New chairwoman sees TV One ratings soar as rival channel hits turbulence.
New TVNZ chairwoman Joan Withers describes TV One's rating success from 6pm to 7.30pm as "stunning".
The state broadcaster has been riding a wave of ratings success, partly due to serious turbulence over at MediaWorks' rival TV3.
Last week, Withers, who took the chair of the board in March and chief executive Kevin Kenrick, toured the refurbished newsroom and congratulated One News presenters Simon Dallow and Wendy Petrie on their run of bravura ratings.
TVNZ says the gap between One News and 3News is now the biggest it has been for 10 years.
Withers will know One's success is partly due to the problems besetting TV3, especially after the collapse of Campbell Live.
It is preparing for a revolutionary change in its business model by developing its On Demand and digital arms so they contribute more to revenue.
Withers is a business woman with a clear passion for the media. And it has been a long-term passion.
"Once you have worked in the media you cannot get it out of your blood," she says.
She "caught the bug" with a role as an ad sales person for Suburban Newspapers in the 1970s.
She led RNZ commercial stations through the privatisation process and was chief executive and chairman of Fairfax New Zealand.
Uniquely, she has a background in commercial TV, radio and print media.
Despite her commercial credentials, and considering she joined the TVNZ board when it shed its limited social obligations, she insists that the focus on quality and viewer demands has not been diminished.
The maintenance of standards she says, is apparent in TVNZ's online arm, where she says TVNZ does not focus solely on numbers and click bait.
Six years after joining the board she says ratings are a good arbiter on success, but the company values go beyond ratings and into providing content that reflects the needs of the audience.
Many thought she would take over as chairman in 2012, when Sir John Anderson stepped down down.
But she had more than enough going on as chairwoman of Mighty River Power where she led the government privatisation.
She was also chairwoman of Auckland International Airport.
"I can't talk about shareholders' views at the time, but it is true that I had a lot on my plate," she said.
Like all media, TVNZ is in transition between old media and new, between linear channels and the new digital content.
"The number of people using TV is going down slowly, not catastrophically, but we have to adjust to that," she says. "We're understanding how consumers are using all the media options but TVNZ is in the free-to-air broadcast business, still a very strong business, still delivering strong returns."
Freeview Plus allows free-to-air to offer an alternative to pay TV with a gateway to On Demand content. But Withers insists there are no plans to develop Freeview as a pay TV service.
"We've all got to see how these models evolve. There is no silver bullet. I applaud what's happening at NZME and a brave but reasoned approach to convergence."
"But there are going to be some very big tectonic shifts in the ownership of media."
• Joan Withers' introduction to the business world was as a teller for the BNZ in 1970.
• Her first media job was in 1980 as an advertising salesperson for Suburban Newspapers in South Auckland.
• In 1995 she was appointed chief executive of the Radio New Zealand commercial radio stations and prepared the stations for sale.
• She was a member of the board for Fairfax in Australia and chief executive of Fairfax New Zealand.
• She was appointed directly to a role as deputy chairman of TVNZ in 2009, after the Government removed its commercial obligations.
• As well as a string of government appointments - including a role of the board of Treasury - she is chairwoman of Mighty River Power and a director of the ANZ Bank New Zealand.
• She was appointed to the board of Auckland International Airport in 1997 and resigned as chairwoman in October 2013.
- An earlier version of this story indicated that Joan Withers was still on the board of Fairfax Australia. She is not.