Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Shopping Channel cuts staff and courts ads

Presenter Candy Lane does not know if she will return to The Shopping Channel.
Presenter Candy Lane does not know if she will return to The Shopping Channel.

The fledgling Shopping Channel has sacked presenters and slashed its advertising rates to the extent that advertisers can "name their price".

But the channel's public relations consultants say they are just teething problems, and the channel is in good health.

One source said Sally Ridge, Anna Jobsz and food presenter Luca Villari had not had their contracts renewed.

Another presenter, Candy Lane, said she had taken leave to direct the dance routines on New Zealand's Got Talent and did not know whether she would be returning to the Shopping Channel in January. "Hopefully the cuts will help them with the cost so they can bring the team back together in the new year," Lane said.

Ridge declined to comment yesterday.

Jobsz said: "While I'm disappointed that I'm not on air, I can understand the need to create a model that works for them and I've been assured they will use me again once their filming days increase, which they hope will be soon.

"I really enjoyed my time learning with all the presenters and production team - a truly great bunch of people. So I hope the Shopping Channel is able to ramp things back up soon."

Presenter Mike Puru said his position was not affected.

"I'm sweet as," he said. "There have been some slight tweaks and that's all about making sure the channel's working for everyone.

"It's been good fun for me - I love chatting to people."

The channel launched in a flurry of publicity two months ago, and brought out Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria for a press conference and on-screen slot. But the channel has now reduced filming from six days to two.

An advertising source said: "I have heard things aren't going well, and only a handful of advertisers have done anything on the channel.

"It's the issue of ever-tightening budgets and the fear of putting money behind something that's new, unproven and hard to measure in terms of who and how many people are watching," the source said.

"They are offering really cheap rates to get on air, and this will be in part to get advertisers on board and also, possibly, because they're really struggling so have to offer crazy rates in the hope some people will take them up on it.

"I would say you could almost name your price at the moment."

The Shopping Channel's spokeswoman, Bullet PR's Megan Stuart, said it would be naive to expect that the model first taken to market would require no adjustment.

"The strengths of The Shopping Channel's operating model is that it is extremely flexible and enables them to constantly try different ways of doings things."

She said The Shopping Channel now required presenters to adopt a more powerful selling style on air.

- Herald on Sunday

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