Farewell TVNZ7, but what's next?

Last updated 08:40 29/06/2012

Public meetings throughout the country didn't help. Neither did a so-called funeral march held in Wellington to protest against the cancellation. Accusations from the Labour Party that former broadcasting minister Jonathan Coleman intentionally misled the public have largely fallen on deaf ears - even as Coleman admits he got the audience numbers wrong and new documents show the Government tried to save our most popular public service channel.

Even a petition with more than 36,000 signatures didn't stand a chance: as of this Sunday, TVNZ7 will become TVOne+1, completing its transformation from an entertaining and educational station to a slightly delayed repeat of TVNZ's flagship channel.

And despite the fact that shows such as Back Benches are doing a celebratory final lap (complete with a devastating fire that seems all too emblematic of TVNZ7's demise) and others, like Media7, are finding a home on other networks, there is still a feeling of hope among supporters of the channel - hope that something else might step in to fill the gap and hope that viewer demand will force something to take its place.

The problem with TVNZ7 was always the first part: TVNZ. An editorial this week, published on The Press website, reinforced something that the good folks at Throng had also pointed out: TVNZ had no real interest in saving TVNZ7, as the channel was entirely a cost to them - the lack of advertising meant that the channel wasn't generating income for the network. TVNZ was partly supporting the channel out of its own pocket (along with plenty of help from the Government). As a commercial entity, they have no interest in spending money without any chance of a financial return.

To be clear, I don't blame TVNZ for the way things have ended up. Changes to its charter forced our biggest TV network into self-sufficiency, and supporting a financial black hole isn't a good business decision. End of story.

But the end of TVNZ7 forces the viewing public into something that is probably for the best anyway. As Regan at Throng says, "it is time the confusion was ended and there be a separation between TVNZ's role as a public broadcaster and a commercial entity. If they are there to make a profit, let them do it but let's not pretend any longer that they can do that and have success as a public broadcaster at the same time."

Perhaps the answer is to crowd-source our public broadcasting. TV One and TV3 already show plenty of decent public interest shows, and Maori TV is a wonderful display of our culture. As that editorial from The Press says, "while that may be regrettable, in a world in which the media are rapidly evolving any gap it may leave is likely to be quickly filled ... If public-service programmes are worth making, NZ on Air is there to see they get made. Once that is done, programme makers will find no shortage of outlets on which they can be shown."

So, sure, it's disappointing to lose some of the great and unique programming on TVNZ7, but there is also hope. Hope - and a massive opportunity for the remarkable television creators, broadcasting companies and great channels in our country to step into the hole left by TVNZ7 and expand.

Shed a tear for TVNZ7, but don't mourn for too long. Things might be about to get really exciting.

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Jim   #1   08:57 am Jun 29 2012

Things will NOT get more exciting.

We're a few short years away from simply getting what YOU pay for. There will be no free to air, which I find unwatchable now due to rampant and excessively frequent commercial interuptions.

Sky need to stop pimping themselves quite so often too. WE'RE ALREADY WATCHING!

There is no opportunity for NZ media resources to enter the NZ market because there is no commercial reason for anyone to let them do so. As you so eloquently argued in your blog defending the right of Capitalism to keep television dumb.

TVNZ will just keep buying cancelled shows, hackneyed proceedurals and old-people programming until they disappear altogether.

Good riddance.

Now, how is that torrent going.........

the_fridge   #2   09:13 am Jun 29 2012

You know it got canned because it wasn't entertaining, was boring and nobody watched it hence the low advertising revenue? Good riddance to a useless channel that basically nobody knew or heard about.

katie   #3   09:16 am Jun 29 2012

Hope that TV3 picks up Back Benches, would be perfect for them.

Megan   #4   09:18 am Jun 29 2012

Its a shame, there were some great programmes on that channel

samm   #5   09:19 am Jun 29 2012

"TV One and TV3 already show plenty of decent public interest shows"

Umm, really, in prime-time?

Johnny2   #6   09:22 am Jun 29 2012

The problem with TVNZ7 is that contary to what it's supporters said it was not a public broadcaster. It was a TV channel that showed documentaries and a few niche programmes. The documentaries though some would argue are worthwhile could hardly be called public brodcasting as most were about science or nature or animals and probably brought on the cheap.

The niche programmes though interesting again had a narrow focus aimed squarely at a samll target audience.

If anything TV One shows way more public broadcasting than TVNZ7 ever did

Bruce   #7   09:22 am Jun 29 2012

"So, sure, it's disappointing to lose some of the great and unique programming on TVNZ7, but there is also hope. Hope - and a massive opportunity for the remarkable television creators, broadcasting companies and great channels in our country to step into the hole left by TVNZ7 and expand." Oh come on Chris....New Zealand broadcasting is driven by ratings...$$$! TVNZ7 was and will be the only channel that could get away with playing the'left field' content....such as the doco 'Dive.' It gave the viewer the opportunity, to either agree or disagree, to debate with family and friends and to argue the many points raised. In my mind, it championed democracy.

samm   #8   09:27 am Jun 29 2012

@ the_fridge #2

Don't make the mistake of assuming that just because *you* didn't watch it and thought it was boring that no-one else could or did.

I watched, enjoyed and was entertained; never bored. Much more rewarding than any lame by-the-numbers sitcom or reality show could ever be. TVNZ7 in the main broadcast items that assumed the viewers were intelligent and rewarded it, rather than pretend it didn't exist.

And since the point was there was no advertising on it, your point about low revenue is well, pointless.

Chris Philpott   #9   09:27 am Jun 29 2012

@the_fridge #2: TVNZ7 didn't generate advertising revenue because it was conceived as a commercial-free public service station. Simple, really.

@samm #5: OK, admittedly, not in prime time - but in the age of DVRs and OnDemand, is prime time really so important? Shows like The Nation, Waka Huia, and Q+A are doing fine on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Wilson Owen   #10   09:33 am Jun 29 2012

Producing shows that journalists and politicians love, but few others watch - doesn't stack up commercially. Advertisers buy ratings - so the prospect of some of these shows being revived on commercial channels ain't great. It raises the issue of Public Broadcasting - we have RNZ - but no Public Service television.There appears little likelihood of us having any. Labour, who scream loudly about everything the government does, had a go at public television with its loopy broadcasting charter, trying to have public service/values TV on commercial channels - a strategy doomed to failure as such strategies/values are in direct conflict with commercial objectives. Now that the Free To Air television market has been allowed to fragment into multiple broadcast platforms - the economics of full service Public TV has become much less viable.

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