John Drinnan

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

Seven Sharp 'crap' says former TVNZ programmer

TVNZ's Seven Sharp team: From left: Greg Boyed, Ali Mau, and Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Supplied
TVNZ's Seven Sharp team: From left: Greg Boyed, Ali Mau, and Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Supplied

A former head of TVNZ programming who was once attacked for taking the company down a commercial path - John McCready - has dismissed Seven Sharp as "crap and a huge mistake" .

McCready has backed a blog by the commentator Brian Edwards, who was once one of his own critics.

"Past directors of TVNZ news would never have allowed such a programme to be credited to their department, in my view." he said.

On Friday the TV One 7pm show reached an all-time low of 242,400 viewers compared to 298,800 for TV3's Campbell Live raising questions how long it would go down before management or the board intervened.

"The biggest mistake a TV programmer can make is not correcting a programming mistake, McCready said in a later posting.

It is only the second night TV3 has beaten TV One in the audience aged over five years.

The first time was with Seven Sharp the same week.

During the 1990s John McCready was New Zealand's most controversial TV executives during the 1990s, when he was the powerful head of programming blamed for the "dumbing down" of TVNZ.

The then head of news and current Paul Norris fought attempts to make shows more lightweight and commercial.

A former senior journalist for the Sunday programme Janet Wilson has also alleged that non-news and current affairs management has been involved in editorial decisions for the show.

Wilson is the partner of TVNZ former head of news and current affairs Bill Ralston.

In an open letter to the chief executive Kevin Kenrick, head of television Jeff Latch and head of acquisitions Andrew Shaw, Wilson said: "Is it true that all of you were involved in every aspect of the programme from inception, including deciding which stories went where in the first week, breaking a principle that non-news staff should not be involved in news decisions?" she wrote.

The claim of marketing involvement in news was rejected by head of television Jeff Latch, but he acknowledged he had input into the show. TVNZ said critics of the management approach did not understand the degree that a new show Seven Sharp nowadays was "collaborative."

TV3 head of news and current affairs Mark Jennings said Campbell Live was benefiting from Seven Sharp which was a "monumental event" .

TV3 News had enjoyed the benefits of monumental changes at TVNZ, with the hiring of John Hawkesby over Richard Long, and the departure of Judy Bailey.

He could not comment about the allegations, but said he would not accept company management being involved in news decisions.

"Part of the problem when you mix current affairs with comedy about when such intervention is okay. In this case in my view it is not current affairs," he said.

McCready, when asked how advertisers would react, McCready said: "I would imagine that discussions are taking place and 'make good' spots either being offered or sought. However, the major sponsor surely knew what the format was likely to produce. The sponsors' rep must be feeling the heat too."

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