TVNZ7 programmes

March 7th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

As most readers will know, ends in June. The funding given to it by Labour was for an initial period (was never made permanent), in order for it to become self-funding, and National has not decided to give TVNZ a subsidy to keep it going.

I don’t think the channel itself matters, as we have dozens of channels in NZ, and the value associated with a channel is becoming much less in the Internet age. I do think though there were some programmes on TVNZ7 which it would be good to have continue on. The three which I associate with being public are the , and Backbenchers. Important issues get discussed in a reasoned way (well on two of them anyway!).

Most of the other shows on TVNZ7 are imported or the hourly news bulletins, which are hardly essential. So my focus is on the three programmes above. There is also The Good Word.

Now to have a sensible discussion on their future, we need to know how many people were watching them, and how much they cost.

Neilsen have not been contracted to report ratings for TVNZ7. I think this is disgraceful considering the $15m a year that was spent on it. It should be a requirement of any use of taxpayer funds for broadcasting that the viewer data be made publicly available.

However we can get some idea of ratings. TVNZ7 is included in an “other” category. This excludes Channels 1 to 4, Prime, MTS, Box and Sky channels. Now last week “other” during the time Media7 was on got 0.6% AUD%, which is around 24,000 viewers. This means the number of viewers was somewhere between 0 and 24,000.

These level of viewers makes it hard to justify taxpayer investment. Public broadcasting is not expected to rate like Shortland Street as it is not commercial. But it is expected to at least rate. You should be achieving at least 1% of the population. It is quite possible no show on TVNZ7 has ever achieved even a 1% audience. I don’t blame the shows for this – I think the three shows mentioned are well produced and very worthwhile. If anything I blame TVNZ for not promoting them on other channels. TVNZ use their 6 pm new slot to often promote Q+A. They didn’t do this for any of the stuff on TVNZ7. How often did a story on TVNZ7 get picked up on TVNZ news the next day? I can think of many that should have been (such as Jim Farmer QC’s comments on the Supreme Court on the Court Report). So TVNZ failed to promote TVNZ7 programmes enough.

Next you consider how much these programmes cost. Someone out there may know, and I would hope it is public information as they are taxpayer funded. publishes funding details of the programmes they fund. We should be able to easily look up what the TVNZ7 programmes cost.

But someone in the industry has estimated for me that those programmes would probably cost $10,000/hr to produce or $5,000 an episode. So that is $250,000 a year. *If* those prices are correct, that is not an unaffordable amount of money. Now NZ on Air allocates $80m a year of contestable funding towards NZ TV programmes. It is not impossible to imagine that they could find $750,000 a year to keep Media 7, Court Report and on our screens. However the real problem is finding the broadcaster to agree to host them.

TVNZ is refusing (so far) to apply to NZ on Air to keep any of those programmes going. Why? Well they don’t want to screen them on TV1 or TV2 during a weeknight, as they would lose advertising revenue. I can understand that, but I don’t see why they couldn’t apply for them to be shown on a Saturday or Sunday?

But lets assume for now TVNZ won’t agree to broadcast them. What about other broadcasters? Well this could be an opportunity for Sky. They could apply for NZ on Air funding to show it on Prime or on Sky News. Politically it could be useful for Sky also to be doing more public good broadcasting (they also did election debates etc), as their future in a converged broadcasting and telecommunications market is scrutinised. Sky would also have the ability to promote the shows to get more viewers.

Another possibility is to make (for example) the Court Report an Internet broadcast. NZ on Air already fund some stuff over the Internet. The sort of people who watch the Court Report will tend to be Internet savvy, and many would happily subscribe to it and watch on their iPads or PCs.

So the issues are much much wider than just funding for TVNZ7. It is a complicated challenge. I’ve always been of the view that TVNZ can not be asked to be both a commercial broadcaster and a public service broadcaster. However that does leave opportunities for others.

