Suzy Cato on the state of children's programming in New Zealand

  • Media
  • November 10, 2017
  • Georgina Harris
Suzy Cato on the state of children's programming in New Zealand

Children’s programming in New Zealand in the 1990s was full of Kiwi voices in New Zealand-made shows – think Play School, What NowThe Son of a Gunn Show, and Squirt. And who could forget Suzy Cato of You and Me, 3pm and Suzy’s World fame?

Cato has been part of New Zealanders’ lives since beginning her career in 1990 as presenter of the Kiwi version of kid's television series The Early Bird Show.

Having being part of the media landscape for over 25 years Cato is still a popular figure: people in their 30s remember the words to songs from the popular pre-schooler series You and Me, her colourful sweaters are etched into collective memory, and several colleagues in the Tangible office professed their love for the presenter and her friendly manner. 

While What Now continues and others such as The Moe Show are home-made, Kiwi kids are also clamouring to American and British programmes like Charlie and Lola, Peppa Pig and Dora the Explorer. 

In June last year, Radio New Zealand reported on the shrinking options for children, in light of youth-focused free-to-air channel Four disappearing, meaning there was no advertising-free programming for kids on free-to-air TV. However, change is on the way. 

In October, StopPress talked to TVNZ’s director of content Cate Slater about its new season launch.

As part of its commitment to local programming, came the announcement of an ad-free, safe online environment to host children’s multi-media content supported with funding from New Zealand On Air. This is to fill a gap in the media landscape caused by the lack of local children’s programming, said Slater. 

The project is on track to launch in the first half of next year and is currently in the digital design development and build planning phase.

Cato was involved in the project, says Amie Mills, TVNZ’s digital and children’s commissioner. 

"We knew from the outset that for this project to succeed, TVNZ and NZ On Air would need to bring together a nationwide community of local makers and creators to collaborate. One of the first things we did was run a full day workshop with over 70 producers, writers, game developers and children’s media practitioners. Suzy was one of those storytellers we knew would bring wisdom and insight to the table. She was instrumental in helping us shape the vision for the project," says Mills. 

Cato says she has really been impressed by the kind of content TVNZ and NZ on Air are looking for.

“The examples that they’ve given us are good quality stuff, stuff that encourages kids to be active, and a part of the community and the environment.”

She says is also excited by the new government’s plans for RNZ+. The Minister for Broadcasting Clare Curran recently said she wanted it to be a full TV channel run by RNZ on Freeview offering more news and current affairs, drama – and crucially for Cato, children's content.

“It’s good to have options. The thing that gets me is that we’re good at providing content for pre-schoolers, but it’s really valuable to have a free, babysitting tool aimed at that age group (5- to 9-year-olds), and then for tweens we want content the kids can grow into, instead of turning to overseas and American content,” Cato says.

Cato says New Zealand has always had overseas content and says it is expensive to create local content.

“When a producer is purchasing, they purchase it in a package – they are obliged to play what is contained, they are obliged to go with those shows and free up their budget.”

There's also an element of risk when it comes to producing kids' shows in that there's no formula to guarantee success. 

Having been at the helm of two popular Kiwi television shows – You and Me and the scientific Suzy’s World – and executive producer of Byran and Bobby – Cato says there tends to be a few elements consistent across successful kids' shows. 

“What we enjoyed as kids are what kids are looking for now, I think it’s the feel-good factor. It feeds your soul as well as your mind. It’s also the fun factor – that’s what Suzy’s World was all about –  you were included. It’s about allowing kids to be kids for as long as possible.”

She says kids these days are exposed to so much more than they used to be, through technology and the internet, so “it’s all about empowering kids to choose what they watch.”

When asked how she thinks shows can stay relevant in such a fast-moving environment, she says stay true to what you’re offering.

“While not every kid will like what you do, it doesn’t matter. It’s just one of those things, you just have to make sure there are options. It’s opening eyes to new things. We talked about You and Me like a veggie burger – you got something from it without realizing, a sense of learning by osmosis.”

Discussing advertising to children, Cato says while there is none around pre-school programming on TVNZ On Demand, broadcasters do rely on the income from advertising.

