John Drinnan 's Opinion

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

John Drinnan: Campbell congrats for Key

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What John Campbell has to say about his encounter with John Key.

John Key's performance on Campbell Live has been praised by the host.
John Key's performance on Campbell Live has been praised by the host.

Key v Campbell

John Campbell is congratulating John Key for a magnificent political performance on Wednesday in an interview on the GCSB Bill.

"In terms of the politics of the interview the Prime Minister was absolutely brilliant," he said.

Comments by Campbell - who looked exasperated at times - added to the view that Key was in charge.

Indeed it was as much a case of Key making the most of the age-old techniques of political spin as it was Campbell crashing by misreading the signs.

"There were moments when I found the Prime Minister frustratingly not answering the question but looking for all intents and purposes like he was," Campbell said.

He said he was pleased that he had forced Key to front up on a major topic that he had refused to deal with in the past.

For supporters of Key, the bravura performance backed up the view New Zealanders have nothing to worry about in the GCSB Bill. Campbell accentuated the positive for Campbell Live.

"The Prime Minister was on prime time for 17 minutes answering concerns - and that is f***ing phenomenal," Campbell said.

"Even if people thought the Prime Minister was fantastic in the interview and did not like me and are screaming John Campbell is a w***er."

Campbell did not believe he had underestimated the PM.

As of 10.30am yesterday morning, Campbell had not re-examined the interview.

"If you think they went well, you become self-aware and arch. If you think it went badly you are crippled by it," he said.

"Sometimes in a relationship with a politician the knife is inserted between the ribs [of the interviewer] in a most magnificent fashion and that is fine.

"Good on the Prime Minister for getting one in," said the TV3 interviewer.

Read more:

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Key pledges to restrict spy agency's probe rights

Key lessons

A respected media trainer in the corporate world, Greg Ward, said that smiling on screen could make people look smug. But in the Campbell Live interview it came across as self-confident.

Ward notes Key's strengths:

• Key opened with the catchy comparison between Snapper vs GCSB. People will like it. People will remember it. It has the common touch.

• He insisted on finishing his responses for the benefit of the audience, not Campbell.

• Key took control by hitting back at claims of reluctance to engage.

• He used simple examples with everyday language, but he could have used more.

• He used strong eye contact and open-palm gestures to show authority and sincerity.

And Key's turnoffs:

• Incessantly saying okay.

• Being too blunt and patronising with critics. Many viewers will worry these commentators can't all be wrong. Key needs to highlight why they are wrong and show some empathy.

According to Ward, Campbell came across as rattled, frustrated and even exasperated. Surprising really, considering all the ammunition he had at his disposal.

"For viewers watching with little or no volume [for example in a pub or multitasking at home], Key appeared calm and determined while Campbell appeared distracted and aggressive."

Banks in charge

The bankers are still running TV3, Four and the MediaWorks radio empire.

Receivers at KordaMentha announced yesterday the company would be taken over by a new company, MediaWorks Holdings, on September 30 - owned by lenders who swapped debt for equity.

US private equity firm Oaktree Capital emerges as the biggest shareholder with 26.7 per cent. Lender RBS will hold 21.9 per cent, private equity firm TPG Capital 15.7 per cent, Westpac Banking Corp and Rabobank each will hold 14.6 per cent, and JPMorgan will hold 6.5 per cent.

But there are no new investors, and three directors appointed to the board at the new company will not have any shares in the new firm.

One of the three is director Julie Christie, who has a strong reputation in commercial television production and is taking a big interest in the future of TV3 and Four.

The other two are chairman Rod McGeoch and former Channel Nine-PBL director Martin Dalgliesh.

All three directors are expected to be paid with shares to get the company - stripped of its burdensome debt - returning to good net profits.

Big changes are expected including closer links between the newsrooms at TV3 and RadioLive. Management promises no planned cutbacks on its acclaimed news operations and TV3 is still committed to drama.

The new capital structure will cut the broadcaster's debt from $500 million to less than $100 million.

It's a fresh start.

C-Span dropped

Radio New Zealand appears to have missed the boat over proposals to take over Parliamentary TV and expand into a wider C-Span style public service TV channel. The proposal had been promoted by the RNZ board and budgets were submitted to the Government.

However, RNZ chairman Richard Griffin said he had been told RNZ's proposal had not been successful.

The Parliamentary TV contract is expected to be handed to the current contractor, the lines company Kordia TV.

A source at RNZ said there had been a lack of enthusiasm for the project among management and that the proposal had not been competitively priced.

RNZ chief executive Peter Cavanagh stepped down recently and Paul Thompson is to take over in the next few weeks.

Morning glory

NewstalkZB is hinting there may be some linkage between the new 5am show to be presented by Rachel Smalley and the main Breakfast show hosted by Mike Hosking.

The Radio Network chief content officer Dean Buchanan said the new show would start in September and would offer a wrap on what people needed to know at the start of the day, but he saw prospects for crossovers between the two shows.

The new programme - and Smalley's departure from TV3's Firstline part way through her contract - have raised eyebrows.

At 5.30am you imagine most listeners will be farmers, courier drivers or people going to the airport to catch early flights.

Buchanan said that early morning audiences were comparable to 4.30pm drive time, but surprisingly had not been well served in the past.

Meanwhile, it seems that there may be a long delay before TRN gets to use the talent it has poached from MediaWorks' The Edge - Carl Fletcher and Vaughan Smith.

Fletcher and Smith - who are expected to start on air at TRN next year - were initially taken off air by MediaWorks for one week, but are back onair.

The Auckland radio market is currently two weeks into a six-week ratings survey, so it is perhaps understandable that MediaWorks would not want to take them off air.

But how will advertisers view the ratings given that they are leaving?

Lorde, Lorde

Three cheers for Lorde - the 16-year-old Cheltenham Beach singer songwriter - who is attracting positive reviews for her performances and topped the alternative music charts in the United States.

Lorde, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O'Connor, has been picked up by Universal Music and clearly has the talent for commercial success.

And one of the good things about her success has been that she has neither sought nor obtained media funding from the taxpayer through New Zealand On Air or the New Zealand Music Commission.

- 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.

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