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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

At sixes and sevens

The Nats have said TVNZ's experiment with advertising-free digital channels on the Freeview platform that started under Labour is not going to be subsidised beyond next year. Save TVNZ7 is one response. Making channel 7 the public broadcaster and selling off TVNZ might be Brash's response. I'm not sure what abomination the TVNZ munting machine will throw up to replace the programming already established, or if they will just kill it entirely.

I'm not sure they will relinquish the property however, like TV3 they will want to hang on to their market advantage on Freeview and keep the channel locked up. That's what the management would do - transfer shows that work like Backbenchers and the Court report over to One and dump the remaining self-inulgent wankery and just close the channel.

The content problems stemmed from the financials of the set up and the demise of the TVNZ Charter. It could have been a news channel but TVNZ are lazy, creatively devoid and typically cautious, so TVNZ7 was established as a half-pie channel of odds and ends rather than based in the newsroom taking all the live feeds of things they are gathering anyway. It could have been like SkyNews Australia, but that would have been too radical for their thinking and contrary to their underestimation of the intelligence of any potential audience. But as a news channel it would have dragged a bit of audience off One and that is a golden egg you don't touch.

So TVNZ7 was doomed from the beginning: if it became too successful it would have to be killed to protect the revenue streams from One. So they showed old shows on it with a few niche "beltway" programmes to keep the inner Wellington and Grey Lynn constituencies enthralled and basically wrote it off. They never tried to make it work, it never had the necessary backing from the top floor.

Watched TVNZ6 lately? It's "U" or something, a youf channel camped out in the foyer of the Auckland Death Star - like they are playing forts. Kids and their banal chatter in the lobby and they get a whole channel for it!? And it's TVNZ so it was always going to be shit. Is TVNZ 7 going to become the adults version of that crap - maybe at the other end near the grand piano?

If they wanted out - or preferrably were forced to vacate the channel by the Minister - you would think a JV with the Seven Network would be on the cards. It would be a very cheap entry for an Australian player.

The sad thing is I can't see TVNZ selling 7 to the people who make the shows that air on it - that would be preferrable.


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