John Campbell has thanked fans for the support they've shown following news his current affairs programme may be on the chopping block.
The veteran journalist has posted a message on the Campbell Live Twitter page; saying: "Thank you all so much for your support. Please watch tonight.''
TV3 bosses told Campbell Live staff the channel is thinking of canning the current affairs show for a daily entertainment show, with some speculating a Jono and Ben-style show could be a replacement.
That is one of the options in a "consultative document" handed out yesterday, which left Campbell Live staff shell-shocked.
Jono and Ben have tweeted they had no idea their show might be in to replace the Campbell Live timeslot.
"We've read that we're rumoured to replace @CampbellLiveNZ. Just want to say on record this is honestly the first we've heard of this.''
The move follows a period of poor ratings at the show and TV3's drift away from news and into entertainment.
A TV3 source said Campbell Live staff turned up at the regular editorial meeting and were met by the head of news and current affairs, Mark Jennings, and a human resources legal representative.
One TV3 staffer told the Herald that while the document suggested options, staff felt closure was inevitable because the programme did not have the support of chief executive Mark Weldon and MediaWorks director Julie Christie.
The document asked: "Is the 7pm slot still the right time for hard-hitting current affairs in the changing landscape of media consumption?"
It listed as one of the options bringing back Campbell's show in its present format, or an amended one. Other options were for a Jono and Ben-style entertainment show or a tabloid-style factual show akin to Hard Copy.
Insiders said that Campbell has been visibly stressed in recent weeks.
While staff said the initiative came out of the blue, the show has been under intense pressure since the arrival of Weldon, who is a big fan of Paul Henry.
Christie has indicated that she is not a big fan of Campbell, though the show has survived thanks to strong advertiser support.
The consultative document said no part of the MediaWorks schedule was outside the gamut of the review and staff approached by the Herald believed MediaWorks is looking at implementing changes this year, not next.
MediaWorks has denied the Jono and Ben show had been considered as a possible replacement for Campbell Live. MediaWorks corporate counsel Alex Nicholson issued a statement today saying:
"Jono and Ben has never once been mentioned in any MediaWorks management forum, discussion or document as a possible replacement for Campbell Live. "Mark Jennings added: "Campbell Live is one of the mainstays of New Zealand media and has been at the forefront of New Zealand's news and current affairs landscape for a decade.
"John Campbell and Campbell Live have won every award possible, broken some of the most important stories of the decade, repeatedly been voted most popular current affairs presenter and programme, and made a real difference to Kiwis' lives."
But Herald media columnist John Drinnan, who helped break the story yesterday, said that the option of a Jono and Ben-style or Hard Copy-style show came up in a discussion of the document released to staff yesterday led by the TV3 head of news and current affairs, Mark Jennings.
It was one of the options canvassed. "There may be other options to make a Jono and Ben-style show."
The #SaveCampbellLive tag has taken off on Twitter: