John Drinnan 's Opinion

John Drinnan is the Media writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Media: One's news gurus on block

20 comments
Are these the dying days of the 'live cross' ? One News reporter Kim Vinnell live in downtown Tauranga during the Rugby World Cup final game festivities. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times
Are these the dying days of the 'live cross' ? One News reporter Kim Vinnell live in downtown Tauranga during the Rugby World Cup final game festivities. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times

These may be the dying days of the overbearing "live cross" to Television New Zealand reporters in the field.

You know, the coiffed reporters looking lost in front of a closed courthouse, waving hands like a windmill. Or the comical image of Matt McLean, with undampened spirit, soaked and wading knee-deep through mud.

TVNZ news and current affairs boss Ross Dagan is reviewing the use of the $1-million-a-year news consultants, Frank Magid & Associates. Magid is the architect consultant for this style of news on TVNZ.

For 20 years, on and off, Magid has played a big part in the look and style of One News - and its influence has been huge for the past five years.

"Magid makes news bulletins that are more about the sizzle than the sausage," said a former One news executive who would not be named.

"It's about the packaging, pacing and the style - everything is exclusive and 'happening now' when the news might have been announced eight hours before.

"Bulletins are entertainment so packaging is part of it, but it has just gone through the roof."

Dagan said: "It's a good idea for a new set of eyes [on what you do] ... but you have to look at whether the advice is relevant and using them is a wise use of our money."

Former TVNZ head of news and current affairs Bill Ralston said the consultants charged about $1 million a year.

MILLION DOLLAR MAGID

Magid and others used by the news department have had an impact on the consultancy bill at TVNZ as a whole. The Magid explosion occurred during the era of Dagan's predecessor Anthony Flannery, who has now moved on to Network Ten in Australia.

Information obtained under the Official Information Act showed TVNZ as a whole - not just news - spent $3.49 million on consultants in 2010-11, compared with $2.85 million the previous year and $1.22 million for the 2008-2009 year.

SOUTHERN TREME

TV funding agency New Zealand On Air has increased the share of its money allocated to drama.

Five hours of documentary can be made for the same price as an hour of drama.

Some would say that this is a good thing and argue drama has a rich cultural value. Beyond that, you might wonder what sort of TV drama attracts the support of the TV networks and, as one producer pointed out, TVNZ and TV3 nowadays tend to want light, cheery dramas like Go Girls.

Which probably explains why nobody has come up with a TV show about the most dramatic event in New Zealand's recent history - the Christchurch earthquake. HBO has won critical acclaim for its series Treme, set in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

But despite being a pivotal point in our history, the ongoing reality of the quake has never been considered for a drama funded by New Zealand On Air.

TV drama supremo John Barnett of South Pacific Pictures said that one of the problems would be the time it took to get started but he agreed there would be a lot of stories associated with the quake.

He thought a Kiwi Treme might fit into the same sort of demographic as something like Underbelly.

Another producer was more sceptical, saying the subject matter of a community recovering from the quake would be far too grim for commercial networks to approve.

MEDIA3

NZ On Air has announced funding for Media3, formerly Media7. The Top Shelf-produced programme examining local media will move to TV3 on Saturday mornings in August with an encore screening late on Sunday evenings. It will also be available on demand at tv3.co.nz.

TURNER EXITS BOARD

Two top executives at MediaWorks have gone from the board and its subsidiary companies, suggesting more changes ahead at the media firm that owns TV3, Four and reaches half the country's radio audience. They remain as executives for the company.

On May 16, chief executive and managing director Sussan Turner and chief financial officer Peter Crossan stepped down from the boards.

In their place, controlling shareholder Ironbridge Capital now has two of its own, Kerry McIntosh and Michael Hill.

New Zealander Brent Harman remains on the board of MediaWorks, said company secretary Clare Bradley.

Ironbridge's public relations consultant Geoff Senescall shrugged off the departure of the local directors, saying the change would allow Turner and Crossan to concentrate on the day-to-day business and profitability.

However, the change comes amid renewed upheavals and complex talks between Ironbridge and banker investors about the indebtedness of MediaWorks.

Private equity company TPG has renewed its approaches to buy the debt in MediaWorks, a process that if completed might eventually see Ironbridge shut out of the firm.

In March this year, MediaWorks announced a restructuring that would shut out second-tier debtors, pay off $30 million owed to the Government and give additional money for programming.

However, that deal has not been signed off by all bankers. TPG has now resumed approaches to banks to buy up debt, though at a considerably lower value than before.

DEVLIN FOR SPORT?

The Radio Network has rejected plans for personality changes to Radio Sport now it is going FM from June 30.

But it is understood to have approached Martin Devlin to jump ship from RadioLive.

Devlin provides sports commentary on Marcus Lush's show as well as doing stints for Sky and TVNZ. Despite a troubled time at Radio Sport in the past, in my opinion he could be a good balance for breakfast host Tony Veitch.

One radio industry source suggested that they might mix and match with one featuring on weekday mornings and the other on the weekend.

EASY COME, EASY GO

Radio Sport will take over frequencies from TRN's easy listening station Easy Mix, which closes on June 22. TRN says it hopes the Easy Mix audience - older females - will shift to Classic Hits and the even older-oriented Coast.

TRN talk radio boss Dallas Gurney said the goal was to grow Radio Sport to be the clear number two commercial talk network.

A radio industry source said the handling of the easy listening market with Easy Mix had not been TRN's finest hour. It was the legacy of great talk network Radio i - a financial money spinner that did not adjust well when it was changed to Viva.

The format was championed by the United States company Clear Channel Communications, which owns half of TRN, with the rest held by APN.

Meanwhile, rival broadcaster MediaWorks developed The Breeze, which was very strong in Wellington. TRN eventually turned Viva back into Easy Mix, but it never worked out.

- NZ Herald

John Drinnan

John Drinnan is the Media writer for the New Zealand Herald.

John Drinnan is the media writer for the New Zealand Herald. A business journalist for twenty years, he has been editor of the specialist film and television title "Screen Finance" in London, focussing on the European TV and film industry. He has been writing about media in New Zealand since the deregulation of the television industry in the late 1980s. He is focused on the business side of the digital revolution in media.

Read more by John Drinnan

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 15 Jul 2014 00:49:06 Processing Time: 884ms