TVNZ says it is happy with its Breakfast team, headed by Hilary Barry and Jack Tame.

TVNZ's head of news and current affairs, John Gillespie, has emphatically rejected claims that major changes are planned for Breakfast and for Seven Sharp.

He says a recent report of "crisis meetings" and Hilary Barry moving to 6pm are not correct.

"We are happy with Breakfast and the team and the audience feels the same way," Gillespie says. "We consistently win the five-plus audience."


MediaWorks has promoted the rival AM Show's wins with the audience aged 25-54. But Gillespie says TVNZ's Breakfast has won that group for 96 of the past 108 shows.

Has TVNZ's huge investment in Hilary Barry, and the dropping of the old team, paid off? Gillespie says: "Overall, yes we are very happy with the team and the audience tells us that they are as well."

I'm not a natural early morning TV viewer, but I wonder if the Breakfast format works. Barry was a good newsreader on radio, Paul Henry and 3News. However, for me, her interviews with politicians have not shone, and the pairing with Jack Tame - another solid news reporter - looks like a mother and son team.

Brodie Kane is very likeable, but she does not have a sports background like The AM Show's Mark Richardson.

When Barry was poached from TV3 amid the Mark Weldon ructions, some media were besotted with her - one publication even described her as the "beloved" Hillary Barry. But in my view, outside news, a little bit of Barry can go a long way.

The other change being talked about is at Seven Sharp, where there has been speculation that TVNZ is considering using Mike Hosking in some other way. Seven Sharp still reliably beats TV3's The Project, but I believe the TVNZ show looks too old for a young audience, as targeted by The Project.

While Hosking has been away, his role has been filled by Jack Tame and Sam Wallace.

Gillespie says he can't discuss the nature of Hosking's contract and whether he is contracted to work on Seven Sharp next year.


As for Sam Wallace, "We are just going through exactly what he does. We also see him sitting across several shows.

"I am not looking to make any major changes," says Gillespie, "but in the months to come, if changes need to be made we will make them." Asked if there was any prospect of using Hosking for a simulcast of Breakfast, Gillespie said: "It's not something I am looking at."

Ratings frustration

MediaWorks chairman Jack Matthews says he is "frustrated" by RadioLive's ratings performance. Matthews says the talk station has a good offering and good people, but "it punches below its weight".

"We just have to find what it takes to get in front of more people," he says. "It's a management discussion, not the board, but I think Michael [chief executive Michael Anderson] would say the same.

"I'm frustrated because it is a high quality product and we have to get it in front of more people," says Matthews, who took over as chairman in October.

Many will agree RadioLive has been limited to being an alternative station. It has had its ups and downs, but has only intermittently delivered on the promise it had when it was launched in 2005. It's not easy to break the dominance of a big, entrenched player like NewstalkZB.

The simulcast breakfast programme The AM Show - which replaced Paul Henry this year - has had an impact on breakfast TV ratings, even after Henry's departure.

But while it is still working on TV, "we have not made a breakthrough with radio," says Matthews. "There is a lot of [advertising] money in that segment, so there is a great opportunity there."

Newstalk's Mike Hosking Breakfast fell briefly in the ratings a while back, but in Auckland the beneficiary appears to have been RNZ National, not RadioLive. The Hosking show recovered in the latest GfK radio ratings, growing its share nationally and in Auckland, and widening its lead over The AM Show.

One advertising source suggested RadioLive's problem was due to a marketing strategy that relied on free promotion on TV3.

But in my view, RadioLive has been allowed to drift, with the focus going on the simulcast above all else. MediaWorks' respected head of radio, Wendy Palmer, left recently. And two of its key afternoon talents have moved on - Willie Jackson, who has gone back to politics, and Duncan Garner, to The AM Show.