Veteran broadcaster Paul Holmes is to front the new version of the political current affairs show Agenda.

The weekend political show - wholly made with taxpayer funding - is back on air this month with the new name Q&A.

The former Newstalk ZB breakfast host has been hired for the main hosting role, but TVNZ political editor Guyon Espiner is expected to provide long-run interviews - as he did on the old Agenda.

Holmes' appointment is a milestone for TVNZ current affairs which began the Holmes show in 1991, introducing a new tabloid-style of current affairs TV.

His return on Q&A on March 22 puts a final touch on the healing of relations since Holmes exited TVNZ in 2004.

The new Sunday morning show is believed to have $500,000 in funding to take it through until July. It is said to have broadly the same format as the old Agenda.

TVNZ will be paying Holmes much more than it paid Rawdon Christie under the old format, but the question is how Holmes adds or subtracts from the appeal of the old show to serious political junkies.

The old Agenda - which was made by Richard Harman's production company Front Page - was canned by TVNZ last year.

The new show is to be produced by Mary-Anne Ahern - a longtime friend and admirer of Holmes who is steeped in old-school current affairs.

Ahern has been working on Backbenchers - the rather overwrought Wellington-focused political show on the TVNZ 7 Freeview channel.

TVNZ had considered calling the new show Insight but happily decided against that.


Holmes will be pleased to get the new gig. It was no secret that he would have liked to have stayed longer at Newstalk ZB, but Mike Hosking had an offer from RadioWorks and Newstalk decided - for better or worse - that it was time for a change.

Holmes has a Saturday morning show on Newstalk and it would be interesting to know what he thinks of Hosking's cooler style of delivery on the breakfast show.


Cult television channel Alt TV was pulled off Sky Television on Wednesday night with shares in the company now held by its financiers at Easy Factors.

Sky issued a statement yesterday that the arrangements for Alt TV to appear on Sky were no longer viable.

It appears that suggestions the company would continue on Freeview or find a trade buyer have come to nothing. Its future was not clear but two of its former directors - Oliver Driver and Thane Kirby - have roles within MediaWorks.

Driver is the presenter for the TV3 breakfast show Sunrise while Kirby is programme director at MediaWorks' recently acquired George FM.

Other former shareholders are former Sky Television executive David Kennedy and Ricky Newby.

Kirby yesterday declined to discuss the financial position of the company and referred all queries to Easy Factors. Driver could not be reached for comment.


Moves by some in the National Party Cabinet to install a communications tsar to oversee media and lobbying have been fended off - for the meantime at least.

This column reported in December that there were moves inside the Cabinet to appoint someone.

A political insider said the communications tsar idea went beyond schmoozing with journalists and was about National connecting to lobbyists and interest groups.

The move was backed by senior ministers Murray McCully, Gerry Brownlee and Bill English.

But when I called John Key's chief of staff Wayne Eagleson and Key's press secretary Kevin Taylor, they were not advised about the new role. Taylor described the suggestion of a tsar as "bullshit" .

Taylor is well liked by Key so maybe that influenced why the proposal went nowhere. But don't be surprised if the idea resurfaces when National's honeymoon with the media ends - as it inevitably will.


There appears to be disagreement at Fairfax Sundays over the role of Sunday News editor Chris Baldock. Under a new structure announced at the end of last year, Baldock was to be second in command to Mitchell Murphy - the Aussie import placed in charge of both Sundays.

Baldock - who is believed to have put his name forward for the role overseeing both papers - confirmed that he was still the editor of the Sunday News, but referred all queries to Fairfax Sundays general manager Michael Richards. Richards had no comment to make.

Asked whether Baldock had taken on the role of deputy to Mitchell - as was indicated at the time of the restructuring - Richards said deputy was an interesting term, given that people were often asked to fill in for other people. He said that the company was going through adjustments.


Business-to-business publisher 3 Media has issued an information memorandum for a sale of the group.

The company - whose 13 titles include AdMedia, Onfilm, NZ Marketing and NZ Management - has already sold its biggest title, Dairy Exporter, to Countrywide Publishing. Staff were told last Friday.

On the face of it you would say it is not time to buy or sell businesses - whatever sector you are in. But one media industry insider suggested that for those that had the funds to buy, it would be a good time to consolidate.


Shaving budgets for programming and looking at staffing levels does not mean TVNZ is pulling back from its bold plans for moving into new media spaces.

According to the well-sourced Australian news website Crikey, TVNZ is buying a one-third stake in the personal video recorder company Tivo from the Australian Seven Network. "Struggling TVNZ is believed to have just outlaid A$15 million ($19.2 million) in cash and airtime,"

Crikey said.


Right-of-centre business newspaper National Business Review has a new take on dealing with media insiders going to the Press Council - suggesting complaints should be not be considered if they are from people with their own access to media.

Editor Nevil Gibson wrote to the council over complaints by Christian activist Harmeet Sooden and former Listener columnist Dave Hansford about its columnist-cum-blogger David Cohen.

"Together with an earlier complaint from Jon Stephenson they form a pattern of activists or journalists in the public arena claiming they have been unfairly treated.

"All three of these complainants have reason to dislike views and opinions published in the National Business Review. All three have access to other media outlets, from which they can tell everyone what they think of us," Gibson said.

He would refer some complaints to an ombudsman who would decide whether there is an issue to be resolved.

"I don't think, in general, its existence should be used by people well versed in seeking media exposure to shut down debate when their own activities are questioned," Gibson said. Interesting. This unique take on self regulation will presumably face some opposition.