Here are a few topics and themes addressed over the past 11 years.

Interest in the Commonwealth Games may have encouraged TVNZ's sporting ambitions — but it will need to lift its game. Picture / Getty Images


The joint venture to show the 2019 Rugby World Cup suggests TVNZ aims to use sport coverage to make itself more relevant.

It also suggests that Spark — the other party in that venture — has finally moved its media ambitions beyond Lightbox. I am told that this World Cup joint venture goes hand-in-hand with TVNZ taking a bigger stake in Freeview, with closer links to Spark.


Meanwhile, sport remains the foundation for Sky TV. The pay TV operator insists the Rugby World Cup is not an earner, but it will not want further incursions by rivals. Sky's outside broadcast vans give it an advantage in securing Sanzaar rights to professional rugby.

After the Commonwealth Games, TVNZ might be more confident that there is a mass audience to sustain advertising-funded sport. But production-wise, there were some big warning signs that it needs to ramp up its infrastructure. TVNZ offered a tired presenter team and scheduling gaffes.

If TVNZ moves further into sports — competing against Sky — it will have to dig deeper to buy sports rights.

That money will have to come from somewhere, and the question is whether it will eat into other content budgets.


Post Mark Weldon, MediaWorks has been stable, beyond the constant speculation about a new owner to buy the company from Oaktree Capital.

There has been interest in its ownership of half of New Zealand's radio stations. But as for TV? Not so much.

One party rumoured to be looking at MediaWorks is CBS, which recently bought Australia's Ten Network out of receivership.

At Three, programming has been stabilised. Three appears to have made the right call with the Kiwi versions of international game show formats. The 7pm liberal left magazine show The Project — which is expensive to make — has found an audience.


The Project has been given comedy chops with the addition of Jeremy Corbett to its presenting team.

RNZ Plus

Labour's plans for a new RNZ television channel have been in the news with the sudden exit of former executive Carol Hirschfeld after she misled her bosses about her meeting with Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran. The exact circumstances of that meeting have never been spelt out.

The issue facing the broadcaster — beyond the survival of its core radio expertise — is the independence of public radio and its willingness to debate all perspectives.

In my opinion, with a proactive minister keen to spend more money on RNZ — and given the current zeitgeist in media and politics — we risk severe damage to the independence of journalism. To me, it makes more sense to adapt part of TVNZ to a public service role than it does to start an RNZ TV service afresh, and risk undermining its existing skills as a broadcaster.

Labour may feel it cannot trust TVNZ to implement a non-commercial operation, and TVNZ does have an overbearingly commercial culture. Labour may be right. But in my opinion, Labour is just scared of tackling TVNZ.

The immediate issue will be for Labour to appoint someone to replace Richard Griffin as chairman of RNZ.

Copy sharing

Most people agree that sharing some content makes sense in a small market battling to sustain journalism.

Radio NZ has come to be the most active sharer of its content, with the upside that providing cheap material to commercial media helps allay private-sector lobbying against RNZ. The downside, I would argue, is that the state is reducing the demand for fresh individual voices.


I'm not sure New Zealand media are any more celebrity focused than they were 20 years ago, when women's mags held sway.

But online media — and especially entertainment stories — seem to have adopted women's magazine values.

Celebrity-based news goes in cycles. Ideally, it starts with a celebrity utterance — for example, Taika Waititi's comment about New Zealand being "racist as f ... "

First, journalists and columnists agree with the celebrity. Then, someone offers a contrary opinion that creates a minor social media furore. After a few weeks the outrage has blown over and the media move on.

Increasingly, mainstream and new media opinion are converging with social media to create outrages and Twitter firestorms. There is a growing clannishness between journalists and activists, as became apparent during Jacindamania.

In my opinion, some media are encouraging relatively junior staff to offer personal political opinions in a way that was unheard of 10 years ago.