Viewers per dollar for current affairs shows

December 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Have been looking at how many people watch various current affairs shows on television, and how much of a subsidy they get from taxpayers through NZ on Air.

The funding figures for the four shows (from NZ on Air website) are:

  • The Nation $899,000 for 40 hours
  • Q + A $845,000 for 40 hours
  • Backbenches $606,000 for 20 hours
  • Media Take $482,000 for 10 hours

Cost per hour:

  • Media Take $48,200
  • Backbenches $30,300
  • The Nation $22,475
  • Q + A $21,125

Average viewers per episode (based on Nielsen data):

  • Q+A 99,000
  • The Nation 49,000
  • Backbenches 25,400
  • Media Take 1,900

So the cost per viewer hour is:

  • Media Take $12.68
  • Backbenches $1.19
  • The Nation $0.46
  • Q&A $0.21

It is hard to believe we are spending close to half a million dollars a year on a show watched by fewer than 2,000 people a week. In fact the taxpayer subsidy may be even greater than that as it shows on Maori TV, and they also get $55 million a year.

Q&A is the most watched show, and the one you can justify the easiest. The Nation has half the audience for a slightly larger budget. Would we be better served by having just one show, and giving it more resources so it can do more in depth?

I’m a big fan of Backbenches but an audience of 25,000 is pretty small for a cost of over $600,000.

NZ on Air funding should not just be about ratings, but on the other hand funding shows that fewer than 1% of NZ watches (or for Media Take fewer than 0.05%) suggests a problem.

The Nation 21 March 2015

March 20th, 2015 at 8:50 pm by Kokila Patel

This weekend on the Nation

Patrick Gower interviews National’s campaign chair Steven Joyce on whether National is being out-foxed in Northland and reports from the campaign trail with the old fox himself, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

Then Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy talks to Lisa Owen about racism in New Zealand, refugees, and asks if Muslim New Zealanders are being forgotten as the Government ramps up its fight against Islamic State.

And Pacific Economic Ambassador Shane Jones and the Pacific Islands Forum Fishing Agency head James Movick on the intense battle over the Pacific fisheries and the threat of overfishing in New Zealand’s backyard.

We’ll discuss all this and more with our panel: Pacific Studies associate professor Damon Salesa and former Parliamentary staffer and NBR political editor Ben Thomas.

The Nation on TV3, 9.30am Saturdays and 10am Sundays. Proudly brought to you by New Zealand on Air’s Platinum Fund.

The Nation – 28 February 2015

February 27th, 2015 at 9:45 pm by Kokila Patel

Its boots on the ground… kind of. With the announcement that New Zealand is sending trainers to Iraq, 3News political editor Patrick Gower sits down with Prime Minister John Key to find out whether he expects retaliation, how long we’ll be there, and what the end goal is.

Then, as Australians fight abroad – and in the Liberal Party caucus –  Lisa Owen interviews Foreign Minister Julie Bishop about Iraq and whether Tony Abbott is on his way out.

And what is it actually like on the front line? We talk to a British man fighting with Kurdish forces about what’s really needed to defeat Islamic State and what happens if he gets captured.

We’ll discuss all this and more with our panel: Victoria University political scientist Jon Johansson and public relations consultant Matthew Hooton.

The Nation on TV3, 9.30am Saturdays and 10am Sundays.

Check us out online, on Facebook or on Twitter. Tell us what you think at or text 3330.

The Nation is proudly brought to you by New Zealand on Air’s Platinum Fund.

The Nation’s finale

December 12th, 2014 at 3:28 pm by David Farrar

The Nation is having a political extravaganza tomorrow with a year end Holmes style Christmas Party on live television. It’s on at 9.30 am Saturday and replayed Sunday at 10 am.

There will be 60 guests, including myself, talking about the year that is ending, and the year ahead. Those on the show include:

  • Shane Jones
  • Colin Craig
  • Jamie Whyte
  • Hone Harawira
  • Winston Peters
  • Andrew Little, Phil Goff and Jacinda Ardern
  • Nikki Kaye, Jami-Lee Ross and Paul Goldsmith
  • Metiria Turei
  • Jami-Lee Ross
  • David Seymour
  • Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox
  • Ben Uffindell
  • Plus pundits galore

The official blurb is:

TV3’s The Nation comes to an end….for 2014.

This weekend, join hosts Lisa Owen and Paddy Gower to celebrate the weird and wonderful year that was, and look ahead to the delights 2015 could bring.

We’ll be at a festive location, getting into the Christmas spirit with politicians of all stripes, plus business leaders, commentators and Twitterati from the left, right and everything in between.

Forget “Jingle Bells”, Darren Watson of “Planet Key” fame will be belt out a tune or two…will Paddy join him on a tambourine? And Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego will wish everyone a Merry Christmas in their inimitable style, and in just 60 seconds of course. Plus we’ve scoured the archives to bring you our pick of the best political moments of the past 12 months – find out who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.

So get out the mince pies and brace yourselves for a Christmas special like no other, with some of your favourite characters from the Beehive … and beyond.

I’m looking forward to drinking their champagne from 9.30 am!

The Nation debate

August 9th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Colin Craig has successfully muscled his way into TV3’s minor parties leaders’ debate tomorrow morning after taking his case to the High Court.

