh, and one more thing: It takes at least a year to get a new soap opera to air. So the question arises: will that be a year’s grace for Campbell Live or will something else take its place? Don’t ask me!

, , , , ,


  1. i have the answer! Get rid of the irksome Hosking and co and transfer public broadcasting Campbell Live to its rightful home -TVNZ. Be fascinating to see what might happen to the ratings!

    • Gerard: TVNZ would the rightful home if it was 1980 :)

    • I think all these programs, including Hosking’s, Paul Henry’s and Paul Holmes for that matter, have a common problem – they are too personality driven and not story driven. They cross the line too far from telling you what happened and into how they think I should feel about it.

      Sooner or later you get tired of that, even if you like the presenter and agree with his apparent overall left or right political philosophy.

      John Campbell is getting a bit stale and if the viewers aren’t there something needs to be done – either revamp it or replace him. I’m a great fan of The Daily Show as the personality format works better with comedy, but even that doesn’t try to sustain 5 shows per week, every week, despite the name.

      For pity’s sake, not another soap opera!

  2. Campbell is light years away from the calibre of Jeremy Paxman but compared to the other NZ ratings chasers he’s as good as broadcast journalism is in NZ.

  3. You’ve been moved to put your finger down your throat Brian. That’s a shame. I have been more inclined to wipe the tear from my eye, because on so many occasions what Campbell has done has moved me. !

    Someone on a blog is saying Campbells ratings were done during the world cup game. If that’s true, it shows just how corrupt our media have become.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with you Brian and I also signed the petition. We deserve better broadcasting especially from our “public” broadcaster.
    Join the the Coalition for Better Broadcasting!

  5. Well put. I’m still waiting for media coverage on how much TV3/Mediaworks has spent on the Paul Henry Show (including Henry’s salary) and what impact that’s had on Campbell Live. Also, when will NZ get reliable TV ratings, as questionable I suggest as TV3’s political polls that rely on people who still have landlines?

  6. I really don’t understand the rational that says television that speaks of social justice is of the past. The trivia on Seven Sharp is timeless crap. All that changes is Hosking’s hairstyle.

  7. Can someone educate me here: obviously (and trivially) TV3 has no legal obligation to continue with Campbell Live, as Brian says.

    But what organisation or group, if any, has a moral obligation to ensure that our nation has a high-quality, vibrant, and effective Fourth Estate (especially via television) that is immune to market failure? I doubt that pro-market governments can be relied upon to serve such obligations.

    Are there any jurisdictions anywhere that entrench such an obligation legally, for example?

    Sadly, the hope that matters will be rectified at the ballot box belongs, in our current milieu, to the category of wishful thinking (as Brian says, the failure lies primrarily at the feet of recent governments).

    • There are organisations that encourage high standards of journalism, but none, to my knowledge, that make such standards a legal requirement. The BSA (Broadcasting Standards Authority) receives and rules on breaches of the Broadcasting Act (fairness, balance, accuracy etc) and has powers to punish radio and TV stations who breach those standards. The Press Council can adjudicate complaints against newspapers and magazines which must publish its findings. It has, to my knowledge, no power to punish.

      • Which is where the Scandinavian media regulatory model comes in. The Scandinavian nations are in the top 10 for press freedom, and yet they still have what could be described as a Press Council/BSA/OMSA system backed up with enforcement powers. In other words, retractions and corrections can’t be buried in page 6 or broadcast as a televised footnote.

    • I should add that there are more than a hundred countries around the world that have public service television. They include Australia, the UK, Ireland, the United States, Canada, most European, South American and Asian countries… You get the picture! New Zealand is an exception among developed nations in not having a state funded public television system.

  8. A well balanced piece, in my view. TV3 are running a business and realistically CAMPBELL LIVE has been failing over the past year to deliver a viable audience. So, a review is warranted and probably change will come. Whilst not a regular viewer of the show I do respect the success the show has had in airing important issues and agree with you that John Campbell belongs on a public broadcasting channel.

    On a broader note TV3 has taken a change in direction this year with a move to more reality programming, probably hoping to achieve the commercial success that NINE and SEVEN are experiencing in Australia with similar reality shows. The move is a brave and risky one and whilst it is early days, so far, the results are not outstanding. Fascinating to follow.

  9. Campbell should stay on the air as he represents thousands of people in the community being New Zealand that aren’t heard. Taking away Campbell live reflects how we value people in this country and the changing instant gratification society we live in. John Campbell has changed lives and continues to touch hearts every night. The management of TV3 are looking forexposure with the recent x factor judges departure and now this …. Why would you take away someone so iconic to the media…..TV3 will lose a huge market if they lose John Campbell and his team …not a smart move

  10. Its unfortunate that Campbell is losing his slot on TV 3.I feel sure that John Campbell will reappear in a new guise fighting for truth and justice.Shame on the networks who continue to dish up mindless crap from the likes of Hosking and Henry.It is time a network was started for the public good.
    It also worries me that this has a polical imperative considering Hosking and Henry’s alliances.

  11. If Campbell Live were being broadcast at 7pm on TV! it would be a ratings blockbuster and deservedly so. Therein lies the problem; a largely brain dead audience that has never learned how to change channels.

    TV1 could show a picture of a baboon’s bum for half an hour (and Mike Hosking is only slightly higher up the evolutionary scale) and it would out rate the opposition channel.

  12. 12

    Unfortunately John Campbell has trodden on too many rich and powerful toes, including those of the National government, and now that the National Party is becoming less popular, it cannot stand criticism of itself or it’s financiers.
    We only have to look at the politics of those with the power to sack him to realise what’s going on.