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18 Responses to “TVNZ7 programmes”

  1. MikeG (425 comments) says:

    While not doubting your estimate of the numbers for Media7, it seems that Nielsen do some sort of calculation of viewing numbers – to quote from Russell Brown’s post on Public Address a few weeks ago:
    “TVNZ 7’s cume for the four weeks beginning on the 23rd of January 2011 (Nielsen always reports four-weekly “monthly” periods for the sake of consistency), the channel’s quietest month of the year, was 827,800.”

    So for a channel that has had very little publicity re what’s on, i.e.no programme listings in the NZ Herald or Listener, it does fairly well.

    [DPF: Monthly cumes are to broadcasting stats, what hits are to Internet stats. I can make Kiwiblog sound really big by saying that in the last 12 months there were 745,899 unique visitors to Kiwiblog.

    The problems with cumes is they treat someone who tunes in once a month for 10 minutes the same as someone who watches three hours a day or almost 6000 minutes. The stat is near meaningless.]

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  2. Russell Brown (405 comments) says:

    Another possibility is to make (for example) the Court Report an Internet broadcast. NZ on Air already fund some stuff over the Internet. The sort of people who watch the Court Report will tend to be Internet savvy, and many would happily subscribe to it and watch on their iPads or PCs

    You need to get out of Wellington more David! The “sort of people who watch The Court Report” includes my mother and a few of her fellow retirement village denizens (indeed, TVNZ 7’s audience skews senior — they’re an audience that commercial television hates with a passion). They’re not necessarily keen on watching TV on their PCs and there’s no chance most of them will be . And yet it’s of undeniable value that they have the opportunity to see such a programme on their TVs. It’s a public good.

    So the issues are much much wider than just funding for TVNZ7. It is a complicated challenge. I’ve always been of the view that TVNZ can not be asked to be both a commercial broadcaster and a public service broadcaster. However that does leave opportunities for others.

    I have to be somewhere else soon, but I’ll try and get back here. Some of your assumptions are way off (you can make hobby video for $5000 a show — a three-camera studio recording with experienced producers, offline editors, researchers and reporters, not so much) but these are issues worth discussing.

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  3. Russell Brown (405 comments) says:

    TVNZ 7’s cume for the four weeks beginning on the 23rd of January 2011 (Nielsen always reports four-weekly “monthly” periods for the sake of consistency), the channel’s quietest month of the year, was 827,800

    The latest monthly cume of which I’m aware was 1.47 million in December. It really isn’t like no one watches the channel.

    Monthly cumes aren’t daily ratings, but ratings are very largely a commercial tool. They’re for quoting to advertisers.

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  4. Graeme Edgeler (3,290 comments) says:

    If the news promotes what’s going to be on close-up, or fair go, that show might get more viewers and thereby be better for advertising. If TVOne promotes a show on TVNZ7, people might watch it, meaning there will be fewer viewers watching the shows TVNZ sells advertising in. This has always been a pretty big problem with the whole set-up. If TVNZ7 did well, this was bad for TVNZ’s bottom line.

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  5. Will de Cleene (485 comments) says:

    I think this is disgraceful considering the $15m a year that was spent on it.

    $15 million? That would part-fund 10 years of NZ’s Got Talent (along with support from corporate sponsors). Not bad value for an entire channel.

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  6. Steve (4,588 comments) says:

    Keep it going but shut down the shit channel TV1. “Breakfast’ is so good that it is repeated on TVNZ7? fuck, nobody can record a program if they want?
    Actually throw TVNZ7 over to Sky, just make TV1 a goldcard channel and you must have a goldcard to watch it coz nana said.
    Get rid of those fucking bimbos and try hard Paul Holmes types, and the airbrain anorexic

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  7. jv (16 comments) says:

    Agree totally with Steve that TV1 is crap and especially 6pm News – the truncated versions and the non bimbos on TV7 are far better. Been a goldcard user for 4 years, almost never watch TV1.

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  8. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Meh, just play hardcore porn after 10pm – that’ll get the numbers up.

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  9. emmess (1,432 comments) says:

    The latest monthly cume of which I’m aware was 1.47 million in December

    Cumulative viewers – what a bullshit measurement.
    What was TV1’s – 100 billion?

