TV3 has lost the right to broadcast Aussie beach side soap opera Home and Away, a staple of its evening broadcast offering.
According to TV3 owner MediaWorks (which is currently in receivership), TVNZ has picked up the license for the show from its distributor Endemol. Update: TVNZ has confirmed it has secured the rights and will announce a programming schedule in the near future.
This comes as a massive blow to TV3's evening line up. Home and Away has a large fan base and is a big draw card to the 5:30 pm to 6:00 pm time slot preceding 3 News.
The past four episodes this week brought in an average of 291,200 viewers aged 5+, according to Nielsen Overnight data. The show's large audience makes it a regular in the top five weekday programmes for the network.
Judging by the immediate (and somewhat visceral) reaction to this announcement, the lives of Summer Bay residents is deeply important to many New Zealanders.
"Oh my god. Why isn't the Civil Defence siren sounding?" writes one emphatic NZ Herald commenter.
StopPress has contacted MediaWorks for further information.