Stop me if you've heard this one before. But has TVNZ dropped the ball on current affairs or what? Not just dropped the ball. Grassed it. Fallen over it, broken its ankle, chipped a tooth and subbed off to the blood bin. And then watched as TV3 picks up the ball and runs gleefully to the try line.
Am I the only one who thinks that the monumental scale of the blunder made by former TVNZ news boss Ross Dagan, who's about to slink back to Australia with his tail between his legs, is only now becoming apparent?
I'm talking about the reinvention of current affairs by our state channel as some sort of chat show-cum-social media strategy training session-cum-only slightly more cerebral version of the Footy Show meets Seven Days. Except much less funny.
The demise of Close Up and Sunday in its former hour-long format, together with the rise of Seven Sharp and reality shows too numerous and too dull to reiterate here, didn't happen by accident. They are part of a deliberate strategy by TVNZ, as outlined by its chief executive, Kevin Kendrick, to a parliamentary subcommittee last month.
Kendrick told disbelieving MPs that there was "no appetite'' in New Zealand for 90 consecutive minutes of hard news, and the public demand was for "short, sharp soundbites''.
Kendrick confirmed for the committee that TVNZ's decisions were "entirely driven by consumer behaviour'' and that Seven Sharp was "absolutely in the right territory''.
Consumer behaviour immediately made an idiot of Kendrick. Last month TV3's Campbell Live beat Seven Sharp in the ratings for the first time in the 7pm slot since TV3 began in 1989. The last data I had access to had TV3 consistently beating its old rival at 7, not just in the overall audience but in the very demographic TVNZ is attempting to reach - 19-25 year-olds.
Others, such as Auckland University media researcher Joe Atkinson have already pointed out the knock-on impact of Seven Sharp delivering lower audiences to the prime-time shows that follow it, such as Fair Go.
But what fascinates me is the galvanising effect it's had on TV3. Wily old news boss Mark Jennings has spotted a golden opportunity and he's grabbed it with both hands. In a weird reversal of roles, TV3 has become the channel of serious, robust, adult current affairs. TVNZ is for the kids.
Have you watched Campbell Live recently? The show's on steroids. Night after night of punchy, edgy, clever investigative journalism, delivered with panache and humanity by the country's best broadcast journalist.
While Seven Sharp's been chucking journalists in the harbour to see how long they take to sink and telling potty jokes while asking people to Facebook them, Campbell's been right up the jacksie of the Ministry of Education, CERA, Solid Energy and big corporates, doing decent hip-pocket consumer stories the old-fashioned way.
Campbell's piece on Solid Energy, where he personally investigated the company's finances and spent a day on the Coast talking to sacked miners, was exceptional. So was his expose on the hardships facing quake-hit Cantabrians who'd bought land but hadn't started building and were being screwed by the Government.
It's been great to see Campbell out of the studio and doing real, grassroots journalism. After 10 years in the job he'd been going stale, but Seven Sharp's arrival has given him and the show a new lease of life.
Tonight, we see the latest incarnation of TV3's commitment to decent current affairs - 3rd Degree, featuring urbane former TVNZ political editor Guyon Espiner, just to rub it in, and the bombastic but effective Duncan Garner, formerly TV3's political editor and now carving politicians and bureaucrats up daily on Radio Live.
A disclaimer here - obviously, Guyon is my brother and Duncan's a mate. But that doesn't mean we agree with each other. Just ask them. And it doesn't mean I'll go easy on either of them if their show's rubbish.
But I'm excited, and pleased TV3 is giving this a go. 3rd Degree promises edgy, different, intellectual programming, led by two of the country's most experienced and clever journalists. It's shaping up to be a must-watch, and I hope it succeeds.
Because I think Ross Dagan and Kevin Kenrick are wrong. I think there is a big market for serious news journalism on television. Indeed, it could be argued that in the slew of saccharine comedy, panel shows and reality television that now pads the schedule, viewers are crying out for something to balance the ledger.
In the race to the bottom and the lowest common denominator, TVNZ has forgotten its roots, and its core audience. Along with credibility, judgment, intelligence, and humanity. It'll be interesting to see if it realises this before it's too late.
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