    • This is exactly the sort of brainless babble I’d expect from a John Campbell disciple. Grow up!

      • Really, John? “Brainless babble”?

        Here are a few examples of critics who have fallen foul of this regime;

        July, 2009

        Natasha Fuller & Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

        Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

        May, 2011

        Jon Stephenson, journalist
        John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

        September, 2011

        Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
        John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan: “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

        October, 2011

        Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
        Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited” from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

        November, 2011

        Robyn Malcolm, actor
        Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspiring-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

        November, 2011

        Bradley Ambrose, journalist/photographer
        Investigated by police after complaint laid by the Prime Minister, over the “Teapot Tape” affair. Ambrose investigated and interviewed by Police. Media office raided. Property seized. Eventually, no charges laid. Government considered seeking costs of $13,669.45 from Ambrose – but eventually decided not to.

        March 2012

        ACC Claimant, Bronwyn’s Pullar’s personal details are leaked to the media and to a right wing blogger, who has been given her full files, emails, etc. ACC Minister, Judith Collins, and her office are implicated.

        November 2012

        Dr Mike Joy, environmentalist, scientist, academic. Attacked by both John Key and right wing “media relations/publicist”, Mark Unsworth, for daring to tell the public the truth about New Zealand’s polluted waterways. On 21 November, Unsworth sent a vicious email to Dr Joy that showed the state of mind of Unsworth to be bordering on unhinged.

        March, 2013

        Annette Sykes, lawyer, activist, President of Mana Party

        When Annette Sykes criticised the appointment of sportswoman Susan Devoy to the role of Race Relations Commissioner, Minister Judith Collins responded with “Annette Sykes is a stupid person”. That’s how National views critics.

        May, 2014

        Katie Bradford, Parliamentary Press Gallery, and TV1 journalist. Judith Collins makes allegations to a TV3 journalist, that Ms Bradford asked the Minister to intervene on behalf of her (Bradford’s) husband to join the police force. This is refuted by Ms Bradford as untrue. Collins later apologised.

        Daring to criticise Key and his cronies invites retribution of some sort. (Mind you, to National/ACT fans, you probably think it is “richly deserved”. No doubt Putin’s supporters think likewise.)

        • Frank Macskasy – That is an excellent response.


          Thanks Frank a shocking list of brave people who have showed courage in telling the truth and paying the price for it.


            Rubbish. If you are going to throw stones expect some to come back at you. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. The comparison with Putin is beyond belief ridiculous.


              The public service was used to throw at least three of the stones. The comparison with Putin is pretty close.
              The National government wants its opponents to “stay out of the kitchen” and it will use any means to scare them off. That fact alone is cause for concern.


                Which three? And if providing information counts as throwing stones then FOI responses are an incessant source of stones thrown at the Government.


          You forgot to mention Cameron Slater. The wheels must surley be falling off the government when he sees fit to run down the PM.

        • Almost a complete list of the disenfranchised and third rate socialists.

          I will leave some of them alone, as they have done enough to discredit themselves, and others have corrected this. However, the more public figures….

          Martin Martyn Bradbury, the genius behind The Party Party’s strategy ,and key adviser to the Internet party, didnt that work well. Also the man on the electoral role twice. He even has his own hate speach blog and manages to turn up to the opening of anti National government envelopes for everything from Mana to unite union.

          Annette Sykes…. Leader of Mana, and prey tell, who are Mana now, the party who did a deal with Devil dotcom and managed to ensure they had no seats. All by themselves, no assistance from any bad national people or others. At least her mate Hone banked the cash and is running round in a nice new powerful 4WD thanks to DotComs coin.

          Katie Bradford, the daughter of supreme leftie Sue. said “No matter what we do, no matter what we say, the polls still favour National” Um, gee Katie, how stupid, and I thought your job was to report factually and truthfully, not barrack and make stuff up for your mothers team.

      • 12.1.2

        Check out Fran O’Sullivan’s “brainless babble” in today’s Herald:
        and remember, you read it here first.


          Farrar’s statistics on media columnists’ biases have really got her knickers in a twist, haven’t they?


            You have to laugh at Farrar’s nerve in poking the borax at others’ supposed biases, though. Pot, kettle much?


              Farrar is open about his. The MSM not so much. If shining light in dark corners is poking the borax so be it.

  13. Agree with your comment that a public service programme is hard to keep inside a privately funded organisation. I’ve been amazed for years at the public service Campbell Live has provided on our screens, instead of TVNZ which in theory should be providing that kind of analysis and journalism.
    Truly hope for a continued home for John and his team – they are a fabulous example of thoughtful, caring and dogged reporting.

  14. 14

    Pretty good summary, Brian.

    I used to watch 3 news and Campbell but got fed up with the level of hype and hysteria from the likes of Campbell, Garner and Gower. I want to see news presented rationally and intelligently, not emoting bias all over the carpet.

    Yes, Hosking has a political bias but it is presented coolly and with humour. Campbell just panders to the Left with his highly selective rants, which is a shame because as Brian illustrates, some of his campaigns were good journalism and worthwhile. Unfortunately his biases just became unwatchable and many potential subjects refused interviews that they did not believe would be edited and presented fairly. Even on his good campaigns you felt you were getting only one side of the story. RIP a good programme ruined by lack of balance.

    • Alan, for ‘highly selective rants’, you can’t do much better than either Hosking or Henry. Both have an inflated sense of their own importance and are only really interested in having that confirmed by others sharing their views. I find that both tedious and condescending. I think I get more balance on Campbell Live – they invite comment and opportunities for discussion in a way that H&H don’t.

      Campbell Live also works on behalf of others, instead of on behalf of a pair of…you know, that word that Mr Henry is now allowed to use.

