John Campbell's days are seemingly numbered at MediaWorks and a current internal company review to increase ratings and advertising revenue at the pivotal 7pm slot will likely propose what we all suspect: Campbell Live is toast.

So, what does that mean for John Campbell, and will he move to Radio New Zealand alongside close pal Carol Hirschfeld?

Campbell started his journalism days at RNZ, providing a share report to Midday Report.

Hirschfeld is head of content at RNZ. She is best known for her role hosting 3News alongside Campbell from 1998-2005. The pair remain close friends.

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Campbell can evidently see the writing on the wall. He has engaged media lawyer Linda Clark to fight his cause. And supporters have launched a PR campaign taking to Twitter with a barrage of hyperbole and excuses.

Here are a few of the over-reactions:

• John Campbell is irreplaceable.
• John Key is in MediaWorks' ear and behind the show's demise because it holds the government to account.
Campbell Live is the only one doing serious journalism.
• Its exit will signal the death of hard-hitting news, public interest and political accountability.

No. No. No. And no.

The truth, of course, can be a bitter pill to swallow. Low ratings and commercial reality is what's at stake. Retaining viewers and growing advertising revenue is core.

The show has been hemorrhaging viewers and ratings for years. Addressing why audiences are tuning out may be difficult for Campbell when his name is on the door. No one likes to lose a popularity competition, and let's face it, that's what prime time is.

Campbell, I understand, has refused to accept internal suggestions that the show needs to adapt and develop to meet the changing face of media.

Suggestions that he should have a female co-host were strongly rebuffed.

Superficial alterations were made to the programme earlier this year. Campbell Live got a new logo; its host a three-piece suit and gimmicky facial hair.

But that didn't put a band-aid over the sore, let alone find a legitimate solution to a systemic problem. Viewers are fleeing and how do we keep them? Grow a goatee.

If the behemoth that is TVNZ could adapt and meet the challenges of retaining viewers at 7 o'clock, then what's stopping TV3?

Campbell Live, which recently celebrated 10 years on air, has long struggled in the ratings competition against counterpart Seven Sharp. And TV3 knows if it's not winning at 7pm, viewing numbers for the rest of the night will be affected.

The bottom line is people are digesting news differently. No longer are audiences prepared to sit down for a 90-minute hard news marathon. News divisions around the world have had to repackage content in a more engaging way at prime time.

Since news the television current affairs show may be axed, ratings have jumped for Campbell Live.

A crueler tongue than mine likened it to knowing that you are dying and having your funeral early to see who will turn out. Of course it's a capacity crowd. How long that crowd gathers at the wake and sheds a tear is another thing.

Campbell, a former share trader, was little amused at comments made by John Key, a former broker, who declared last week he has little sympathy for a programme on a private station that needs to net commercial returns for shareholders.

Key branded it an "entertainment" show which got Campbell's Y-fronts in a knot.

Campbell retaliated on air like an insolent child - he played Robbie Williams' Let Me Entertain You in the opening credits of his show, and signed off: "I hope we entertained you".

Let's hope the Campbell Live fracas has not turned into an ego platform for a man who couldn't see the writing on the wall early enough.

- nzherald.co.nz