Spanner thrown in TVNZ works as Dagan announces surprise departure

Less than one year into the role and just before the launch of the new primetime news show Seven Sharp, TVNZ’s head of news and current affairs Ross Dagan has followed in the footsteps of his Australian predecessor Anthony Flannery and resigned to return to his homeland. He will depart the network in March. 

Dagan’s biggest move during his tenure was to axe Close Up in favour of the fresh, new bite sized news format at 7pm featuring hosts Greg Boyed, Ali Mau and Jesse Mulligan. And while he admits the timing is “absolutely inconvenient”, he said in an email to staff that “the need to find the right mix of work, life and family has come into sharp focus for me and my family in recent times, and it is at the heart of my decision.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nVjo9l_2VIAccording to Radio NZ, the TVNZ newsroom erupted into a crescendo of OMGs when the news was announced. And, given the release of the Seven Sharp promo yesterday, which discussed the importance of the number seven, the irony of his soon-to-be new home at Channel Seven in Brisbane, which is where he began his career, wasn’t lost on some social media cads (Mulligan, in what could be a sign of things to come for Seven Sharp, even called dibs on his car park via Twitter). 

In an announcement to staff Dagan said: “I am sorry to let you know that for personal family reasons I have decided to resign from TVNZ to take up a position that’s been offered to me at the Seven Network in my home city of Brisbane. I am thoroughly enjoying my role as Head of News and Current Affairs and relish the opportunities it continues to provide me. There’s no doubt there’s more to do. However, we all face difficult crossroads at some point – the need to find the right mix of work, life and family has come into sharp focus for me and my family in recent times, and it is at the heart of my decision. It’s a rare and unexpected opportunity to return home to the best possible role I could hope for in Brisbane, at the network where I completed my formative years as a journalist. After much soul searching I have chosen to take this path. I appreciate that it is absolutely inconvenient timing and for that I am genuinely sorry. I have enormously high regard for TVNZ and you as a team. I have full faith in its future under Kevin’s leadership. I also know we have the right mix of skills and experience to secure the future direction and the on-going success of NCA and Maori and Pacific Programmes. You have my respect and admiration for the work you do now and I have no doubt will continue to do into the future.”

Chief executive Kevin Kenrick is thought to be close to announcing TVNZ’s new strategic direction, so this surprise departure is undoubtedly an unwelcome distraction from that (and it will undoubtedly also put more pressure on the launch of Seven Sharp on 4 February), but he has accepted the resignation “with regret” and said it had been a difficult decision for Dagan to make.

TVNZ’s previous head of news and current affairs Anthony Flannery, who took a job overseeing all the Ten Network’s news programmes on TV and online in January last year, was in the role for around four years. Conversely, TV3’s equivalent Mark Jennings has been in the role for almost 20 years, so this shift will presumably give MediaWorks—and particularly Campbell Live, which can already smell current affairs blood—a bit more confidence. 

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