The writing's been on the wall for a while now, but on Friday MediaWorks made the announcement the Cassandras had been predicting: the media company was putting the television arm of its business up for sale and selling off its Auckland television studios.
For some time now, the investment company behind MediaWorks has been trying to flog off its radio and television business – but while the radio side of the company is doing well and turning a profit, TV3's been a financial drain and so nobody's interested.
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This week, MediaWorks disentangled the television part of its business and put the "for sale" sign on it – but really, who on earth would buy a television company in this day and age?
Free-to-air television is to the modern media landscape as cassette tapes are to the recording industry. Outdated, not fit for purpose, cumbersome.
The media landscape has changed completely and most people no longer make appointment viewing to watch the six o'clock news or their favourite show. They get their news from the radio, or their phones or their computers. They stream their entertainment via Netflix or Lightbox or pirated shows.
If they ever do watch anything from TVNZ or TV3, they'll have recorded it earlier so they can fast forward through the ads. Advertisers know this and that's one of the reasons why spending's increased dramatically in the digital sphere: from 366 million in 2012 to 899 million in 2018. And if advertisers are spending in digital, they're not spending on television.
There are some absolutely brilliant people working at Three. There always have been. Talented, tenacious broadcasters and operators who did things a little bit differently than they did over the road at the home of the state broadcaster.
Just after TV3 started, I left Wellington and the television show I was working on, Fair Go, and headed for Auckland to seek my fame and fortune. I was asked if I would fill in as the presenter on Nightline as the extraordinary host of the show, Belinda Todd, was taking a holiday. I jumped at the chance. This was my opportunity to be cool! To be in with the in-crowd!
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Working on the top-rating Fair Go was all very well and good, but the cats at TV3 were crazy and this was television of the future. After my stint on Nightline, the man in charge of programming, Rod Pedersen, offered me a job presenting the weather. "You'll have to lose some weight, though," he said, scrutinising me critically through a haze of cigarette smoke, "otherwise your tits are going to cover the Chathams."
I declined the job, but I did end up working with Belinda and the Nightline team for a couple of years and it was a wonderful experience. I never was cool enough to be truly one of the Three team but Belinda became a great mate and we've had – and continue to have – some excellent adventures.
I hope the men and women at Three are rescued by a corporate knight in shining armour, but I doubt it. Spark or Sky might take a look, but all media companies are doing it tough in today's landscape. And how you make a loss-making free-to-air television business attractive to an investment company is beyond my pay grade.
It's too soon to write the epitaph for Three's headstone – where there's life, there's hope. And if anyone can get off the ropes, bruised, bloody but still fighting, it's the team at Three. They've been doing it the entire 30 years of their existence.