Senior TV3 bosses discussed boycotting last night's Aotearoa Film Television Awards after their coverage of the Christchurch earthquake was ruled ineligible for the top news award.

The broadcaster was ordered to change its entry for the Qantas Best News Award after judges said that their rolling coverage of the February 22 quake fell outside of "daily news programme" criteria.

TV3 included a highlights package of their continuous afternoon news footage - which was shown by news networks around the world.

But that footage was ruled inadmissible by a specially convened judging panel.


AFTA co-chairman Rick Friesen said TV3 alerted the committee about the extra package which resulted in an AFTA hearing.

"To their credit they brought it up in a news meeting so there was a discussion and we put it off to the judging chair.

"Every news organisation would like to take highlights but they can't, it is not the rules."

Both TVNZ and TV3 were given the opportunity to express their views before judge Susan Baldacci made a final ruling against TV3.

MediaWorks-owned TV3 were so incensed that senior executives discussed withdrawing from the competition altogether.

"We felt shut out of the competition, because we weren't able to submit what was our best breaking-news coverage. The wording of the entry criteria was ambiguous at best."

A TVNZ spokeswoman said news bosses were unavailable for comment last night as they were attending the AFTA awards ceremony at the Auckland Viaduct Events Centre.

Last night TVNZ won the best news award for the fourth time in a row.


TV3 cleaned up the individual awards, taking home five top awards including Best News or Current Affairs Presenter to Hilary Barry, and Journalist of the Year and best news reporting to Hamish Clark.