      • 14.1.1

        You’ve got a point re Hosking – can’t comment on Henry as haven’t watched him. Though since I tend to agree with him I’ve usually but not always found his comments are well founded though I’m not a regular viewer.

        The Left always claim to be working on behalf of others – that is their moral high ground. The problem is that so frequently their means neither justify their ends, nor achieve them.

    • He was just as critical of the Clark administration. When your media content is controlled by those in thrall to the current administration, is the effective outcome any different from state controlled media in countries like China?

      Fragmentation of opposition to those in power is a significant issue facing western democracy. It is very important that we have national media voices who examine, criticise and give a voice to those who oppose those in power. It’s not about left and right, it is about healthy and vigorous debate and critical examination of those in power, left or right.

      • 14.2.1

        Unfortunately in Campbell’s case it is about Left and Right. And he criticised Clark from the POV of the further Left. A healthy debate gives both sides a chance to speak and he doesn’t.

        • Um, while I agree with you re Campbell’s political setting – and as a result those here who like him or love him are simply reflecting the prism through which they view life

          …so what?

          Advocacy journalism has a lomg history. As long as he doesn’t go around broadcasting outright falsehoods I trust the majority of New Zealanders to be able to discern that, and judge the merits of Campbells stories and slant accordingly.

          And whatever else, the loss of a serious prime time discussion on public affairs is regretable.


            I suspect, like me, most of his lost audience is due not so much to the merits of the story as the manner of its presentation (though sometimes I have looked at the programme promo and thought, oh no, half an hour of emoting about nothing new just to fill the slot).

            And having lost the audience surely the issue is why the programme lost its way?


              The programme hasn’t lost its way, New Zealand has. When an idiot like Henry is seen as the big thing at TV3 and a serious journalist like Campbell is given the flick, that much is obvious. You complain about Campbell’s political leanings being toward the left but I suppose you have no problem with Henry and Hosking being right wing through and through and mates of the PM? The right are extremely inconsistent on this. And, anyway, why do you people describe stories that actually help the lives of struggling Kiwis as left wing journalism? It’s not left wing or right wing, it’s journalism with a soul. To the people on the right, having a soul is a bad thing? I don’t want Campbell to keep his job because of my political views,I want him to keep his job because he’s really helping people in need. You have a problem with that? Remind me, do Henry and Hosking ever help anyone?


                Campbell frequently goes far beyond helping those in need to using them to attack the Government. His position was amply demonstrated in his furious but disastrous interview with the PM.

    • Alan – caring for impoverished families and hungry children is “highly selective rants”?!

      Well, bugger me. Did anyone ever tell Jesus about his “highly selective rants”?

      • 14.3.1

        Straw man, Frank.

        • I think Frank makes a perfectly valid point.


            Explain what it is then. That playing fast and loose with selective facts and balance is justified moral cause corruption? Or that sometimes his rants are accurate portrayals of the situation?

            • I do not really want to start a religious discussin except to say that Jesus fought for the poor and disadvantaged and challenged the political establishment of the time. Those who believe know the consequences.

              I am not putting JC (a nice alignment) but he too tried to stand up for those without power much to the irritation of thr establishment.

              Perhaps you could provide some specific examples of JC playing fast and loose with selective facts? Since you admit you only look at the programme promo I am not sure how you can form a judgment.

    • But why do we only have one tv current affairs programme? And that on a private channel… If we want balance, we should have at least one other. If we lose Campbell Live, we don’t have anything. Radio New Zealand will be the only remaining broadcaster questioning government policy. We need something informative, even if only to disagree with. A sad day for journalism, and for the potential of television when people want humour instead of debate.

    • Presented coolly? Leave it out, you have got to be having a laugh. Did you not see Hosking have Hager on his show for an interview only to finish off with one of the nastiest, furious, red-faced rants seen on NZ television? Hager was the only one who stayed cool. Not much humour, either, Hosking was incandescent with rage. Tirade doesn’t begin to describe it. You’d have thought he was a smarting Govt minister, not a supposedly impartial interviewer, the way he ripped into his interviewee. That’s why I laugh when the right go on about Campbell’s political leanings. Hosking leans so far right that his right ear is touching the floor. But, oh, he’s fine, humorous, cool … ah, but that evil Campbell, he dares to question policies! Sorry, if you’re happy to shoot down Campbell over his leanings, yet give Hosking plaudits on that score, that’s your credibility shot right there. Aint no coming back from that.

      • 14.5.1

        Simple answer to that rant, no, I didn’t watch Hosking interview Hager. I did watch Campbell promoting him instead.

  15. Like your blog(s)
    We have to look at the big picture, of which the axing of Campbell is only one mosaic piece.
    It all started 1984. Deregulation of the media industry like no other country.
    End of broadcasting fees.
    Public bad, private good.
    And on it goes.
    To one of the first acts of the Key government to get rid of The TVNZ charter.
    The architects of the neo-liberal agenda including those on the TV3 board have all the reason to celebrate.
    Critical journalism will disappear from NZ screens.
    Read my blog:
    You might consider putting it on your Blogroll.

  16. I don’t have a
    strong opinion on whether or not Campbell Live should be saved, given I almost never watch it. However, I signed the on-line petition because I feel very strongly about the need for a well-supported Current Affairs presence on Free to Air TV. (The Nation and Q&A, despite their glaring inadequacies, are important to me, and some version of them needs and deserves a far wider audience).

    The solution might be to establish a funding system like New Zealand On Air, dedicated to public affairs. This could finance investigative journalism as well as political and social programming. The success of a provider would still be based on eyeball count, obliging the broadcaster to make an effort to make programmes both entertaining and informative, but, as a public interest service, would of course also include My Sky recording etc for later viewing. The funding, however, could also also be weighted in favour of higher-viewer time slots.

    This funding should be ring-fenced to avoid the perception of undue political interference, while a well promoted and produced disussion programming within this format might easily rate well, given the popularity on Radio NZ of “The Panel” and other political oriented and discussion shows internationally (viz Fox News or The Daily Show). High viewership for well produced and well publicised programming would be an additional attraction to broadcasters, of course.

    I can hear the derisory cries of “the Government would never allow it!” Maybe not, but do I have to remind you of the Edmund Burke quotation. “Good Men” need to stand up, not just mutter sanctimoniously.

    • 16.1

      So other people should watch a programme you don’t watch? Or they should fund a programme you want to watch?

      I don’t think you’ve thought this through.

      • “So other people should watch a programme you don’t watch? Or they should fund a programme you want to watch?”

        I don’t think you’ve thought that through, yourself, Alan.

        If we’re only going to have programmes on TV that the masses watch, we might as well have non-stop crime “dramas”, reality shows, interspersed with a good dollop of soft core porn.

        It’s like giving kids unfettered access to the lolly shop.

        If a mainstream commercial broadcaster is not prepared to provide public-interest programming, then we must have a fta, non-commercial public broadcaster.

        If the Brits can have the hugely successful BBC and the Aussies ABC and SBS, then why can’t we?

        Because your neo-liberal, free market dogma sez we can’t?

        Is that what it boils down to – your belief system?

        I’d like to think we can have public broadcasting just as we have a public healthcare system and public education. One of which has probably saved your life – the other has educated you how to read and write so you can contribute to on-line fora like this.

        Who know, a public broadcaster might illuminate you further than “The X Factor”, “Masterchef”, “The Block”, “Road Cops”, “Cute Fluffy Animals”, “Rate My Girlfriend in A Bikini” (Ok, I made the last two up).

        If the “market” has shown us one thing, it is adept at providing “more from less” – but like cheap shoes from China, they are not always the best quality.


          The first requirement of public interest programmes is that the public is actually interested in them. Clearly Campbell is failing at this first hurdle.

          The Internet permits us to access the best content from anywhere in the world. That is the competition and game-changer that free to air TV and our print media face.

          Nostalgic wishful thinking and assertions of value are up against that reality.

          • Actually Campbell Live is one of the most watched programmes on TV.


              Unfortunately it is currently watched by only one third of the people who watch Seven Sharp at the same time.
              And the question that has to be asked is why is it’s current viewing public now only 150,00 compared to over 400,000 three years ago.


            The first requirement of public interest programmes is that the public is actually interested in them.

            No it is not. Your proposition is trading on an equivocation – the first use of the term is normative and the second descriptive.

            The democratic argument for public broadcasting is – roughly speaking – that an informed citizenry is necessary for the proper functioning of a democratic polity. Whether or not people actually want to be informed is irrelevant, and that’s why much of public broadcasting is informing people of things that they probably wouldn’t bother with themselves (which is one reason why the market model is inappropriate). Of course you can’t actually force people to fulfil their civic duty, but if you blare it out loud enough to enough people, historically it has more or less done the job. But if you’d ever attended a lecture on the rationale behind state-funded public broadcasting, you would already know this.

            However, it only really works in an environment of limited media choice where enough people end up watching the same thing. Of course, that’s increasingly no longer the case, so even if we were to realise the liberal wet dream of fully funded public broadcasting in NZ, it wouldn’t work. It would just be a media ghetto, like PBS.

            As far as I know, nobody has actually come up with a workable solution to the problem. so in the world we actually live in, public broadcasting is increasingly an anachronism (and so is democracy for that matter).


              One of the few occasions when I agree with everything you’ve said, Lee, though Churchill said long ago that the problem with democracy is that all the alternatives are worse and unfortunately that remains true.

              My belief though is that our democracy could be improved by a combination of a more principled constitution and binding citizens initiated referenda.

              The constitution should protect the individual from the majority acting through Government and the BCIR would protect the majority from minorities who capture the Government, usually through fear of single-issue voting.

              Both are necessary and complementary.


                The Churchill quote assumes that democracy is always a workable option. For much of human history it wasn’t, and it may well not be again.

                I’ll leave off BCIR, which I have reservations about.

      • By the way, Alan, it is a mistake to think that fta commercial tv is not paid for by you and me. We do. We pay by the advertising that is broadcast, and the cost built into the price of products and services we buy.

        Nothing is truly free.


          Why did you think I disagree? This is exactly the problem for Campbell. Not enough people are prepared to fund him via advertising. Are enough prepared to do it via voluntary subscription?

  17. I am not as enamoured of JC as many posters here. Like Alan I got tired of his unbalanced rants.

    The worst for me was the Christchurch earthquake. There will always be individual instances of neglect or injustice in an event of that magnitude. However government generosity in the aftermath was unparallelled here or anywhere else. It was also inevitable that there would be huge problems when a system predicated on a single adverse event was confounded by many aftershocks of a similar size to the original quake.

    None of that stopped JC in his crusade to identify villains.

    The best commentary on all that was the response of Christchurch at the two subsequent elections.

    • Old Tony – “However government generosity in the aftermath was unparallelled here or anywhere else.”


      Pray tell, Old Tony, what “generosity” might that be? I’m genuinely curious.

