The Radio Network has made its peace with former ZM/FM shock jock Iain Stables.

After being dropped from his popular show 2 years ago following a meltdown, Stables looks set to host a show on TRN's revamped Radio Hauraki.

He would make sense for Hauraki, which is trying to break the dominance of MediaWorks' rock format station The Rock.

But is he the same sometimes-brilliant-but-sometimes-hard-to-manage prankster who attracted followers and radio awards in the past?

TRN programming and marketing director David Brice confirmed he is looking at changes to Hauraki to perform better against The Rock.

But he played down TRN opening the door to Stables.

After a break from radio in the wake of a meltdown in his relationship with TRN, Stables has been working at the tiny Wellington indie station HitX105 FM that started this year.

Stables is expected to start at TRN after the radio ratings survey from August 14 to September 24.

There would be no changes at Hauraki before the ratings survey.

"At this time Stables is not joining Hauraki," he said. But "personnel changes are always a possibility".

ON THE TROTT

A prankster like Stables could be a good fit for Hauraki.

He has the sort of rock'n'roll edge that would revive a brand that has sounded a little tired.

Another name being mentioned is Nick Trott, a one-time The Rock breakfast DJ who moved to the Waikato for lifestyle reasons and worked briefly with More FM. Maybe they could be a double act.

Where would you put them? Stables has worked in afternoon drivetime at ZM and previously The Edge, so a radio source said he might replace Hauraki's Nik Brown.

Brown is a veteran broadcaster who is known as the Voice of Ericsson Stadium for the Warriors. What about breakfast and the Radio Hauraki pirates?

Maybe Trott could could face off against Breakfast Rumble on The Rock - whose website features a "Rack of the Week" inviting people to match celebrities to pictures of mammaries.

SOUNDS LIKE RNZ

So much for the Radio New Zealand's "Sounds Like Us" slogan.

I hear that Aussie chief executive Peter Cavanagh is advertising overseas to find a replacement for Sean Plunket, and that Anita McNaught's name has been mentioned in dispatches. I haven't noticed any ads in the local paper.

McNaught - who was last heard as Istanbul correspondent on Al Jazeera - has apparently indicated interest in radio.

But she hardly has a face for radio and how long would it be until she were whisked off to TV?

What about TVNZ political editor Guyon Espiner? He is very good, and tipped for the job. But he is such a TV face, and is not known as a morning person.

Gossip is that he might not fit with co-presenter Geoff Robinson. But Robinson won't be at RNZ forever - and it would be a shame if the future of Morning Report became caught up in "who would work with Geoff".

The most favoured internal candidate is political reporter Julian Robins.

MILKED

TV3 says that - if necessary - it would step in for the independent production company Front Page to ensure coverage on any issue involving Fonterra.

News and current affairs director Mark Jennings acknowledged that TV3's weekend current affairs show The Nation is unable to cover stories involving Fonterra because the dairy giant provides much of Front Page's business.

The Nation is wholly funded by the taxpayer through New Zealand On Air. Jennings said Front Page owner and The Nation producer Richard Harman had advised of the potential conflict of interest.

Harman said Fonterra is off limits but Front Page would be able to cover political issues involving dairy.

Jennings said if it became apparent there was a major issue or story involving Fonterra, it could be covered on other shows like Campbell Live.

If Front Page were unable TV3 could step in and produce a show itself, he said.

Meanwhile, Jennings was also comfortable with the arrangement with new presenter Sean Plunket, who will join the show next month and will be leaving his job as longtime presenter of Radio New Zealand's Morning Report.

Plunket is also in the middle of negotiations with Matthew Hooton, a right wing political pundit and PR man, to provide media training.

Jennings said Plunket would advise of any conflict between commercial clients and his role on The Nation.

But he acknowledged those potential conflicts would not be divulged to viewers. New Zealand On Air - which pays for The Nation - says it cannot have any role in the editorial content.

Jennings says he'd like to say it is not true, but the cross media ownership in New Zealand means there are limited options for people.

No disrespect to Plunket - or Harman.

But in other countries broadcasters would subsidise the cost of its political interviewers so that they did not have to hawk their skills on the commercial market and open up the potential for commercial conflicts.

As with so many aspects for the dire state of TV current affairs in this country, New Zealanders are handed second best - with an independent company that has a conflict with its commercial clients and a broadcaster who will earn a crust by selling skills on how to answer the hard questions. Maybe independent production companies should not do current affairs.


WHO'S PAYING?

It's hard to know TVNZ's attitude to its news presenters providing media training.

State TV is hardly unequivocal about outside works.

It's not just presenters. Even Maori TV executive Carol Hirschfeld turned up as facilitator for a working group which, according to Herald political correspondent John Armstrong, critics saw as a vehicle for the beneficiary-bashing necessary to soften up the public to the merits of restructuring.

Call me old fashioned, but television seems to be have thrown in the towel on these issues. It's the same with the constant current affairs plugs for their TV shows and the onward march of advertorial.

Television New Zealand bosses are busy erasing the line between editorial content.

Pippa Wetzell maintains a profile with current affairs while presenting Breakfast - a show that liberally mixes advertiser supplied content with magazine programming.

Later in the day Haydn Jones is a presenter on Good Morning while he maintains his weekly "Good Sorts" spot on One News.

The weird juxtaposition is even more apparent with TVNZ Hollywood correspondent Dominic Bowden, who is fronting a TV commercial for Lotto that trades off his position. TVNZ says Bowden is a freelancer and he sought and won approval to do the ad.

Advertising. News. Promotion. The state broadcaster seems to believe it's all the same.


This story has been corrected from an earlier version.
Broadcaster Paul Holmes says he has not "done some work for John Key in recent years," as originally stated. Nicky Hager's book "The Hollow Men" said Holmes had given unpaid advice to former Opposition leader Don Brash in 2005.