Rotorua fans are outraged at TVNZ's decision to move Coronation Street from its comfortable 7.30pm time slot on TV One to make way for MasterChef Australia.
Coronation Street, which airs on Tuesday and Thursday for an hour, will from October 17 be shown at 5.30pm for half an hour every week day, while MasterChef Australia will air every night at 7.30pm for the final three weeks of the competition. TVNZ has justified the move by saying last year's final of MasterChef Australia proved a "primetime winner" when it attracted more than 1 million viewers.
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The schedule change will also remain in place for the coverage of the election in October and November.
Most Rotorua fans spoken to yesterday shortly after the new time slot was announced were not happy, saying it was too early.
"I think that it's really stupid. You could be doing other things. It's way too early" said one fan, Tracey Parrish.
Longtime fan Nola Hartevelt, who has been watching the British soap since the 1960s, initially reacted with "they need their heads read".
"That's an awful time. It's right on the time of you cooking dinner. I don't like it. I prefer it at 7.30pm."
While she would still be able to watch the programme in its new time slot many could not as they would still be heading home from work.
Rotorua fan Pat Leatherland said she would definitely prefer to watch it at 7.30pm because everyone was busy at 5.30pm or they wouldn't be home from work.
Rotorua journalist, Jill Nicholas, who first watched Coronation Street, while working at Carlisle's Border Television when the programme was in its UK infancy, is appalled by the change.
"To move it to make way for a cooking show that no one will remember in a month, let alone 50-plus years on, is a slur not just to Coro Street followers but the timeless show itself," she said.
There are already fears from fans that the move may become permanent and complaints that commuters will still be on their way home when the opening credits roll and the familiar wheedling theme begins.
TV One and TV2 head Jeff Latch said that although the schedule change was temporary, there was a possibility the move could become permanent, depending on how it performed in the earlier slot.
"I haven't made a call on what will happen at the end of the three weeks. A lot of things come into play and we will be interested to see how it impacts."
Since 2002, the Coronation Street audience has dwindled to half what it was.
The new schedule was "not about moving Coronation Street, that's not the driver. It's about putting the hugely popular MasterChef into primetime to drive people there," Mr Latch said.
TVNZ spokeswoman Georgie Hills said an omnibus of the five shows would be screened on Saturday afternoons and it would also be available on demand.
Ms Hills said the new time slot would provide a more settled time slot as there was the potential for disruptions if it was to stay at the 7.30pm slot due to RWC games and General Election coverage. additional reporting APNZ