The Diary
Rachel Glucina looks at the top events and newsmakers of the day.

The Diary: Woman's touch tipped as answer for Campbell

TV3 seeks solutions as TV One hammers current affairs veteran

Some critics say John Campbell's show is too depressing. Photo / Greg Bowker
Some critics say John Campbell's show is too depressing. Photo / Greg Bowker

Is trouble brewing behind the scenes at MediaWorks about the state of current affairs on TV3? A well-informed source tells The Diary there is a level of concern at "very senior levels" about daily current events show Campbell Live and whether adding a female co-host could be a solution.

There's worry, too, about weekly current affairs show 3rd Degree, with stories deemed too long-winded and scarce for the midweek primetime slot. But insiders say the 60-minute local programme is resource-strapped.

Ratings are the golden measure of television and with TVNZ's Seven Sharp trouncing its rival in the 5+ demographic, programmers at TV3 are concerned about the effect the 7pm show has on ratings for the rest of the network's nightly viewing.

"Basically, if you don't deliver at 7pm, you're f***** for the rest of the night," one TV expert told The Diary.

Nielsen ratings show Seven Sharp had a 5+ audience of 540,930 on Tuesday night, beating Shortland Street (507,780) and thrashing Campbell Live (213,900).

TV3 says it is targeting the older 25-54 demographic, traditionally a TV One audience with big advertising spend.

The 18-39 age group was the big gravy train in the past, but that has changed. Alas, Seven Sharp is appealing to the 25-to-54s too.

The Diary understands suggestions have been made that Campbell Live should make changes and reinvent itself.

"The stories are often too depressing and need to be more uplifting and encompass the whole country. And there's been too much focus on earthquake gripes and hyperbolised accounts of the GSCB," said a source.

"Campbell Live is Grey Lynn TV that's used the situation in Christchurch to leverage a national audience, but that's a one-trick pony."

Being populist is essential in primetime, that's no secret. TVNZ changed course and reinvented its daily offering. Seven Sharp may not be the smartest show on television but it has broad appeal now.

Campbell Live may have stronger content with more robust interviews, but it has a packaging problem. Its stories and packaging do not have broad enough appeal.

The show's leanings, traditionally left, are also perhaps not in line with Kiwis' thought patterns - which are more upbeat and confident at the moment.

Missing too, is a female quotient. Toni Street has brought in a female demographic for TV One.

A TV insider credits this as probably Seven Sharp's greatest achievement.

"Seven Sharp is more likeable and less niche. Mike Hosking is good, and on a par with John [Campbell] but, really, their secret weapon is Toni Street ... Who doesn't love Toni?"

The Diary understands there is a growing opinion at TV3 owner MediaWorks that Campbell Live's problems could be solved if John Campbell got a co-host.

But who? Rachel Smalley and Rebecca Wright have left the show.

The rapport between Paul Henry and Janika ter Ellen on TV3's late-night news show is a proven success. Finding that X-factor for the 7pm offering may be a bit more tricky.

MediaWorks did not wish to comment.

Obeying the rules

The English lads relax at Hanmer Springs... Good behaviour has meant not a hint of scandal on their tour, and the rugby's been good.

Being an international rugby star can be tough business, which is why members of England's team took time out to splash and bathe in the relaxing surrounds of Hanmer's thermal spring pools this week.

Bare-chested and buffed, the boys posed with their arms around each other in true bromance form.

It's a far cry from their last trip Downunder, when skipper Mike Tindall scored headlines for all the wrong reasons. This time, England management has been keeping a keen eye on the players. Sources say they have had escorts and chaperones watching out for trouble when they leave the safety of the team compound.

Alas, that means diddly squat on the scandal front. And they're playing good rugby.

Questions of the week

1. Which under-siege politician sent text messages to an editor congratulating him/her on an award he/she didn't win? Doh.

2. America's Cup winning skipper James Spithill is keen to take on Dean Barker in the ring for a Duco charity boxing match. Could that charity be Team NZ?

3. Kim Dotcom has been branded the most damaging force in New Zealand politics, but shouldn't that title go to Donghua Liu? The scalps are mounting.

4. If Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom are the two least trusted on a list of 100 New Zealanders, according to Reader's Digest, should they be partnering in politics?

5. Many happy returns to anchorman Simon Dallow, who is at a resort in New Caledonia this week celebrating his 50th birthday. Will he make it a double celebration and propose to his longtime girlfriend?

- NZ Herald

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