Media sources speak of crisis, but TVNZ says meeting had been planned for some time and was 'very positive'

Staff at TVNZ's Seven Sharp current affairs show held a meeting last night following a bumpy first two weeks on air.

Media sources speculated that it was a crisis meeting, but TVNZ said it had been planned for some time.

News and current affairs chief Ross Dagan said the meeting had been very positive.

"It was always intended that we come together at some stage a couple of weeks after launch to check in. [That's] perfectly normal in the production of a programme. In fact, the mood was excellent and constructive."


Seven Sharp debuted on February 4 and was quickly savaged, with critics rubbishing everything from its content, bad jokes and even Greg Boyed's no-tie scruffy look.

Things got worse when TV3 rival Campbell Live's ratings soared to beat the TV One show - the first time TV3 had beaten TV One in the 7pm weekday slot since TV3 began in 1989.

Earlier yesterday, at Parliament, TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick defended Seven Sharp, saying there was no appetite in New Zealand for 90 consecutive minutes of hard news and the public demand was for "short, sharp soundbites".

The network's vision for current affairs was questioned by MPs on a select committee, one of whom felt the shift to more commercially driven content had resulted in the dumbing-down of its shows.

Mr Kenrick said content was "entirely driven by consumer behaviour", and Seven Sharp was "absolutely in the right territory".

He said New Zealanders could now access news from many different places, and there was not as much demand for a hard-hitting news show at 7pm.

"There was a period of time where most people got most of their news on TV at six o'clock.

"And now there are so many more opportunities and places you can access the news and as a result of them I think that consumers are looking for short, sharp soundbites; they're looking for a punchy delivery," he said.


"What we've found is that an hour of news at 6pm followed by essentially a very similar format was not holding the audience's attention."

Mr Kenrick said TVNZ was committed to the show - which replaced Close Up - in the long term.

The chief executive, who took on the role in May, also criticised the reception Seven Sharp had received.

"There has been a lot of commentary about Seven Sharp which has typically come from less than 12 commentators, and they tend to reinforce a more traditional perspective of what current affairs has been as opposed to a reflection of what it might be."

He added: "There's been plenty of speculation from so-called experts about whether it's right, wrong or otherwise.

"You're only as good as your last performance. Last night, we had double the ratings of Campbell Live, but I don't expect to read that in the Herald any time soon."

Mr Kenrick acknowledged that there was still an audience for traditional, hard-hitting current affairs, and this was provided in other TVNZ shows such as Sunday, Q&A, 20/20 and Fair Go.

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