Put Some Oomph Into The Project

Caption: Maybe Jeremy Corbett or Paul Ego could help The Project cut through with the audience.

I am hoping that the core audience for The Project sticks with the show and gives MediaWorks time to fix it. Lord knows, audiences nowadays are not patient allowing new shows to settle in. But there is clearly a good idea there. It might just mean changing the line-up.

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TV3 Rebrands As Three

MediaWorks has unveiled a rebrand of Tv3. The new look channel starts tomorrow and its promotion includes changing the TV3 to “Three” using fresh fonts while focusing on familiar shows such as Seven Days, Newshub and its’ news products. Starting soon will be the comedy-news show “The Project” at 7pm and “The AM Show” replacing Paul Henry on radio and TV. It is the first time that TV3 has been rebranded since 2003, and in my view, TV3 will be hoping it marks a turning point from a tough period in 2014 and 2015 with Mark Weldon at the helm. Last year, Tv3 parent company MediaWorks established a more stable management structure. But this is a tough time for free-to-air television and TV3 is trying to recover and increase it’s share of advertising revenue.



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Bathrobe Video Puts Polly Show Under Review Updated

The Polly and Grant show South of Auckland may not continue following Gillespie’s bathroom criticism of NZME. Todd Campbell Content Director The Hits said 

Todd Campbell, Content Director The Hits, said:  
“The Polly and Grant Show is not on air, we are reviewing the events of the last few days, no further comment will be made at this time. In the meantime we will continue to bring the best music from the 90s till now including the chance to see Adele in concert.”

Earlier story.  Polly Gillespie’s bathrobe video is a strange belated response to her losing the breakfast show in Auckland for “The Hits” You wonder if there may be more changes ahead at The Hits. When the change of Auckland hosts was announced by NZME on Christmas Eve, Gillespie was on board saying all the things dropped hosts were meant to say. She congratulated Sam Wallace and Toni Street who were to take over the Auckland breakfast show.

Toni Street and Sam Wallace

Judging by her Facebook video this week, Gillespie is not happy with the outcome. Dressed in a bathrobe and dying her hair, she criticised the move and new restrictions on what she can say in social media. Her contract ends in March.

Asked about plans for her and her co-host Grant Kereama, she told Stuff>  “I have no plans to go anywhere else but I’m fairly sure I won’t be re-signing with current employers.


Changes in on-air hosts happen all the time. Auckland ratings for The Hits breakfast show may do better with Wallace, and Street moving from TVNZ.  Street will continue in her role as mumsy sidekick to Mike Hosking on Seven Sharp, helping her profile. The attempt to turn Polly Gillespie into a celebrity in Auckland always seemed like a Big Ask..to me, She was very much a Wellington person virtually unknown in Auckland, the biggest market and most competitive breakfast radio market.

Polly Gillespiet.

Former NZME chief executive Jane Hastings there were extraordinary efforts to promote Gillespie in Auckland. But under MediaWorks programming boss Leon Wratt, the competition has been doing well with Auckland ratings for its music stations.


Jane HastingsI

It is easy to see why NZME was attracted to Street and Wallace with their established TV profiles. NZME has a commercial arrangement to share talent with TVNZ.

It has Hosking on Breakfast at Newstalk ZB nationally and now they will have Street at “The Hits”  … in Auckland at least. You wonder if Wallace and Street will eventually go nationwide.


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Labour, Willie And The Future Of Maori Media Opinion

CAPTION: Willie Jackson and Labour’s Matt McCarten.

What happens to Auckland’s Waatea Maori Radio if Willie Jackson wins a place in the Labour caucus? As it stands he controls Waatea along with John Tamihere who head the urban Maori authorities for Manukau and Waipareira, though Jackson has an editorial role as well.  He heads the National Urban Maori Authority and is chairman of the Iwi Maori Radio Association representing 21 stations. He has a significant influence on Maori broadcasting, and indirectly on Maori TV. Labour is expected to announce soon he has been given a high place on the Labour list raising questions about how the independence of these bodies is maintained.  In my opinion that will need to be redoubled if Labour ends up leading the next government.


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Hoping For A News Edge On TV3’s 7pm Project

CAPTION: The main team on the new TV3 show, The Project. They look like a nice bunch.

MediaWorks needs more firepower on “The Project” if it is going to take viewers away from SevenSharp and Shortland Street. Commercially Tv3 is probably doing the right thing abandoning current affairs for comedy at 7pm. But there needs to be an edge to a prime time comedy news show. You assume they are thinking about that.

CampbellLive maintained 7pm ratings a long time,

News producers know the challenge of providing 22 minutes of content each weeknight at 7pm. But I hear the news people have very little involvement. You assume the entertainment people who are largely running The Project are fully aware of the challenges providing 22 minutes of humorous content each night live in prime time. Not only do they need to please the news-magazine audience that has been watching Story, they also have to attract a new audience. THe new show is expected to start next month.

TV3 looked at The Project format back in 2015 when it was looking at a replacement for Campbell Live.

Story was TV3’s last attempt at 7pm current affairs.

They would have looked at the TVNZ attempt at copying the format for the ill- fated first series of Seven Sharp to find what not to do. I am told that, back then, TV3 was frightened off by cost and scale of the Aussie format show. It was tenable for the Ten Network in Australia – it went on to win awards and good ratings – but back then it would not have been economic for TV3. Instead TV3 went for the traditional current affairs magazine format of Story, hosted by Duncan Garner and Heather du Plessis-

The Project in Oz has a news edge.

Allan. Of course that never made financial sense, either. Perhaps they should have stuck with comedy.

Named hosts for The Project are Jesse Mulligan, 7 Days regular Josh Thomson, and popular TV presenter Kanoa Lloyd. They are quite likable but its not apparent where the show will get the energy to carry off a prime time comedy show-Jesse Mulligan cut his teeth on Seven Days and was one of its main writers in the old days. Thompson can be genuinely funny. Its all very nice.

TV3 is said to  have very high hopes for Kanoa Lloyd – the Tv3 reporter and cheery weather woman. Lloyd is personable and is said to be very comfortable in front of the camera. Away from the weather map she may well turn out to be sharp-witted and energetic and will lead the crew into a new era of commercial success at 7pm. Fingers crossed Paul Henry pops in quite a bit – in the early days at least.




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Laid Back Summer A Week Too Long At RNZ

RNZ returns to its regular schedule on Monday – declaring an end to a four week summer when the world allegedly stops spinning for us all to catch our breath. Locally, its a time when politics and business slow down allowing local media operate on a skeleton staff for a couple of weeks. RNZ takes that a step further. It always restarts programming year on Wellington Anniversary Day, after what is effectively a month long break. Its a week too long. National Radio has been missing in action this week. The world is in upheaval due to Trump. Morning Report will return on Monday with the world utterly changed.

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Freeview And Pay TV

Prospects are still live for closer links between Freeview and Lightbox. TVNZ is still looking at taking a bigger stake in Freeview and part of that might see closer ties with the Spark owned pay tv platform, I am told by industry players.

One ndustry source suggested a tie up between TVNZ and Spark might not involve an equity stake. But the relationship might entail something as simple as having a Lightbox App on the Freeview platform to allow easy movement across platforms. Spark has declined to discuss plans to increase its media arm, but in my opinion Spark would make a good partner for free to air TV.

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Down Time In Provincial Print

Caption: The art deco Daily Telegraph building symbolised the steady, secure nature of provincial newspapers in the 1980s.

An old journalist colleague of mine, Mike Johansson and has a unique take of the changes facing print media. He started out as a cadet reporter at the now defunct Napier Daily Telegraph in what is now remembered as a strong and stable era for New Zealand print journalism.  Provincial newspapers were buoyed by classified advertising and had enough resources to sustain a rounds system that covered local news with some detailed understanding. He also worked as a sub-editor at The Press, in Christchurch, in what was, in retrospect, a golden era.

Johansson earned a Rotary scholarship to the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University in Upstate New York and after that he made a career nearby at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester owned by the giant Gannett Corporation.

“In 1986 when I landed in Syracuse, readership was in very slow decline,” he says.

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Hunkering Down For The Perfect Storm 2017: The Big Shakedown

It’s hardly news that newspapers have been going through heavy weather. But it is clear 2017 will be make or break time for New Zealand newspapers. All over the world papers are closing and downsizing. In general, NZ papers have remained profitable, though this week Fairfax New Zealand announced a $75 million loss after writing down the value of its papers by $100 million. But there are special problems here make our journalism more vulnerable. Partly it is because we have uniquely had no specific media and as a result we have already reached the point where our media is already ruled by duopolies. The next step is monopolies and the Commerce Commission regulating competition, seems wary of taking that step.

The romantic images a newspaper reporter - circa1946
The romantic images a newspaper reporter – circa 1946

Perhaps more than other countries New Zealand newspapers  have been doing the hard work building stories from the start – the heavy lifting some call it. Establishing the detail and diversity of news for other media that follow up on them.  A diminished resources for newspapers has already led to the end of the rounds system – where reporters brvsmr experts in issues or or institions, That has diminished newspaper reporter and had a downstream effect with poorer TV and radio bulletins. Further cuts are inevitable for newspapers and that will flow on to other media. The immediate future will be decided on March 15 when the Commerce Commission decides whether to change its mind and approve the merger of NZME. and Fairfax. The strong criticism in the ComCom draft report issued in November means that few expect merger approval. Commerce Commission chair Mark Berry appeared to go out of his way to discourage expectations for a turnaround, saying the influence of the combined countries as second only to Mainland China,. If it does occur there will likely be a swift change and layoffs .The two firms will stop sending two or more people to cover one news story. Some predict over 25 per cent of 3000 combined staff will go, including dozens of journalists. Even if there is no merger there will be cuts to staff longer term . Newspaper companies will have to assess how they can continue to make money in a market where their business model (they freely admit) no longer works.



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Who Goes There? – Holt Opinion

Caption: Hayley and the Greens

The United States will soon be run by reality TV star Donald Trump. And in little old New Zealand, we’ve seen wannabe politicians who happen to have been on the telly.

The latest “star” political wannabe is Hayley Holt, a talented snowboarder and a presenter of two niche TV shows “The Crowd Goes Wild” and “Back Benches. Name recognition matters for a party like the Greens and you wonder if there are any more media people waiting in the wings.

But Holt does not have the celebrity power of Tamati Coffey who fronted the weather forecasts for many years and who will be standing for Labour in the Waiariki seat in 2017.

Holt is said to be an environmentalist and have a degree in politics and that means a lot for some Green voters.

She may well be be a brilliant advocate for the Party. Holt had indicated that she was interested in winning the candidacy for the Helensville electorate. Maybe that will be less attractive now that John Key is no longer standing and there would be fewer promotional opportunities.

The Greens insist they will follow their normal practices is selecting her place on the List, . But announcements of star candidates like Holt raise the question whether high profile people have a place ahead non- celebrity candidates,


Tamati Coffey has genuine star appear and is standing for Labour in Wairariki

Holt told the NZ Herald she is not yet sure how many votes her star power could be worth.”I don’t want politics to be boring. It looks boring at the moment and we’ve got some really fresh, exciting faces with the Greens coming through …” she said.

Another recent recruit looking for a place on the Greens list is high profile politician Chloe Swarbrick who had worked with alternative radio station Bfm.

Chloe Swarbrick
Chloe Swarbrick

She has been backed by media on the Left in Auckland and would likely draw votes in the city. Indeed when she recently announced her intentions to stand for Parliament it seemed like the Greens were joining Swarbrick, not vice – versa.



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