TVNZ corporate affairs’ Megan Richards didn’t want to say much, but told StopPress that there hasn’t been a formal announcement yet and the broadcaster has had no advice from the Government, and right now, all the talk is just speculative. But several media releases and a John Drinnan article in the Herald beg to differ.
Media releases have stated several things which point towards the beginning of the end for TVNZ7, which was intended as a drawcard channel to entice analogue television viewers to switch to the digital platform Freeview . The first sign that the funding cuts were coming became clear last year when the Government agreed (with exactly who though remains to be said) that the TVNZ 6 frequency should be commercialised. A new channel , U, will soon be launched to occupy the freed up frequency.
U is a youth orientated channel which will be aimed at the 15-24 demo. Launching on March 13, it will feature “a mix of real life and factual entertainment programming”.
Another sign is the joint venture between TVNZ and SKY, a partnership which will see a 24 hour pre-school children’s channel launch on the digital platform from 1 May called Kidzone24. What once was just a popular two hour block of programming on TVNZ 7 will soon be a whole channel. This new addition to SKY could also mean a subtraction for TVNZ.
While some shows are being well received, others have of course been axed. The Ad Show, a programme with the intent to demystify the realm of marketing and advertising for the benefit of the public, was after its first season. While something certainly worthy of a watch for the industry itself, the speculation of a merger between TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 last year and a general lack of funding assisted to the demise of the show despite a successful run.
But the funding cut from the Government could hardly be called a surprise. It is open knowledge that the contractual funding for TVNZ will cease in June of next year, and while there hasn’t been a final understanding on the decision, it’s probably not as speculative as TVNZ says it is.
Richards said that if the funding doesn’t come through when the contract is reevaluated next year, there is a possibility of some jobs at TVNZ that might be affected. Many jobs either fully or partially connected to the station may be affected (read: the channel will go).
As it stands, TVNZ is re-launching TVNZ as a public service channel. Eric Kearley, TVNZ head of digital channels, said that the expanded TVNZ 7 incorporates some of the best programming from TVNZ 6.
Meanwhile, media guru/juggernaut and esteemed insider Michael Carney summed it up well by saying that the funding was only ever agreed until next year.
“Beyond that, the purpose of TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 was to smooth over the transition to digital, and those channels have achieved what they set out to do. That particular function which was subsidised has run its course, so the next question is whether there is a light for TVNZ 7 past government funding. The reason for the subsidy in the first place was that these channels would never be commercially attractive.”