I was 10 when TV3 was born.
I can't remember exactly what happened during the new network's first broadcast in November 1989, but I do remember that getting a third TV channel was cause for great excitement in my small corner of the world.
As Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves pulled the lever to begin TV3's first transmission all those years ago, he said: "It's a very important event when we launch another television channel. So I do this with a great sense of hope and appreciation for all that's been done and trust that the future of TV3 will be one that makes everybody happy."
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Three decades later, that future has never looked unhappier, with MediaWorks last week announcing their TV network was officially for sale. Given the number of times the station has flirted with financial danger, its future has likely been a cause for concern right from the start. But they've done a good job in hiding it, judging by much of the work they've produced over the years.
The news — but not as we knew it
Three projected hot mess energy right from the start, sailing promptly into receivership just months after its launch.
At the time, its late news show Nightline covered those developments with a story that featured the Grim Reaper arriving at the studio on Flower Street. As Nightline's Belinda Todd greeted Death in the building's lobby, she brightly asked viewers, "Hey, wanna buy a TV station?"
But it wasn't just Three's late news bulletin that made waves back then. 3 National News paved the way in turning the once all-important 6pm bulletin from a half hour show to an hour-long exercise — and injected some badly needed competition into the local TV news market.
Delivering national treasures
Sure, Three gave us Melody Rules, but the network more than made up for that by also giving us Hilary Barry and John Campbell on our TV screens.
They might work for the competition these days, but we have Three to thank for the platforms now given to both of those broadcasters on Breakfast and Seven Sharp, as they entertain (and sometimes inform) the masses at opposite ends of the day.
A Kiwi comedy lab
If Three does shut up shop, the damage to local comedy would be especially significant.
The network has aired some absolute gold in the past (think Hounds or The Jaquie Brown Diaries), and has become a real nurturing ground for comedy writers through shows like Jono & Ben, Funny Girls or that Kiwi institution, 7 Days.
Many of the people who worked on those shows have gone on to do amazing things overseas (think Rose Matafeo), and create shows that are unmistakeably, hilariously Kiwi. Guy Williams finally got his own show, New Zealand Today, this year and it was every bit as weird and wonderful as I'd dared hope.
Three's Comedy Pilot Week experiment of last year also produced two successful sitcoms for 2019, with Golden Boy proving an especially amusing love letter to small town New Zealand.\
A reality check
Three has run the full gamut of reality TV over the years. If I'm very honest, 2019's offering has often been terrible. (I'm looking at you, The Block NZ: Firehouse and MAFS NZ.) But Three's reality programming has still gifted us some absolute gems.
We can't go past New Zealand's First Couple of television, Art and Matilda Green, who charmed viewers and endured the choppy waters of The Bachelor NZ to find their happily ever after. And while New Zealand's Next Top Model may not have aged well, its breakout star Colin Mathura Jeffree sure has. Let us all give thanks to Three for catapulting the one, the only, CMJ to nation-wide attention.
Watch: Trailer for season two of The Bachelor NZ
Of course, Three is now facing a harsh reality of all with its future hanging in the balance. And you only need glance at the shows and broadcasters listed above — which are truly just the tip of the talent iceberg — to know how big a blow it would be for the culture of the country if it does close its doors.
Yes, the issues around Three's place in our media landscape — and that whole landscape itself – are complicated and will be difficult to navigate. But to see the back of Three would be an absolute tragedy.
So, allow me to channel my best Belinda Todd and put the question out to the universe: "Hey, wanna buy a TV station?"