Television New Zealand has been chasing John Campbell to work on TV One, according to a source. The approaches go back to before MediaWorks ended the Campbell Live show on May 29.

The source said TVNZ was trying to construct a format that would work for Campbell. The broadcaster had initially given little encouragement, but that may have changed more recently.

The hoopla over the All Blacks-Samoa match shows Campbell still has a huge personal following. This cultural and sporting phenomenon was created largely by Campbell before MediaWorks axed his TV3 show. The game should have been a high point for TV3 - instead it was an own goal.

Meanwhile, Campbell's image is flying high, though in this employment market you would have to be careful about turning down too many options.

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And I wonder if Campbell wants to re-enter the political fray.

The good news is that unlike other big-name broadcasters, Campbell has not insisted on mega pay packages. Campbell is also a notoriously hard worker; he usually put in a full day's work before appearing on Campbell Live.

Campbell could also serve an audience that doesn't like Mike Hosking, and which is currently ignored by TV One.

Radio New Zealand has talked with him off and on. With Afternoons host Simon Mercep leaving this week, many of Campbell's fans will hope he finds his home there.

Campbell would fit with RNZ's view of its audience as the liberal left.

However. in my opinion it would be surprising if he took a permanent role given the current circumstances at RNZ.

Campbell could not be contacted for a response and a TVNZ spokeswoman declined to comment.

Problem delayed

Simon Mercep
Simon Mercep

Broadcaster Simon Mercep's departure from Radio New Zealand was announced by the Herald on June 24 - but confirmed by RNZ only this week.

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Chief executive Paul Thompson said Mercep was "highly valued". But the ending of his stint reflects badly on the strategy RNZ adopted when it pulled Mercep from Morning Report to make room for Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson.

Mercep is an old-school features broadcaster, but that style has gone out of fashion. When he co-hosted with Geoff Robinson, the breakfast show was missing a bad cop - a role held by Sean Plunket in the old days.

Rather than grasping the nettle, RNZ shifted the problem to Afternoons. Jim Mora had a perfectly good following on that show, but was shifted to co-host Checkpoint with Mary Wilson. Their relationship has never seemed warm, let alone developed any sparkle.

Radio NZ is now looking at shaking up the evening show, in response to a fall in ratings, and I'd be surprised if Mora stayed with Wilson.

To be fair to RNZ, all traditional media face these battles in balancing the old and the new. Radio NZ is especially vulnerable, starved of cash by an unloving Government, and both the institution and its audience have talked themselves into resisting change.

Nowadays the jewel in the crown is not even radio - it is RNZ's digital arm, The Wireless, which is enjoying stellar growth.

One source at RNZ said the broadcaster needed someone to force a new approach.

Head of content Carol Hirschfeld has surprised critics by her will to press harder for change.

New home on cards for Maori TV

Paora Maxwell, chief executive of Maori Television. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Paora Maxwell, chief executive of Maori Television. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Maori Television's meeting next month is likely to decide on whether to move out of the station's studios in Newmarket.

The most likely options are a move to Waitakere, backed by John Tamihere, or Rotorua, backed by the Te Arawa iwi and the Rotorua District Council. Tainui, meanwhile, have backed a proposal to base the studios in Hamilton.

The Herald reported on October 25 that there have been talks between Maori TV, the Rotorua District Council and iwi on a plan for studios in Rotorua, with one iwi offering free lakeside land.

The Te Arawa proposal is said to have a strong business case, but would be controversial given that Maori TV chairwoman Georgina Te Heu Heu, Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell and Maori TV chief executive Paora Maxwell all have close Te Arawa affiliations, and Flavell is a local MP.

Some in Maoridom see a shift south as a positive move, to an area with a more pervasive Maori culture than the melting pot of Auckland.

Others believe Maori TV should stay in the big city, where it has the best access to opinion makers and leaders, and that a Rotorua site would give it a regional focus.

Chief executive Maxwell points out that Auckland is not pan tribal; it is largely Ngati Whatua. But it still has a big Maori population.

The Waitakere proposal is being pushed by the local urban Maori authorities - led by Tamihere and backed by Willie Jackson. Neither could be reached for comment but a Maori broadcasting source was planning to back a Waitakere move, partly on the grounds that shifting to Rotorua would cause huge disruption for staff, and that Maori TV needed to be where the biggest Maori population lived.

Meanwhile, some staff are suspicious that a move out of Auckland, coinciding with a change in the way te reo policy is administered, under a proposed new programme called Te Matawai, will add to what some see as a conservative backlash at Maori TV under Maxwell, which has led to the exit of key staff.