Matt Nippert is a business investigations reporter.

'Sad' end for TV3 brand

MediaWorks' imminent canning of its 3 News brand in favour of a new, cross-platform Newshub service has been described as both "bold" and "sad" by industry observers.

The move, which will see current anchors Mike McRoberts and Hilary Barry present "Newshub Live" on weeknight at six o'clock from February 1, had been signalled by MediaWorks in an announcement in October and follows the merging of the networks' advertising sales desks.

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In a statement today the company's head of news Mark Jennings said the move would centralise the networks' news-gathering.

Media commentator Bill Ralston, who joined 3 News at the same time as Jennings in 1989 when the channel was founded, said he was emotional when he heard the end of the service was nigh.

"It was quite a sad reaction I had. It had always been he little newsroom that tried and for many years it had been quite strong. When they renamed it Newshub they must have decided there was no value left," he said.

Whether the move was commercially successful would largely depend on whether the new product received enough marketing support and could attract more viewers, Ralston said.

"The ability to sell advertising relies almost entirely on ratings. By merging the advertising departments they can do deals on different platforms but, by-and-large, the damn thing will have to rate."

Stoppress editor Damien Venuto was more optimistic that the Newshub launch, along with related internal restructuring, would bear fruit for MediaWorks.

They said in the past various discrete parts of the business would compete with each other for advertising.

Venuto said the loss of the 3 News brand was "difficult to quantify" but the company may have felt their hand was forced.

"The ratings weren't that great over the past year, and it's a bold move too shake things up like this. At least they're trying something: If they'd done nothing and stagnated, that definitely wouldn't have made a difference."

The news and current affairs division at TV3 has had a tumultuous past year with declining ratings leading to the axing of Campbell Live and 3D.

Chief executive Mark Weldon has pinned hopes for reviving the division on the Newshub project and recently-launched programmes Newsworthy and Paul Henry. He told Stoppress last year the Newshub project involved capital expenditure of "many millions" of dollars.

The Herald reported earlier this month the company's owner, Oaktree Capital, appeared to have injected $17m into the business to pay down bank debt.

- NZ Herald

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