John Drinnan: TVNZ voice in the Pacific

Television New Zealand is talking to Pacific Islands broadcasters to beam its new FreeView 24-hour news and information channel into the Pacific some time next year.

TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis said the TVNZ board of directors supported plans to extend the channel sent to the islands by satellite. Several issues of copyright were being resolved.

In this country the news and information channel - which will be built around an updated 12- minute news bulletin every hour - will be available only for those who have a set-top box.

But under the plan Pacific viewers would not need a box.

TVNZ is promoting TVNZ24 to the Pacific Islands Media Association. One option is for the channel to be delivered direct to homes via satellite. The other is that it could be picked up by Pacific Islands broadcasters and then re-broadcast on their existing terrestrial transmission systems.

Ellis said he and the TVNZ board were keen because New Zealand's voice was being "drowned out" by US and Australian broadcasters aimed at the Pacific.

It is not yet clear who would finance the move. Maybe it has a commercial angle.

It is also not clear that the five-year ad ban on the two new digital channels would apply in the Pacific Islands media. If so, why would they support the new channels in their territory?

Agency wars

These are glory days for DraftFCB Advertising, which was named the best media buying agency in last week's Caanz Media Awards. It also won the Noel Leeming account from Y & R Advertising. DraftFCB has long been a quiet achiever in the media-buying sector and many thought that was because of longtime media director Anna Chitty, who left last year. But DraftFCB appointed Derek Lindsay, the former Spark Media executive who left when the former local indie sold to the global advertising giant Omnicom. As for Noel Leeming, it is interesting that DraftFCB has had to go to such elaborate lengths to avoid what appears to be a small category clash.

It has created a separate subsidiary with 15 staff for the Noel Leeming and Bond & Bond business so that its marketing secrets are not shared with other DraftFCB clients Mitre 10, Whitcoulls and Foodstuffs Auckland.

Kiwi - but not too kiwi

Global images giant Getty Images has been at Wenderholm beach, north of Auckland, at a photo shoot as part of a push to provide images for the Australasian advertising and media market.

Getty Images is big in news and sports images and provides generic "stock" images used by the advertising and media industries.

Frequently bland and featuring all-American aspirational images, the pictures can look oddly alien in local media. In Auckland last week creative manager Justine Tasker was talking to PR folk about a change of approach in the past four years. With a new Sydney office, the push includes local photo shoots. But Tasker said the shoots in Wenderholm and in Australia could not produce photos that were identifiably New Zealand, because they would not sell to US media and advertising agencies.

Like a left-leaning NBR

Press release website Scoop has joined hands with New Zealand's blogging website site Public Address and the Spare Room site run by Ana Samways and Steven Shaw. The Scoop operation is selling advertising for all three.

Wade Bishop of Scoop Media said the principals of all three were friends and had audiences in a similar demographic, which he described as like a left-leaning National Business Review.

Bishop said Russell Brown, whose Hard News blog had the highest profile on the Public Address site, had been keen for the site to make up a bigger part of his income. Scoop was also improving its website at the end of the month and it made sense to join forces.

$1m, batteries included

Television New Zealand paid about $1 million for the new TV One promotion, the one where people are shining torch lights hopefully into the sky looking for ... well, something. Some media suggested it cost $300,000. In fact, that is what TVNZ paid Sydney consultants Ink, effectively to change the colour for the One logo from blue to orange, setting it against a blue sky. One million sounds a lot for a new commercial but, as any advertiser will tell you, branding television commercials always cost an arm and a leg. The channel promo is screened a lot and TVNZ desperately needs to sell TV One. A lot of people in the advertising industry are snitchy, saying the aspirational cast of thousands imagery was ostentatious and the refrain from the young girl not unlike Saatchi's ads for Telecom. The new ad is like previous TV One campaigns - Welcome to Our World, the Monty Pythonesque animations - appealing and necessary but ultimately wallpaper. As for the $300,000 paid to change the colour of the One logo, from blue to orange, one contact was bemused. Couldn't you change colours by pushing a couple of buttons on the office PC?

Rewriting history

After job cuts, the former head of news and current affairs Bill Ralston has portrayed himself as a champion of quality broadcasting who resigned rather than make the cuts. Not everyone at TVNZ, past and present, agrees with that interpretation.

Not all TVNZ's problems are his fault but Ralston has a rosy view of the three years when he controlled the budget of $50 million a year. He is talented, engaging and a good performer. There were one or two hints early on in his reign that he was making a difference.

It would be one thing if One News ratings crashed because of the adoption of a more thoughtful, intelligent form of news and current affairs. But the reality is that the ratings collapsed using the old TVNZ formula.

Funding self-promotion?

Does CanWest MediaWorks have indirect access to taxpayer money for its marketing budget? The new four-part TV3 documentary series Sex Wars features TV3 news anchor Hilary Barry, Petra Bagust, who has always been associated with TV3, and Kim Adamson and Jeremy Corbett from CanWest-owned More FM in Auckland.

New Zealand On Air gave the series $272,000 and in most part it is pleasant, light and breezy viewing. But it is also a big plug for CanWest personalities.

Sex Wars producer Rachel Jean of Isola Productions says there is no tie- up between high exposure for CanWest presenters and the series being backed by TV3, allowing it to apply for a New Zealand On Air subsidy.

She said that a few years ago the TV industry had policies about stars and which network they were associated with but that was no longer the case. Jean said Barry, Kim and Corbett all featured on a More FM radio show about the relationship between the sexes so that was why they featured. Maybe so. But that state-subsidised exposure would have been worth a lot to CanWest.

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