Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a journalist based in Auckland.

Australian critic roasts NZ television imports

The Almighty Johnsons was among the shows blasted by Australian writer Peter Munro. Photo/supplied
The Almighty Johnsons was among the shows blasted by Australian writer Peter Munro. Photo/supplied

An influx of "bad" Kiwi television across the ditch this summer has been slammed by an Australian writer who reckons he's had enough.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Munro said Australian channels were flooding the airwaves with New Zealand shows during the non-ratings holiday period.

He said there were "more bad Kiwi programmes on the box than you could poke a sheep at" - citing the likes of New Zealand reality show Wild Vets, fantasy series The Almighty Johnsons and drama series The Cult.

"Watching Australian television during the non-ratings period is like waking up in Whakatane, Waipu, Waikikamukau or any other patently made-up place in New Zealand," Munro said.

The transtasman imports on Australia's Channel Seven include The Cult and Coastwatch - a show about "fusheries" officers, according to Munro.

Over on Channel Ten, there's The Almighty Johnsons and psychic crime investigation show Sensing Murder.

Munro puts the Kiwi influx down to the 55 per cent Australian content quota that commercial television networks have to fulfil between 6am and midnight.

Under a transtasman trade agreement, New Zealand-made shows count as local Australian content.

More than a quarter of all "Australian" dramas aired on Ten in 2011 were from New Zealand, while Seven aired many Kiwi documentary series including Border Patrol.

Munro reckons most of them are worse than the shows made in Australia - the country whose most famous television export is the long-running weekday soap Neighbours.

"With the exception of well-received shows such as Outrageous Fortune, most are poor cousins of genuine Australian programming," he wrote.

"The networks save up such programs for the non-ratings period, when they don't seem to care that some locals are still watching TV. So we might be on the beach in Bondi but in TV land we're wearing jandals and packing Steinlagers in our chilly bins."

Faced with a choice between Shortland Street and Australian reality-drama series The Shire, Munro said he would "choose the genuine Aussie show every time".

"It's bad television, but at least it's our bad television."

He may not like Kiwi telly but, in a rare concession, Munro does give credit where credit is due.

"They gave us Russell Crowe, Split Enz, Phar Lap and pavlova," he writes. "And in return we gave their long-term unemployed access to our generous welfare system."

- APNZ

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