The Prime News deal announced last week has warmed the relationship between Sky TV and MediaWorks at a time when the traditional media sector is being polarised into two camps.

Sky is moving its outsourced local news operation at Prime from Sky Australia - where it has been for more than a decade - to MediaWorks, the owner of TV3. Prime News presenter Eric Young is making the shift and from March 1 the show will be made alongside 3 News at MediaWorks' Flower St studios, in Eden Tce.

Sky TV had considered proposals from Sky Australia for an upgraded, and more expensive, news show. But they did not make financial sense and Sky TV did not want to entrench itself further into the news business.

Sky Australia had also been keen to develop more weekly current affairs content - in politics or sport, for instance - and Sky TV had had talks with other news operations. Sky TV chief executive John Fellet said he was still keen on that, but Prime would continue to have "bread and butter news and that is the way we like it".


MediaWorks negotiated for Young to be allowed out of his commitments with Sky Australia, and he will make the move to TV3, but other staff will have to apply for jobs in the new set-up.

MediaWorks said the deal was strategically significant. It is linked to the move to a common newsroom serving TV3 and RadioLive.

MediaWorks has also announced closer news ties with the Indian radio operation Radio Tarana, and has always maintained ties with the Maori TV news programme Te Kaea, so the move entrenches news as a key part of the MediaWorks proposition. MediaWorks news boss Mark Jennings insisted that Prime News would continue to have its own producer, but confirmed that at times MediaWorks reporters would appear on Prime News.

He acknowledged the deal meant the loss of a distinct voice, but said decisions on Prime News had largely been made out of Sky's Sydney office for a long time.

Eyebrows were raised this week when MediaWorks announced it is taking over the rights to the BBC motoring show Top Gear, which has previously appeared on Prime.

Fellet said the two programming changes were not connected. "Top Gear was up for grabs and they were willing to pay more," he said.

The show has rated well for Prime, and will be valuable for TV3, especially in early primetime which is dominated by reality shows.

Close encounters

But movement in New Zealand's traditional media and coverage of news is about more than just working with "frenemies" - co-operating in some areas with firms who are otherwise your competitors.


Indeed, New Zealand corporate media appear to be splitting into two distinct camps, with growing distance between two of the central players - MediaWorks and NZME.

Well-placed sources say that beyond the new links with Sky TV, MediaWorks has also developed closer editorial links with Fairfax Media.

Meanwhile, it is understood that NZME. has developed a relationship with TVNZ, with Seven Sharp presenter Heather du Plessis-Allan writing a column for the Herald on Sunday, joining Mike Hosking in the Herald.

These companies' quest for new investment has had a polarising effect that could change the media landscape in New Zealand.

Both firms have been investigating floats or partial floats.

MediaWorks recently emerged from receivership and has made no secret of the fact that it is looking for new investors.

For its part, NZME. was split out of the New Zealand assets of APN News & Media.

Both MediaWorks and NZME. are working on closer relationships between their own cross-media arms - for editorial content as well as advertising sales - with a special focus on the intense competition in commercial radio.

This two-way split has been exaggerated by the structure of the unregulated industry.

New Zealand is unique in the Western world in having no rules about cross-media ownership, and that has added to the growing sense of a two-way split in the industry.

The arrival of new players such as Google, Facebook and Twitter is exacerbating that trend.

The clash is illustrated by MediaWorks' plans for the new Paul Henry breakfast show, which will be simulcast on radio and TV. MediaWorks aims to compete for viewers and advertising against TV One's Breakfast, but also against Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, who is dominant on weekday morning radio.

I hasten to add that while I write for the Herald, I have been given no inside knowledge on NZME.'s strategies.

Sing a Song

Jane Sweeney.

I was happy to chat with Jane Sweeney about the state of public relations and her own agency - called Anthem - at a bar and eatery near the Wynyard Quarter. It was a glorious balmy summer's afternoon, she was keen the interview be held outdoors, and I was not arguing.

I was impressed by her panache when she ordered Stella Artois and a glass of Chardonnay. "You speak the French very well, madame," noted the French waiter, who seemed genuinely impressed.

"I was New Zealand Trade Commissioner in Paris, that is why," she chuckled. Indeed, she speaks French fluently. Before Paris she headed a top 10 PR agency in London, and since returning she has led some of New Zealand's biggest agencies. Her reputation has been in management, at the corporate end of the business, having headed Consultus and, for nine years until 2013, running the Clemenger-owned agency Porter Novelli.

She was also a founder, director and shareholder of the Acumen Republic Group of companies.

Sweeney said she had wanted to break out into her own agency for a long time, and now she had one, felt more confident than ever that the future lay with independents rather than PR houses attached to advertising agencies.

Anthem will cover the gamut of the business including marketing communications.

Public relations agencies come and go, but Anthem has created something of a noise. Its clients include Visa, ASB, Bupa and Auckland International Airport, among others.

New cliches, please

Congratulations to RadioLive talkback host Sean Plunket for calling Eleanor Catton a "traitor" for criticising New Zealand overseas - and sparking an intriguing, if inconclusive, discussion on the meaning of the word "hua".

It was inane, inflammatory and childish - in the fine traditions of talkback radio - and no doubt got him noticed by MediaWorks CEO Mark Weldon as he plans a shake-up of the company's radio and TV operations.

Commiserations to Man Booker Prize-winning author Catton, who copped the flak for her statements in India, when she has a perfect right to say what she thought.

But a writer of her stature let herself down by dragging out the tired old trope about New Zealand having a "Tall Poppy Syndrome" after her novel The Luminaries missed out on the supreme prize at last year's NZ Post Book Awards.

Surely a writer of Catton's stature could have created a better cliche to proclaim that people were not showing her enough respect.