“Those who want to advertise around children are the fast food and the like because they’re going to catch the kid’s eye. Being a producer now, instead of just purely a presenter and looking for funding dollars myself, how do you get a good blend of the two? There are ways of doing it but it is something in the industry that needs to be looked at. From a parental perspective, the less pressure we get from our kids, the better to fit in with budgets.”

While she may not be presenting on our television screens these days, Cato is still performing. 

Her Suzy & Friends radio show, supported by funding from NZ on Air, was started around nine years ago and can be found on 21 stations throughout the country.

Cato says it was created based on what she herself grew up listening to.

“Kids' stories, creativity, we’re still playing the old classics like Bad Jelly the Witch. It’s the theatre of the mind, all the imagination gets going.”

The show travels around the country – from New Plymouth to Wanaka – with one family chosen to help co-host each episode, with kids eager to take part. 

To increase the presence of Suzy & Friends, there is also a Youtube channel with 140-odd videos showcasing arts and crafts, and live appearances.  

“We wanted to do something to get kids involved, be active participants - we have a 'star' each week, an activity on air. Content for kids means Kiwi voices,” Cato says. 

Cato is also a founding member and chairperson of Kiwi Kids Music, an organization of over 60 Kiwi musicians including singer Anika Moa, created to support each other, and to advance the potential of all children to live healthy fulfilling lives.

There have been performances at the Auckland Museum, Auckland Council’s Music in Parks and soon Cato will head to Christchurch to do three performances for the Christchurch Christmas Festival. 

It's busy times for Cato – and what looks like a positive future for children's programming in New Zealand.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Follow the money, part four: Where New Zealand's news media is finding pots of funding gold
features

Follow the money, part four: Where New Zealand's news media is finding pots of funding gold

Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a guiding light when it comes to holding the powerful to account. But that phrase is increasingly pertinent to those who run media businesses. As advertising money flows away from traditional channels towards large tech firms, the old business model of selling space around the news is creaking. And that has led to a range of experiments from publishers and broadcasters hoping to keep the lights on – and to keep shining those lights into dark places. Erin McKenzie dives into the local news media feed and finds plenty of experiments, but no simple answer to the funding conundrum.

Ogilvy's senior line up changes with chief creative officer and executive creative directors

  • Advertising
  • September 20, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Ogilvy's senior line up changes with chief creative officer and executive creative directors

Ogilvy has announced a number of senior moves, with Regan Grafton promoted to the role of chief creative officer while Lisa Fedyszyn and Jonathan McMahon become joint executive creative directors.

Read more

Radio survey: total audience tuning into radio waves remains stable

  • Media
  • September 20, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Radio survey: total audience tuning into radio waves remains stable

Its radio survey time again and in the third round for 2018, 3.66 million New Zealanders have been found to listen to radio each week, with The Edge seeing the biggest audience.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and StopPress have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

topics
Follow The Money
Follow The Money
Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a ...
Regional Rundown
Regional Rundown
StopPress takes a trip down the country to see who the audiences and agencies are ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
20/20 (tele)vision
20/20 (tele)vision
Media consumption is changing. But by how much?
The Hot List
The Hot List
Our rundown of the hottest shows, brands and creators in New Zealand media. 1. magazine ...
Cannes Lions 2017
Cannes Lions 2017
All the winners, the shortlists and the drama from this year's edition of advertising biggest ...
Merger Mania
Merger Mania
All our stories on the nation's two failed mergers in one place
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...
StopPress Podcasts
StopPress Podcasts
We sit down for a chat with industry leaders to find out what they're up ...

Colleen Ryan: from wolf whistles to Ritson and Sharp

  • Voices
  • September 20, 2018
  • Colleen Ryan
Colleen Ryan: from wolf whistles to Ritson and Sharp

TRA partner Colleen Ryan takes a final look at the Byron Sharp versus Mark Ritson debate, looking at the power of remembering a well-marketed brand.

