Wendy Palmer Exits RadioWorks Updated by press release

Wendy Palmer resigned today as chief executive of the MediaWorks radio operation, signaling more big changes ahead for New Zealand media. Yesterday, Jeff Latch resigned as TVNZ director of content after 23 years.  Both have been major players in New Zeland media. Palmer has been a leading light of MediaWorks and she has maintained market leadership against NZME radio operations.

Jeff Latch is exiting TVNZ as well.

The stability and strength in Mediaworks radio – especially in Auckland – has balanced the major problems facing TV3. Sources say that Palmer has become frustrated with the ructions during the troubled era when Mark Weldon was CEO of MediaWorks. Weldon was more interested in TV, but sources say it was a challenging time for Palmer as well. Amidst persistent rumours of potential sales for MediaWorks there have been suitors for radio alone, but few when TV is included in the sale, sources say. In August last yea, Michael Anderson took over as CEO. His profile on the MediaWorks website highlights a background radio. “Michael spent seven years as CEO of one of Australia’s largest commercial radio groups Austereo (now Southern Cross Austereo) and before that as their Group Director, Sales. “Under Michael’s leadership, Austereo’s performance in both revenue and audience grew significantly – in a time of huge change to the industry.” MediaWorks has previously rejected several requests to speak to Anderson about the strategy and future of the firm.


A press release was issued but Palmer refused to comment further on her reasons for leaving.

MediaWorks Radio CEO, Wendy Palmer has decided to step down. Wendy has been with MediaWorks Radio almost 12 years – the last three of which have been as CEO Radio where she has led the business to its number one position in the market – with its highest ever ratings achieved last year.Wendy Palmer said: “It has been an absolute privilege to be part of such a brilliant team of people – I cannot thank them enough. I am so proud of everything we have achieved together and in particular over the last year – our great content team for our best ever ratings and the radio business overall for delivering our best ever financial performance. I wish them all the very best for the future.”Michael Anderson, MediaWorks CEO said: “We are really sad to lose Wendy but understand her decision to move on. She leaves our radio business in strong shape – and poised to move forward and capitalise on its leading position – thanks to her brilliant leadership and work with her teams and with clients. She has been a great support to me in my time at MediaWorks and I know I speak on behalf of the many, many people Wendy has worked with when I say she will be greatly missed.”David Gibbs, who has been assisting the radio team since the beginning of the year, will act as Head of Radio where he will lead the Regional Managers and branch operations working closely with Group Content Director – Music, Leon Wratt and Chief Commercial Officer, Glen Kyne.

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Fight Club: Sky versus TVNZ

Journo Cuts After Building Blowout Opinion

Television New Zealand’s answer to the collapse of journalism has been a $6o million refurbishment. That and a restructure of the news with fewer journalists. Don’t we deserve better from the state broadcaster and the politicians who control it?

TVNZ will not specify the number of journalist jobs that will be lost from the restructuring of news. My sources suggest that maybe 20 editorial positions will go, representing around 10 percent of its news staff. The Christchurch and Wellington bureaus will be cut back with more processing of video from Auckland.

Bill Ralston: TVNZ restructuring claims are bullshit

A few reporters will be moved to smaller provincial centres such as Queenstown and TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick says that new technology will make the news management more efficient and that will make up for the loss of staff. Some people – such as former TVNZ former head of news and current affairs Bill Ralston suggest there will be a loss of quality. Another former TVNZ news executive who would not be named said restructures are inevitable in media, but they seldom lead to the efficiencies they claim. Ralston points out that the first stop for TVNZ cutbacks is the news, while it retains a weighty middle management, As the old TV reporters sign off would put it. “Only time will tell.” But these latest cutbacks aimed at news illustrate the short-sighted thinking of TVNZ and the government.


Kevin Kenrick. Job cuts after blowout

There is so much happening with journalism and media – the only thought from the government is about trimming cost to keep TVNZ afloat I wonder if the TVNZ news operation should be broken away from its struggling Mothership. There is precious little love for news at TVNZ – even though it is largely kept afloat by it news audience. The main point of TVNZ nowadays is the survival of TVNZ.

TVNZ’s big initiative of late has been to undertake a $60 million upgrade of the network centre, after a $23 million blowout. Kevin Kenrick says it is wrong to link the cost overrun. Problems became apparent during work, he said.

Kenrick insists the restructuring cannot be juxtaposed the blown out cost for the refurbishment.

It was the first in 25 years. Maybe. But in my view the result from the taxpayers investing in the flash new building will be the further diminishing of a once proud newsroom, Once shows like Holmes played an active role in the news eco-system.  Nowadays TVNZ news is risk-averse. Of course it rates. And that is what matters for a management team focused on the short term.

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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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