The final editions of ASB Business and Sunrise went to air today, and a new programme schedule for these timeslots will be confirmed shortly.
Cost cutting has been pointed to as the main reason behind the decision to axe the shows, with the cost of producing these programmes deemed unsustainable, particularly in the current economic environment.
“We have not taken this decision lightly, and it has been the subject of a lot of debate and discussion at both a Board and Management level—ultimately it has been the Board’s decision,” says MediaWorks TV Executive Director, Ian Audsley.
“Unfortunately this decision results in at least 20 redundancies across the Television business and that is the toughest aspect for all of us at TV3. We are, however, able to offer redeployment in some cases.
“Despite the terrific work of the people involved and the commitment of everyone at TV3, we’ve not been able to make these programmes work financially. Today’s announcement is not a reflection on the calibre of the people involved in the production of the programmes. They’re as good and capable a team as any I’ve seen anywhere.”
Audsley says the business shows sponsor, ASB, was told of the decision recently. MediaWorks has already held discussions with ASB about alternative sponsorship deals. The ASB contract was not at a rollover point.
In the memo from group managing director Sussan Turner - who was only appointed to the role last month - staff were told the decision had not been taken lightly.
“In the end, it came down to what was the most appropriate thing to do for our business long term.”
The breakfast show—hosted by Oliver Driver and Carly Flynn—only drew an average of 20,090 viewers over the past month, compared to 137,940 people watching Breakfast, according to AGB Nielsen figures.
ASB Business attracted an audience of less than 8000 during that time, while TVOne's NZI Business had an average audience of 35,870.
2009 was a better year for the show. The crucial 18-49 demographic share rose by 55.5 percent over the year, with the ratings growth described as “very pleasing” by news and current affairs director Mark Jennings in January.
ASB Business originally launched as a news segment within the Sunrise programme in November 2007 and shortly after became its own show.
But the programme’s inability to build a greater audience saw consistent rumours that it was to get the chop for much of its existence.
Similar rumours have swirled around Campbell Live, but it remains to be seen if that current affairs show has bought more time with Sunrise’s axing.
It’s not the present ASB Business host Michael Wilson was hoping for, who today celebrates his birthday.
Wilson says the news has been met with a great level of sadness because the team has worked so hard.
“It was lots of fun and a great environment to work in. It’s a tough day,” says Wilson.
Wilson has an extensive background in business news, having previously worked as a reporter and Shoeshine columnist for NBR. He has also had stints working for Radio New Zealand and came to TV3 in November 2007 after hosting ASB Business on TVOne for 10 years.
So where to now for Wilson? He says TV3 have a proposal for him but he is yet to be told what it is. He’s says he is keen to do “whatever comes along”.