TV3 launches morning news service minus the coffee mugs and pet stories, TVNZ welcomes the challenge

Three weeks into its run, 3 News: Firstline may be the network’s first morning show to find the yellow brick road.  StopPress understands that earlier this week 3 News: Firstline ratings rested around the 18,000 mark compared to the approximate 140,000 boasted by TNVZ’s breakfast. While the difference between the two is notable to say the least, in under one month 3 News: Firstline has almost reached the average of its predecessor.

MediaWorks has failed in the past to capture the free-to-air television audience, with TV3s ill fated Sunrise programme being axed last year. Ratings for the short-lived Oliver Driver and Carly Flynn morning show rested somewhere between the 20,000 and 30,000 on average.

3 News: Firstline went to air after the morning after the Christchurch quake. MediaWorks publicity manager Nicole Wood said that plans were already in place to launch an early morning news service in April, and that when the bulletin went on air it wouldn’t have made sense to leave and then return in such a short time frame.

Hosted by now ex-Nightline anchor Rachel Smalley, the show will aim to take a more “serious” approach to morning info-tainment.

MediaWorks TV Chief Executive Jason Paris threw a subtle jab at the main free-to-air competition, TVNZ’s Breakfast, saying “There won’t be any coffee mugs on the anchors desk or stories about how to look after your pets.”

But TVNZ’s public affairs Megan Richards said that while they wouldn’t presume to comment on the content of their new competitor, they welcome the challenge of a new competitor and what it does to the morning television market.

“We welcome the competition which expands the market at that time of the day, and we truly believe that having choice is a good thing.”

Director of new and current affairs Mark Jennings didn’t return our calls, but had this to say in a press release:

“Firstline will concentrate on the important stories that happened overnight and what is likely to make news in the day ahead.”

On the appointment of Rachael Smalley taking the driver’s seat on the early morning show:

“She is the perfect combination of warmth and authority.”

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