Come 2014, Sacha McNeil will no longer be wrapping up the day’s affairs, with MediaWorks confirming that The Paul Henry Show will replace Nightline.
A release from Mediaworks said, “The Nightline brand remains a valued part of the 3 News stable and will sit in reserve.” According to Rachel Lorimer, group communication manager for news and current affairs at Mediaworks, this means, "that the [Nightline] brand will be available for use in future years."
Over the last few years the show has struggled to maintain its viewership, and Mediaworks feels that it is time for change. According to Nielsen, the show’s average audience per episode has declined by 29 percent over the last five years, with viewers dropping from 155,000 in 2009 to 110,000 in 2013.
In the release, Mark Jennings, director of news and current affairs at Mediaworks, said, “Nightline has been a great programme for us over many years and produced some of our best broadcasters, but the landscape is due for change and Paul Henry will lead that change in later evening viewing.”
Bringing Paul Henry onboard is a bold decision, given the broadcaster’s controversial history that includes accusations of homophobia, ridiculing the chief minister of Delhi’s name and suggesting that asylum seekers should starve to death.
Despite the discontinuation of the show, MediaWorks said that there would be “an overall increase in headcount” and that “most staff associated with Nightline already work across 3 News’ stable of programmes, and [that] some may work on The Paul Henry Show.”
The change has been met by a mixed response from the public, which Lorimer summarises as "excitement and interest in Paul Henry’s new show, as well as affection for the Nightline brand."
At this stage it is unclear whether Sacha McNeil, the current host of Nightline, will have a role to play in Henry's show. Lorimer could not confirm any specifics, saying, "Given Nightline doesn’t finish until the end of 2013 it’s too early to answer that question in full. However, Sacha is a very talented anchor and journalist and an important part of the 3 News team. As well as her Nightline duties, she’s also a regular backup anchor for the 6pm bulletin."