Poor sound system leaves audience to own raucous devices.

The New Zealand Television Awards on Saturday night were a festive affair compared with last year's more puritanical auditorium style.

This year, guests were treated to a three-course dinner at the plush Langham Hotel, where the wine flowed as fast as John Key's gaffes and the decibels soared with each award presented.

Not even John Campbell's glib use of his favourite cuss word onstage could contain the crowd. The absence of a good sound system and onscreen graphics acknowledging who had won and for what left the audience to their own raucous devices.

An opening dialogue filmed by a handful of Shorty St actors in character made it plain how the film industry's exclusion from the event this year was regarded - with mockery. The Screen Directors Guild opted out of the affair and scrapped plans for their own local film industry awards because of a lack of funding. However an alternative event is taking place next month.


A jet-lagged Dominic Bowden, formerly of TVNZ, paced the undersized red carpet with TV3 reporter Sam Hayes, who looked a vision in pearly lace.

Petra Bagust, who's counting down the sleep-ins, looked stunning in emerald green. So did TV thesp Siobhan Marshall, whose long satin frock was matched in vibrancy by her ruby locks. Sara Wiseman, best actress winner, sparkled in leopard-print sequins, Teuila Blakely gleamed in a patterned plunging number and One News reporter Joanna Hunkin glowed in a Grecian-style gown.

TV3 whacked down the company credit card at the network's local watering hole after scooping the big news and current affairs gongs. The party was still in full swing when The Diary arrived in the wee hours of the morning, but things were more muted at TVNZ's celebrations where we found anchor Simon Dallow playing sultan of the sofa with a bevy of young lovelies and Bowden pronouncing: "I'm pleased I've moved to 3."

Stan the man of X Factor

A cluster of yesterday's reality stars were paraded out at TV3's 2013 season launch, but the announcement of Kiwi singer Stan Walker as one of the judges of X Factor NZ was met with considerable fanfare. X Factor USA finalist Chris Rene was flown in for the trumpetings at SkyCity and sang his single Young Homie to a crowd of advertising staff, who were evidently struggling with the early morning hype.

Garner to give Third Degree

TV3 proudly bagged the news and current affairs gongs at the NZ Television Awards, but the channel is staying strangely coy on plans for its replacement 60 Minutes show next year.

At the network's new season launch yesterday, host John Campbell revealed "an exciting new current affairs show with local stories" is coming next year, following the loss of 60 Minutes .

The show, called Third Degree, will be hosted by Duncan Garner, who was jointly named best news reporter with colleague Patrick Gower. Garner replaces Mike McRoberts as the programme's frontman.

There is potential for another host, news boss Mark Jennings told The Diary, and Guyon Espiner, a 60 Minutes reporter, is tipped but yet to be confirmed.

Espiner and Garner were a tandem team during TV3's election coverage to critical appraise. Their forte of hard-hitting studio interviews and topical live debates would give Third Degree an edge over their rival, Sunday and its old-style current affairs reporting with pre-recorded interviews. If Third Degree capitalises on Garner's strengths, we can expect to see newsworthy conversations in front of a studio audience and debates on the big issues. The same core 60 Minutes team will be employed and a few extra faces will join the team.

The Diary understands funding will be largely reliant on taxpayer cash from the purse of NZ on Air.