For the first time more New Zealanders turned to Campbell Live than Close Up for their current affairs at 7pm.

Cumulative figures show a total of 2,160,100 people watched Campbell Live in February, compared with the 2,142,400 who tuned into Close Up.

However, the average viewership figures for February 2010 put Close Up ahead with 417,580 viewers compared with Campbell Live's 221,680. The ratings were put together by AGB Nielsen Media Research.

Nielsen Media describes the average audience as the number of people who watched a programme as a number or percentage of the total potential audience.

Cumulative audience relates to the total number of different people who tuned into the selected time period for eight minutes or more (reached at least once by a specific schedule or ad).

This means viewers only needed to flick over to the programme during one of the eight minute segments.

A spokeswoman for TVNZ said the network never used cumulative figures to show viewership as they were deceiving and Close Up regularly gained double the number of viewers than Campbell Live.

TV3's Mark Jennings said the growth in audience came from the show getting the right mix of stories and giving viewers what they wanted.