Campbell Live to be reviewed

John Campbell's primetime show is facing an uncertain future.
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John Campbell's primetime show is facing an uncertain future.

Fans of John Campbell have come out in support of the broadcast journalist as the future of Campbell Live appears uncertain, just a fortnight after its tenth anniversary.

Following a meeting this afternoon, Mediaworks confirmed the primetime show is under review. Ratings for the 7pm current affairs stalwart have been in steady decline.

After earlier tweeting a message of thanks and asking viewers to tune in for tonight's episode, Campbell stayed mum on the potential demise of Campbell Live.

A social media campaign to keep Campbell on screens erupted on Thursday with the hashtag #Savejohn and #letCampbellLive and an Action Station petition calling on people to show their support has already gathered more than 10,000 online signatures. 

A New Zealand Twitter trends map showed Campbell Live was the most talked about subject in the country on Twitter since it was revealed the current affairs show is under review.

"Thank you all so much for your support. Please watch tonight," Campbell Live tweeted earlier, in response to many shows of support from media personalities, colleagues and politicians alike. 

The review will be led by Mark Jennings, Mediaworks group head of news, who said it was part of a broader review of the MediaWorks business. It was being done to "improve commercial performance of the 7pm TV3 time-slot in a changing television market."

"Viewer expectations in 2015 are quite different from those of 2005 and we need to constantly review our programming to ensure we are meeting those expectations," Jennings said.

"Campbell Live is one of the mainstays of New Zealand media and has been at the forefront of New Zealand's news and current affairs landscape for a decade. John Campbell and Campbell Live have won every award possible, broken some of the most important stories of the decade, repeatedly been voted most popular current affairs presenter and programme, and made a real difference to Kiwis' lives."

The review was no reflection on the quality of the programme, or the work of John Campbell or the Campbell Live team, he said. No timeframe was given for the review and staff were now being consulted.

Mediaworks spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer said there was no basis to a rumour that Campbell Live would be replaced with Jono and Ben, and emphasised there were a "range of possible outcomes" and that any specific replacement suggestions were purely speculative.

When asked if there would be job losses and if the show would continue in some form or be dropped completely, she said: "There are a range of possible outcomes, and, until the review is complete, it would simply be speculation to discuss how roles may change, or if they will change at all."

Last year, Seven Sharp pulled in an average of 430,000 viewers in the 5+ demographic per episode. In comparison, Campbell Live had 240,000, according to figures from ratings company Nielsen.

In the last week of March, when Campbell Live celebrated a decade on air, it also saw some of the worst ratings in its history. According to analysis by throng.co.nz, it averaged an audience of 154,576 per night for that week - a week in which Seven Sharp exceeded 500,000 viewers for the first time.


READ MORE: 

* Tale of the tapes: Campbell Live vs Jono and Ben

*John Campbell: I've got to be a dad 
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Jono and Ben said it was the "first we've heard of this," in response to rumours their show would be the replacement. 

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Former Labour leader David Cunliffe asked if Mediaworks was axing the show because it was "too progressive". 

Jennings said in July that while ratings might be important, Campbell Live "creams" Seven Sharp when it comes to audience engagement.

In March, Campbell wrote 7pm was a "brutal timeslot - the toughest in New Zealand television".

"On free-to-air TV alone, we're up against Shortland Street, Seven Sharp, The Simpsons and The Crowd Goes Wild: a quartet of great entertainment options.

"But from day one, 10 years ago, when Carol Hirschfeld and I sat in our new and empty office and wondered what on earth we were going to do with half an hour a night, we wanted to tell stories that mattered: to be, as much as possible, a force for good; to make a difference, for the better."

Unlike Seven Sharp's "infotainment," style, Campbell Live focus is more on breaking news and campaign journalism. Recent stories covered included zero hour contracts and Dead Sea Spa operators in the country's malls.

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