Read more
The art of story finding
Sponsored content

The art of story finding

There’s some often cited research that says we’re 22 times more likely to recall a story than we are a fact. But when you’re dealing in branded content, perhaps a more useful way to consider this information is that we’re 22 times more likely to recall a fact when it’s wrapped in a story. In this episode, we’re looking at how to put your audience at the centre of your story and letting them experience your brand for themselves.

voices

My Food Bag cooks up August's Ad Impact Award winner

  • Advertising
  • September 20, 2018
  • StopPress Team
My Food Bag cooks up August's Ad Impact Award winner

With a change of season upon us, August saw a new range of TVCs being tested. While there were plenty on show, it was My Food Bag with its 'Dinner Makes Families' TVC by Saatchi & Saatchi that picked up the Colmar Brunton Ad Impact Award.

Read more
A New Zealand Original: Streaming services embrace in-house content
features

A New Zealand Original: Streaming services embrace in-house content

As online streaming services slowly replace broadcast television as the preferred way to watch TV, the ways in which content is developed are also changing. Streaming services are boasting ‘original’ content, with the banner, ‘Netflix Original’, becoming synonymous with edgy or ground-breaking content, created free from the bounds of traditional broadcast media. Now, slowly but surely, Lightbox is getting in the game.

#suffrage125: How media and brands are celebrating New Zealand's historic move – UPDATED

  • Advertising
  • September 19, 2018
  • StopPress Team
#suffrage125: How media and brands are celebrating New Zealand's historic move – UPDATED

Today is a proud day for New Zealand as we celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. StopPress looked around to see what media and brands in Aotearoa did to mark the occasion.

Read more

Changing faces of women in advertising

  • Voices
  • September 19, 2018
  • Georgia Middleton
Changing faces of women in advertising

It’s 2018. That’s 125 years since women in New Zealand have been recognised as equals in the eyes of democracy. But what’s the story of equality in advertising? It doesn’t take much research to find articles about the changing faces of women in advertising – and yes, things are changing. But the casual sexism, the call-outs and the cover-ups have sparked a different kind of debate. Is misogynistic advertising a thing of the past, or do seeds of it still exist? To answer that, I’ve looked at different portrayals of women to see how things were then…and now.

Read more

Sharks and lightning: expect the unexpected in LifeDirect's new campaign

  • Advertising
  • September 18, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Sharks and lightning: expect the unexpected in LifeDirect's new campaign

Following the sad demise of mascot Simon the sloth, LifeDirect by Trade Me has gone for the humourously unexpected in its newest brand campaign by Y&R.

Read more

What's your mark of progress? ASB showcases its customers' stories

  • Advertising
  • September 18, 2018
  • StopPress Team
What's your mark of progress? ASB showcases its customers' stories

ASB has launched another round of its business banking campaign with True, and this time it's put the spotlight on its customers, with Pic’s Peanut Butter, Burger Burger, Farmlands and others sharing their business progress.

Read more

Ads of the week: 18 September

  • TVC of the week
  • September 18, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Ads of the week: 18 September

ASB, LifeDirect and Phloe show us how it's done.

Read more

Social enterprise shows how VR can save New Zealand's endangered birds

  • Technology
  • September 18, 2018
  • Elly Strang
Social enterprise shows how VR can save New Zealand's endangered birds

For Conservation Week this week, social enterprise Squawk Squad and virtual reality studio M Theory have joined forces to go into the classroom and get children excited about saving New Zealand’s native birds through VR technology. The experience takes the viewer through a forest journey alongside a robin bird, who encountering friends and predators along the way.

Read more
Follow the money, part three: Where New Zealand's news media is finding pots of funding gold
features

Follow the money, part three: Where New Zealand's news media is finding pots of funding gold

Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a guiding light when it comes to holding the powerful to account. But that phrase is increasingly pertinent to those who run media businesses. As advertising money flows away from traditional channels towards large tech firms, the old business model of selling space around the news is creaking. And that has led to a range of experiments from publishers and broadcasters hoping to keep the lights on – and to keep shining those lights into dark places. Erin McKenzie dives into the local news media feed and finds plenty of experiments, but no simple answer to the funding conundrum.

NZME secures eight News Media Awards in Australia: News Corp leads winners

  • Awards
  • September 17, 2018
  • StopPress Team
NZME secures eight News Media Awards in Australia: News Corp leads winners

NZME was the most successful New Zealand brand at the News Media Awards in Sydney last week, with News Corp topping the honours taking home 2018 News Brand of the Year.

Read more
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2018 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit