From Close Up to closed down, it’s the end of an era for a New Zealand television staple and its current frontman, Mark Sainsbury.
TVNZ announced a proposal yesterday to switch off the programme by the end of the year, with 16 staff going through a consultation period until mid next month.
Sainsbury said he would have preferred the programme and his role to continue but ultimately he accepted the broadcaster’s decision.
“I’d love to keep going until I drop dead. But let’s be real, it is the end of an era,” he said yesterday after six years with the show and 31 years at the network.
“They’ve been looking at the programme for most of the year – we’d made a huge effort – but they want to make changes.”
Last night, on signing off for the night on his programme, Sainsbury said the Close Up format “as we know it” was ending after 23 years.
“But a new different programme will emerge next year.
“It’s an exciting time in this business when change happens, whether you want that change to occur or not, and the feeling is that it’s time for change,” he said.
Sainsbury stopped short of saying he was leaving TVNZ but said he had no regrets over his 31-year career.
A long-time commuter to Auckland, he is expected to return to his Wellington home when the curtain falls.
Former TVNZ broadcasters said they had concerns the proposal to pull the plug on Close Up was another step towards dumbing down content.
Former TVNZ news and current affairs executives Bill Ralston and Paul Norris said they had fears the programme might be replaced with an even more lightweight “info-tainment” show designed to draw in larger audiences while neglecting serious analytical stories.
I may be wrong but I suspect it will head to more info-tainment. My guess is a couple of stories per show, with a panel talking about them, and soliciting viewer feedback through social media.
The big question is will this see the return of Paul Henry? He’s guaranteed to see huge interest, initially anyway.