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  10. MikeG (425 comments) says:

    emmess – A monthly cume is the tally of all unique individuals who watched the channel in a month – so your guess of TV1’s monthly cume is nowhere near close!

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  11. geo_kiwi (43 comments) says:

    Umm, DPF, the content on the TVNZ7 hour-long news bulletin is in many ways superior to the One News 30 second sound byte where one doesn’t acutally learn a lot. For example during the bulletin, they interviewed at reasonable length an expert on one matter or another of the day.

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  12. mavxp (492 comments) says:

    TVNZ7 is definitely worth saving, and is as good a value as funding public libraries.

    Sure most people don’t use either service, but when they do they often find it to be very worthwhile. TV is such shit most of the time, and with far too much advertising. TVNZ7 has been an oasis in the desert of crap television, with some fantastic *interesting* content.

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  13. Jeremy (319 comments) says:

    TVNZ7 is nothing but a platform for eco-loons, commies and other assorted lefties and mad cases.

    Good riddance.

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  14. V (749 comments) says:

    I hope the science documentaries are ported over to the other TVNZ channels however.

    TVNZ7 News should be ported over to TVOne given that TVOne news is now worse than newstainment where 20minutes is ads, 20mins talking about the weather and 10mins spent trying to make cute segues, leaving 10 mins for news.

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  15. Inky_the_Red (761 comments) says:

    “Cumulative viewers – what a bullshit measurement.
    What was TV1′s – 100 billion?”

    Only if Aliens are watching it.
    An individuals only gets counted once. So 1.4m means that in a month 1/3 kiwis watched the channel at some time

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  16. mikenmild (11,719 comments) says:

    I’m not sure if anyone linked to this interesting discussion:
    http://publicaddress.net/muse/freakanomics-tvnz-edition/
    NZ’s Got Talent for a few weeks or the three programmes DPF mentioned for a year? Very difficult to choose.

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  17. Chris2 (770 comments) says:

    I’ve been interviewed twice in the studio on TV7’s 8pm news and on both occasions I have been surprised as the number of staff involved in the channel, and that’s in the evening!

    Whereas a few kilometers away in Grey Lynn, Stratos TV were running its channel, and Triangle TV, with just a handful of staff. I can’t help think that TV7 was bloated with staff, or they are really being paid from the TV7 budget, but actually working most of their time for TV1 & TV2. Stratos TV shut down, not because of staffing costs, but because it could no longer afford its biggest expense – leasing transponder, and Kordia’s massively increased terrestrial charges.

    Secondly, TV7, along with it’s now deceased sister TV6, were crippled from the start by a complete lack of programming listings in the daily print media. How is it the NZ Herald, the largest circulating paper in the country, gives daily listing of Sky’s pay channels like UK Comedy channel, but has never, ever, listed the daily programming schedule of TV6 or TV7? Either TVNZ has refused to release the programming schedule to the print media, or the print media have collectively “ganged up” and decided not to publish the daily listings.

    Whatever the reason, if the NZ viewing public don’t know what is on these channels (because their programming in not published in the newspapers), then its little wonder the channels have failed to attract an audience following.

    The TV Guide publishes TV7 listings, but they are buried at the back of the magazine and only the programme name is given , with no hint of what each episode is about, or indeed what the programme is about. All this is a recipe for failure.

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  18. kino flo (83 comments) says:

    Chris2, in my opinion Stratos looks and sounds like rubbish. It obviously doesn’t have the production standards that major broadcasters have. I have a HD tv, and it really bugs me when cheap looking TV comes on, such that I will change channels.

    I suspect the reason there are so many people involved in the TVNZ7 studio in Auckland at 8pm is because they are the shift that starts at Close Up and work through to the end of the 10.30 late news. There are already in the studio, so they might as well work on TVNZ7 at 8. On the other hand, I have been into the TVNZ studio in Wellington for the 8pm news, and there was one person working, and they were working for TV One, not TVNZ7

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