TVNZ item about boxer used to promote Burger King

TVNZ News has defended its live broadcast cross to boxer Joseph Parker - including plugs for his fast food supporters.

The item on Tuesday included light banter, but was also used to promote Burger King products.

TVNZ said it would not have allowed the unusual Burger King plugs if the item had not been on live TV, but in my opinion the breach of rules was predictable and ham-fisted.

Commercial news or promotional content has become commonplace in some media, but the mention of Burger King seemed to be unusually clumsy, given that the state broadcaster has kept a close eye on promotional plugs.

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"Joseph Parker is the biggest sport story in New Zealand this week and we are tracking his progress in the lead up [to the world title fight on] Saturday," said TVNZ spokeswoman Georgie Hills.

"At no point has special editorial consideration been given to the fight's sponsors or the event organisers," said Hills.

"During his live interview [Parker] gave a plug for the sponsor's product.

"If this was a pre-recorded interview it wouldn't have made the final cut because it wasn't relevant in a sports news context." Hills rejected my suggestion that the TVNZ reporter provided the lead-in to the product plugs.

Newsroom Stuff

The planned online news website Newsroom has unveiled commercial arrangements with Fairfax Media, which will see the Stuff website running up to two items of Newsroom video or text content per day.

Newsroom, which plans to be up and running by March, is owned by former MediaWorks head of news and current affairs, Mark Jennings, and former Herald editor-in-chief Tim Murphy.

Murphy has been reported as saying the link with Fairfax is based on the media relationship he and Jennings have with Fairfax group executive editor Sinead Boucher.

The Newsroom-Stuff arrangement signals a trend for new media platforms working alongside more established corporate media firms. Independent companies such as BusinessDesk, which provides business content, have worked across platforms for a long time.

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At no point has special editorial consideration been given to the fight's sponsors or the event organisers.

Elsewhere, major restructuring is possible, involving corporates such as NZME, Fairfax, Vodafone and Sky, as well as talks between Spark and TVNZ, among other moves.

A fast-changing media scene is also apparent with the development of new current affairs platforms such as Bauer Media's Noted website, and even the new alternative current affairs Viceland channel on Sky TV.

The arrival of new players will be used to promote the view of Fairfax and NZME, that their proposed merger will not undermine the number of voices in the media. However, the financial foundation for these new media models is still being developed.

Spinoff talks

Another website, The Spinoff, has made inroads by delivering pop culture and opinion content. Newsroom founder Mark Jennings expects Newsroom will work with The Spinoff in the future.

This week The Spinoff owner Duncan Greive issued a statement disclosing past discussions with Jennings and Murphy. As you would expect in New Zealand's close-knit media scene, there are links between some of the individuals involved.

Greive's statement said The Spinoff had "spent a number of months this year engaged in a conversation with Jennings and Murphy about how we might fold a news operation into our emerging online magazine.

"These talks were more than cursory - they spanned a number of months, senior editor Toby Manhire and I discussed business models, editorial partnerships and recruitment targets with the pair. At its peak we debated at length company structures and equity arrangements. There was no formal conclusion to discussions."

Greive said that more recently, former Sunday Star-Times editor Cate Brett had offered an interview with Jennings and Murphy - an item that now appears on The Spinoff.

In writing the piece, Brett acknowledged conflicts of interest, due to her past role working for Fairfax. She was "an admirer and friend of Mark Jennings; a nemesis of Tim Murphy" as well as "a friend of Toby Manhire and Duncan Greive at the Spinoff."

Saying sorry

Campbell Live

had many passionate supporters. However, there was an unfortunate blast from the show's past on Tuesday, when MediaWorks offered an abject on-air apology for a story that ran in 2011. See it

.

The apology was linked to a dispute between TV3, the Valley Animal Research Centre and a former director of the centre, Margaret Harkema. In February last year, the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) found the item was unfair, misleading and included serious breaches of privacy.

At the time, the BSA did not make an order for a statement to be broadcast. But the statement this week is linked to separate discussions between the complainant and TV3.

The BSA referred all queries to TV3, which did not respond to calls.

Campbell Live ended last year and presenter John Campbell has since taken up a high profile role hosting Checkpoint on Radio NZ.