      • To buy out the affected red zone home-owners at government valuation to enable them to get on with their lives was a huge act of generosity. I have always thought that while the valuations may have been lower than the market in which the offers were taken up that struck a great balance between looking after those in need and recognising that none of us can be totally protected from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

        • For some of us it wasn’t hugely generous. It was what it was based on “outdated valuations”. The fact of the matter was that that land should never ever been given approval for building on. When I bought my house, I read the LIM that said ” land is subject to liquefaction as was so many percent of Christchurch land. The land should never have been built on. The point was that it was going to cost a monumental amount to “stabilize” the land. I have documentation with the suggestions on that. After the third major event and the third flow of liquefaction silt, the entire area was never going to be fixed. The Government under EQC was liable for the land damage. I hope you never have to be woken up at 3 am in the morning, during a 7.1 magnitude earthquake and then finding a lake of liquified silt at the back door and the garage sunk about a foot and a half lower than the house. I am thankful for what I received for my land from the Government and EQC. My insurance Company tried to say it was a rebuild even though the land was Red Zoned. They got off lightly because mine was a cheap property compared to others. I am one of the fortunate who have moved on and out. But I will never forget. EQC levees need to increase and New Zealand needs a Public Broadcasting TV channel.

        • “To buy out the affected red zone home-owners at government valuation to enable them to get on with their lives was a huge act of generosity.”

          Ok, that’s a good example of what you believe to be “a huge act of generosity”.

          But let’s unpick that (to use a phrase from journalism), shall we?

          Why did the government feel the need “to buy out the affected red zone home-owners”?

          You suggest it was “to enable them [red zone owners] to get on with their lives”?


          I would put it to you that the reason Red Zone owners were bought out was far more prosaic; to stop them re-building in a quake/liquifaction prone zone, and, with the next quake, place further demands on an already depleted EQC fund.

          So, far from being “generous”, this was a matter of necessity. (National is not known for generosity. Just ask newspaper boys and girls: )

          It was either purchase Red Zone properties or allow re-builds. The latter was clearly untenable.

          Campbell’s campaigning to prompt EQC to work harder and faster should never have been needed in the first place.

          And your obvious support for this government ignores the fact that Campbell went after private insurance companies who demanded prompt payments for insurance policies – but were nowhere as prompt in paying out on claims, or rebuilds.

          Or do you think insurance companies were also unfairly targetted by John Campbell?

      • 17.1.2

    • 17.2

      I think you spelled that wrong, don’t you mean Old Tory?

      • 17.2.1

        Oh dear. The inevitable personal attack as the first response from the Left.


          See John Murray, April 10th, 2015 at 17:21, 12.1
          “This is exactly the sort of brainless babble I’d expect from a John Campbell disciple. Grow up!”
          I don’t think John Murray is left wing.


            One point to you, John.


            On the other hand I score Ben Thomas, Wensleydale, and Kathy so I’m still well in front even without counting Jasperdene.

            • And I am not even of the left!


                You are in heavy disguise then.


                  Sadly, Alan, like many political zealots from both sides of the spectrum, you assume that anyone who disagrees with your view must be an extremist, in your case those who oppose you are from the left probably Maoist.

                  I would not place myself in any political pigeon hole. In this case I think it sad that CL will add to the scrap heap of intelligent programming regardless of whether I agree with the views expressed by JC.

                  The point I was trying to make was that TVNZ Has a built in advantage arising from the inertia of its audience. The heads of TV3 I believe have refered to this inertia in the past. If CL were on TVNZ it would be a ratings hit.

                  As for Hosking, I do not care what his political views are. I happen to dislike him and find him superficial and patronising. The fact that I dislike him does not make me a card carrying communist, any more than my dislike for David Cunliffe makes a member of the National Front.

                  Unlike you I do not see things in black and white.


                  You take yourself far too seriously, Ben. However, I didn’t judge you on your dislike of Hosking, but in the way you expressed it as a personal snark rather than a criticism of what he says.

        • C’mon, it was a good line and a little light relief, nothing to cause offence.

  18. Exaggeration is the word that sums up Campbell for me. Too much emphasis on emotive over statement that finally frightens advertisers that TV3 can’t afford to lose. It is after all a team game and ‘prima donnas’ need to look after the hand that feeds them. The embarrassment should be that they are clearly superior to the tabloid opposition in everything but ratings.

  19. I concur, Brian.

    Campbell Live is fine when it rates highly – but is a millstone around a commercial broadcaster’s neck when those same ratings fall.

    The answer is a non-commercial public service broadcaster, and TV1, 2, 3, et al, can get on with broadcasting as many reality shows and crime/violence “dramas” as the public can stomach until they can’t take any more.

    The future is akin to a scene from the excellent, prescient, sf-satire, “Idiocracy”, when a brain-dead citizen is reclining in his lazyboy; eating crap; watching sexualised crap on a dumbed-downed tv, and masterbating. The citizen can’t even stop his self-abuse when the movie’s heroclimbs through his window…

    Anyone who hasn’t watching “Idiocracy” should watch it. It will all be too eerily familiar…

    • 19.1

      The only people that would watch such a station are the folks who would watch PBS in the US, or stations like TVO in Ontario – mostly well educated people who like ideas.

      But I take issue with what you’ve said. We are, in my opinion, living through a golden age of television drama. Shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men are an order of magnitude better than what passed for good TV 20 years ago. Of course more people like reality TV dreck like X Factor (a show which makes me wonder if the Khmer Rouge didn’t have a point), but there is plenty of excellent stuff to suit most tastes.

      A vast number of people like to watch mindless dreck, and there’s really no way of stopping them. It’s always been like this. Even in bookshops most of the best selling fiction has usually some sort of soft core pornography.

  20. How appropriate, the counter to seven sharp is not investigative affairs but jono and ben

  21. Ratings are not like a blind tasting. The people who run a TV or radio station determine its culture. If they want to see a show succeed, they promote it. Look at the huge amount of promotion given to Paul Henry. And if it doesn’t work as they hoped, their response is to promote him even more. Campbell Live doesn’t sit well with the culture that Weldon is trying to nurture. Hence the promotion of the program goes down and with it the ratings.

  22. As I said elsewhere, Key’s henchman might find that screwing Campbell over might come back to haunt them – particularly Key. Campbell would make a fantastic tv-age politician and with his tv rep and following he would relegate Key not only off the stage but out of the theatre.

    And if they do screw him over then I don’t seem him looking to the right for a political home.

    • 22.1

      I don’t think his last interview with Key is an encouraging indication of how he would fare with him in Parliament. Your rose-tinted glasses paint a picture full of wishful thinking.

      Interesting question, but how many journalists have made a success of politics? The only one that comes to mind, at least in longevity, is Austin Mitchell and he went back to the UK to do it.

  23. Brian, without wishing to make either of us feel old, I grew up watching you do very much the same sort of journalism Campbell does at his best. And, frankly, the thought that kids will now grow up watching “newsmen” such as Hosking and Henry focusing on 10 fun things to do with garden gnomes or the delights of Hawaiian nose humming, rather than someone like you or Campbell covering issues that matter, is enough to make me take my telly into the back yard and burn it.

  24. 24

    Jasperdene Harmonious

    Sooooooooo sad, that JC didn’t appreciate that the doyenne of Reality (a.k.a Trash) TV has a loooooong memory.

    JC has had her eye on him and was counting down to work JC over.

    Hell hath no fury like a female purveyor of television dreck, having her vanity pricked.

    • 24.1

      Careful!John Murray will call that “brainless babble” and tell you to “grow up”.

    • Yes, she and Campbell have a bit of history don’t they? Certainly if she’s a vindictive person she would have had a darned good reason to want him out.

      Interesting that of all the candidates who could have been chosen for that particular post a major Campbell enemy was given it.

      The fact that his show’s had little publicity since she’s been on board, while Hosking’s grinning mug is all over Auckland, every day, might help explain why the ratings battle has become one-sided.

      If you wanted the ratings up, surely you’d give your man the same sort of publicity the opposition was getting?

      But if you wanted your man out, well give him zero publicity, watch the ratings fall and then thrust the knife in the guy’s ribs.

      (Or am I just brainlessly babbling?)

      • 24.2.1

        This article seems a pretty good backgrounder:

        Obviously the MediaWorks Board is under severe pressure to find a profitable strategy and make it work. It’s hard to see why they would sabotage their own profits over the past several years as you suggest. More likely that they couldn’t afford to match TVNZ’s advertising spend – and initially thought they didn’t have to when Seven Sharp failed prior to Hosking’s revamp.

        Also I question whether advertising could have been cost effective. I’ve seen quite a lot of pictures of John Campbell and all it does is remind me why I don’t watch it now.

  25. As one of the brain dead masses or sheeples that the Left so despise I wonder why it is so hard for the Left to force us to do as they want – watch their choice of TV, eat the food they think is good for us, vote for the people they choose etc etc.
    Perhaps we are not as dumb as we are painted and can actually decide for ourselves what we want to watch on TV. I found Campbell’s over-excited manner off -putting, his stories often so one-sided they were hard to credit and the whole aura of the intrepid boy reporter a bit sick-making.

    • Sadly human sheep do actually exist.

      And I’m even more irritated by the shameless nouveau-riche prima-donna sensibilities of Mike Hosking and his ilk.

    • Fascinated by your assumption that it is ‘the left’ (whatever you mean by that arm-waving cliche) that wants to coerce and govern what we see and do, given this government’s modus operandi of doing exactly that. Mr Joyce is a master of it. I’ve been watching domestic politics for decades now and have never felt so managed by a government as this one. It is both presumptuous and downright creepy.

      Presenters (hardly journalists) like Hosking and Henry, who tell their viewers what to think every time they are on view in any media capacity, are symptomatic of the prevailing management of public opinion in NZ at the moment, parroting government lines…and you’re bothered about Campbell engaging in advocacy journalism that holds the government and others to account?


  26. one reason why JC has been over-emotional may be a symptom of the stress he’s been under. My point of view, having been under work-stress for 6 weeks and at the 6-week mark became over-emotional while at work.

  27. We already have public funded radio (plus the classical station) the next demand is for public funded TV (bring back licensing?). What’s next? Public funded newspapers? Public funded blog sites? All paid for by me(taxpayer) but I doubt I’ll be asked what views they should be pushing. My job will be to front with the readies so the self-identified intellectual elite have a soap box to preach at me night and day.

    • Dr Peter Thompson of the CBB has proposed a communications levy on broadcast and broadband infrastructure – in addition to ‘must carry’ rules.

      Crowd-funding, donation and subscription models wouldn’t work well for a public broadcasting system – either it’ll burn through the investment too quickly, or it’ll risk capture by those with the fattest wallets. And while Internet on-demand podcasting is the future, it’s not yet as ubiquitous as traditional FTA broadcasting.

      • This is exactly what I am opposed too. Bureaucrats on public funded soap boxes. If they want to preach let them pay for the privilege themselves.

    • Whereas you’re comfortable with privately funded idealists forwarding their world view unchallenged by any disinterested party?

      • 27.2.1

        You mean like Hosking – funded by the TVNZ taxpayer owners?

        Freedom for privately funded opinion and media is crucial for challenge to all world views. In the age of the internet such challenges are cheaper to mount than ever before.

        • As it stands, TVNZ has become a public broadcaster in name only. As for Hosking, he’s not so much a free-marketeer as he is a corporate welfare neo-feudalist – his rant in defence of taxpayer funds for the SkyCity convention centre is a case in point.

          Anyone can start a blog and put opinions on it. But it takes considerable investment – or the best insider connections – to make it have any meaningful influence.

  28. If you want a prime example of the conflict between investigative journalism and advertiser revenue, you only have to read about Peter Oborne’s very public falling out with the Daily Telegraph over its attempts to gag him from writing about HSBC cooking the books.

    • Further to my point, the way things are going, what Noam Chomsky calls the “propaganda model” or “manufacturing consent” is cementing its presence in NZ. Basically it’s the economic cartel model applied to communications.

    • 28.2

      Why on earth do you think public broadcasting is not at least as susceptible to editorial capture either by bureaucracies or politicians?

  29. Sorry off topic but isnt it time for Bomber Bradbury to be forgiven his sins and allowed back to Jim’s Show or is this a lifetime ban?

  30. Isn’t it fabulous that we are having this debate? I hope Amy Adams and John Key are reading all this. And thank goodness Todd Barclay has removed himself. He has no idea of the crucial role of the media and the Opposition in a democracy. And neither do many if the people commenting above. If all they want is entertainment, there is 95% of current tv content for them.

  31. I don’t watch Campbell Live because I never thought he went far enough with his investigative reporting. I don’t believe there is a journalistic medium in NZ that actually asks the hard questions or for that matter draws intelligent conclusions over the “issues” they investigate. I find the reporting simplistic in that they may identify issues but run out of steam during the story, or the story is clearly biased and both views are not addressed adequately. I don’t watch Seven Sharp either because it’s just candy floss wrapped up in a news reporting format.

  32. And it’s also interesting that no one is saying anything complimentary about the ability of Mike Hoskings or Paul Henry to present balanced and credible current affairs. Even those who complain about John Campbell. If the situation was getting rid of either of those, would this debate be raging?

  33. saddened by the pending demise of Campbell Live, and what ever the reason (probably a combination of most already explored) I see this as another symptom of the drawn out demise of television in anything like its current incarnation….and with the standard of offering in recent times and one of the few worthwhile remnants about to be axed I say good riddance and RIP.

  34. As you point out Brian, John Campbell has initiated many campaigns to improve the lives of countless Kiwis.

    More often than not Campbell Live appears to be the fence at the top of the cliff while John Keys Government appear to be the ambulance at the bottom.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when private sector broadcasters are the only ones left who are allowed to question a nations government.

    With John Keys mate Mark Weldon at the helm we are now losing this option as well.

    • 34.1

      “It’s a sad state of affairs when private sector broadcasters are the only ones left who are allowed to question a nations government.”

      Actually that is perfectly normal and almost invariably the case. What is strange is the Left’s perception the reverse is true.

      • “Perfectly normal”, except when the ‘private sector broadcasters’ are invariably the loudhailer for the private sector cronies of the ‘Right’.


          Campbell, Garner and Gower? And Plunkett and Hoskings spent years working for public radio?

          • Which shows public radio was hardly the left leaning mouthpiece it is often accused of being by the Right.


              Or that even Hosking and Plunkett had to speak for the Left when working for public radio Morning Report, notably described by Paul Holmes as an in-house journal for the Beehive.


                And now Espiner & Ferguson have to speak for the Left? Gosh their employment contracts must make interesting reading.

    • “More often than not Campbell Live appears to be the fence at the top of the cliff while John Keys Government appear to be the ambulance at the bottom”

      I’d say its the other way around – John Key pushing everyone that’s not pro National over the cliff and Campbell Live with the ambulance at the bottom

  35. All Mr Edwards points are noted and respected BUT one thing is wrong, In actual fact Campbell Live runs at a healthy profit! Which leads to some interesting questions that you are able to ask for yourself [as I don’t want to be labelled a leftist!].

  36. I will breathe a lot more easily when John Campbell disappears.

    His refusal to take the normal number of breaths during his sermonizing invariably leaves me breathless.

    And to all the lefties who see his likely sacking as the result of a devious, right-wing manipulated plot, take a deep breath and relax.

    The simple truth is that Campbell doesn’t rate sufficiently.

    End of story. It’s MediaWorks’ duty to make money and Campbell Live ain’t pulling its weight.

    All the other issues like enhanced public service broadcasting or where Campbell may be better suited are worthy topics but irrelevant to MediaWorks and their decision.

    • What I really object to is this facile division of people’s motives into Right- and Left-wing. Children going to school without breakfast or shoes does not require a Left or Right philosophy to evoke a response. All that is required to find this unsatisfactory is common humanity. The Left should perhaps be flattered that the Right identifies concern for such injustice as “Left wing propaganda” when it ought to touch the hearts and consciences of all of us. Campbell is not a Left-Wing broadcaster; he is a humanitarian or, if you like, a liberal broadcaster.

      • Thank you – lucid and true.

      • 36.1.2

        No, the Left solution is to throw taxpayers money at the problem. The alternatives are to create opportunities and encourage individual initiative and responsibility. That is where the division lies, not in the Left’s presumption that they are the only humanitarians. That is why Campbell is a Left-Wing broadcaster.

        • Alan, at the time of posting there are 133 responses to Brian’s post, and 38 of them are yours. Anyone who reads this blog knows about your opinion of ‘the Left’, which you treat us to with monotonous regularity… and which you turn most topics to in the end.

          Many of them are unchallenged, as doing so is akin to sticking one’s finger in a ferret’s cage. That doesn’t mean that you are right, just that you THINK you are right. Your simplistic statement about ‘the Left’ simply and uselessly throwing money at problems, while your bastions of righteous free enterprise go boldly onwards modelling their own behaviour for the betterment of the masses is, frankly, twaddle.


            Nell, since evidently you don’t have a proper counter argument why bother replying? To reiterate for you, the difference between the Left and other people is not who is humanitarian, but who believe in socialist solutions to social problems.


            I have a friend who was of the opinion that if a person featured regularly in the Letters to the Editor section of the newspaper, they were bound to be a crank. The same could well be said by the numer of comments made by an individual on a blog site.

            • Not necessarily, Alan is interesting as his views are worth consideration as they give a timely insight into the one dimensional doctrine of ‘right wing’ thinking, socially and economic.


              I have a working hypothesis that you can tell a Lefty because they resort to personal attacks when they run out of valid facts and logic, which is usually immediately. You are consistent example #1058.


                It really doesn’t work as a hypothesis – it is just what you fall back on when it suits you. It is uninterrogated and you cherry-pick wildly, but it makes you feel justified in your dismissal of counter arguments or positions that challenge your comfort zone. (And the finger-pointing way you use ‘lefty’ can easily be construed pejoratively, and therefore as an intended insult too…)

                Will this change your stance? I doubt it. There are many interesting blogs and replies here, so I come to read them. As I have made a point and still have all my fingers, I’ll leave it there.


                  If it didn’t work you would be able to provide counter examples which you can’t and haven’t. I’m entirely willing to consider counter arguments, merely trying to educate you Lefties that personal attacks do not qualify. That is an uphill battle but I persist.

      • Well said Brian. I have noticed, though, that mean spiritedness is never in short supply among the rabid Right.

  37. ps

    I don’t mean to insinuate that Brian’s piece insinuates a right-wing plot.

    But a handful of contributors have.

  38. Therefore I presume it’s appropriate not to label Hosking a right-wing broadcaster but rather a humanitarian and a conservative broadcaster.

  39. I switched over from Campbell when he started going on and on and on about the poor and hungry. Poor and hungry there may well be but most of us (according to the ratings) don’t believe it is our fault. We are not India and no matter how Campbell and the left try to manipulate the statistics we know that poor personal habits are the most likely cause of NZ poverty or hunger. Everyone switched off or over and as Campbell Live is a commercial enterprise it’s ability to attract money has been severely limited. A media baron said many years ago that the role of the media is to sell toothpaste tampons and toilet paper. End of.

  40. Alan Wilkinson @ April 12th, 2015 at 19:18

    “The Government refutes misinformation with correct information from wherever is the authorative and appropriate source. End of story.”

    I saw a member of the Government refuting ‘misinformation’ (according to her) with ‘correct’ information from a authorative and appropriate source (her).

    Thois was done on several occasions.

    To this day I believe the ‘misinformation’ was the truth and the ‘correct’ information from the authorative and appropriate source (her) were lies.

    The person was the then Minister of Justice.

    • 40.1

      Individuals sometimes make mistakes – and pay for them. Did she? And what instance are you referring to?

      • Is deliberately giving misleading information making mistakes?

        You choose the instances you think fit the description. Having said “The Government refutes misinformation with correct information” you possibly genuinely believe there are no such instances.


          I’m not interested in playing games.

          • Yet prepared to perpetuate the games others play.

            Stating “The Government refutes misinformation with correct information from wherever is the authorative and appropriate source. End of story” is a game. A game of bullshit from you to reinforce the bullshit from them.


              The context you wilfully ignore was the list of conflicts cited by Frank and John Northcroft’s assertion that was a misuse of the public service.

              Go play your silly irrelevant games with someone else. If you want to make a point do it properly without this half-witted obfuscation and misrepresentation.

  41. “The first requirement of public interest programmes is that the public is actually interested in them.”

    Most people are occasionally interested in the items of public interest Campbell Live presents. If a particular topic or place has relevance they may watch.

    By and large we have an “I’m all right Jack” attitude”. We (generalisation) have very selective empathy. Since we are happy with our lives why should we subject ourselves to watching Campbell getting all passionate about some issue and someone we don’t care about. We and those we know will never be in that situation.

    The alternative is ideal. The “I’m here on planet Earth to worry about me” attitude is attracted and perfectly suited to Mike Hosking. The contrast of the programmes, the contrast of the front people and the numbers watching them, are representative of the attitudes of the society.

  42. What a vile comment Mark.

    But then again, it often appears the prerogative of a bitter, holier-than-thou lefty like yerself.

    I’m picking Hosking annoys the hell out of you because….

    1. He has different political leanings than you.
    2. He is very successful at what he does.

    I bet that’s precisely why you resort to an ad-hominem attack and describe him as a “pontificating, self-absorbed knob.”

  43. If such a comment was directed at Campbell, there would be a sense of outrage expressed by most on this site Alan.

    But when it’s used against a chap with right-of-centre views, the silence is indeed deafening.

    Like it was after a contributor here named Wensleydale previously described Hosking’s appearance as looking like “a wig glued to a baboon’s bum.

    Not a murmur in objection followed.

    But that appears your prerogative when you smugly believe the truth is invariably on your side.

  44. What I really object to are poorly moderated blogs where trolls thrive.

  45. A excellence example of why we need campbell live was the articles on the GCSB Keys reply’s were, no comment ,i have no knowledge of that, we do not spy on New Zealanders ,i was not told,it may of happened ,it was only a few, we made a mistake blar,blar,blar no one else had the backbone to scrutinize the party or the US involvement in OUR Country i urge all New Zealand to blacklist TV3 if Cambell Live is axed.( i hope our comments in the future will not put us on the red list)

  46. I think John Campbell broadcast would fit in quite nicely with Maori TV. That channel likes to focus in on events that have a rather broad New Zealand flavour.