TV3 executives decided outside the High Court to include the Conservative party leader after he successfully applied for an injunction preventing the debate from airing without him.

TV3 Director of News Mark Jennings said it was either include Craig or cancel the debate and it was not fair to prevent the other parties from being heard. 

Lawyers for Craig applied for an injunction in the High Court at Auckland this afternoon to prevent TV3 owners MediaWorks from airing a debate on its programme The Nation without the Conservative Party leader.

Party leaders from United Future, ACT, the Greens, the Maori Party, New Zealand First and Mana, were due to face off in the debate at 9.30am tomorrow morning.

Justice Murray Gilbert ruled that Craig had an arguable case that TV3’s selection criteria – gaining a seat at the previous election – was insufficient.

I agree that a backwards criteria is insufficient. it locks out parties that have done well since the last election. I’m not saying that means the Conservatives should have been included – just that TV3’s criteria was lacking.

I didn’t watch the debate. What did people make of it? Who was best and worst?

The Nation 7th September 2013

September 6th, 2013 at 8:52 pm by Kokila Patel

Coming up this week on the Nation


  • Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges.
  • Petroleum Exploration and Production Association CEO, David Robinson.
  • Straterra (Minerals and mining lobby group) CEO Chris Baker.
  • Greenpeace executive director Bunny McDiarmid.


  • When Jesus was a schoolboy — what Labour’s leadership candidates did at school and university and what sort of impact  they have made in politics. A Torben Akel investigation.


  • What the bloody hell! Now they’re voting here as well. Aussies in NZ. Suze Metherell among her Kath and Kim.

On TV3 Saturday at 9.30 am, repeated Sunday at 10.30 am

Nash blames caucus and Mold for Shearer’s downfall

August 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

From The Nation today:

Rachel           Alright Mike we’ll come back to you a little later in the programme.  We’re going to go back now to Hastings where I think we have Stuart Nash, and I think he can hear us now?  You can I think.  Excellent.  Thank you for joining us there.  Can I put that to you actually as David Shearer’s former Chief of Staff.  Was it David Shearer who failed or did the team around him, the immediate team around him?  Did that team fail him?

 Stuart Nash – Former Labour MP

 Well I would say two things Rachel.  There were two things that went wrong.  First of all, you know your political history as well as I do, I cannot think of a party that won an election either in government or in opposition that had an openly dysunified caucus, and the second thing I think went wrong is the strategy was wrong in the Leader’s office.

Rachel           Okay so let’s start with the caucus.  What did the Labour caucus think of Shearer?

Stuart             Well they elected him.  When you elect a leader you stand behind that leader, you work very hard for that leader, and you make sure you give that leader the best possible opportunity to win an election.  Politics is about winning elections.  I personally think David would have been a very good Prime Minister, he’s a smart guy.  Look I don’t buy into the argument that he was too nice.  This was a bloke who lived in Mogadishu.  This was a bloke that led the UN in Iraq.  Mr Nice does not do those sorts of jobs.  This was a hard man.  He was a very good bloke, and like I said I think he would have been a very good Prime Minister given the opportunity.

Rachel           What was going on in the Leader’s office then?

Stuart             Well I firmly believe that if you want to be Prime Minister  you’ve gotta give every New Zealander the opportunity to have met you.  Now if you think about if you want to be President of the United States that person has to travel up and down the country and speak in nearly every little hamlet, town, city, right across America.  And it’s the same in New Zealand.  Helen Clark between 1996 and 1999 spent all her time just travelling up and down and right across New Zealand, speaking to every little Rotary Club, Lions Club, Workingmen’s Club, you know you name it Helen talked to it.  You’ve gotta have meetings with town halls that contain 10 people and contain a 100 people.  You’ve gotta give 10 speeches a week, and then you’ve gotta get up and you’ve gotta give another 10 the next week.  Every single year when you are in Opposition is election year.  There is now sort of hiatus, there’s no holiday, you’ve gotta start campaigning the day after the election.

Rachel           So they had the wrong strategy for him then do you think?

Stuart             They did.  I firmly believe that what David needed to do was – well do what Helen did.  Tuesday and Wednesday in parliament, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, up and down the country speaking to New Zealanders.  Like I said if New Zealanders feel they’ve had the opportunity to meet you it doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily taken up that opportunity, but if they feel as if they have had that opportunity then they’re much more likely to vote for you.  And keep in mind if you come to a place like Hastings, or like Napier, the Leader of the Opposition turning up is still big news, you’re still gonna get your photo in the community daily, or the community weekly.

Rachel           So who do you blame for this failure?  Who do you blame for this failure in strategy?

Stuart             Well David had some staff around him that he listened to, that he took advice from.  The bottom line is, David has resigned as Leader of the Opposition because he felt as if he didn’t have the confidence of his caucus colleagues, and that basically is because the polls weren’t rising in a way that the caucus felt he should have.  So you know I think his chief strategists have actually got to put up their hand and say hey we got it wrong.

Rachel           Who?  Exactly who?

Stuart             Well I actually think Fran Mold needs to put up here hand and say look, maybe I didn’t do things as well as I could have in terms of media relations.  Alistair Cameron perhaps has to as Chief of Staff.  But Alistair’s a very good man and I’ve had a couple of conversations with Alistair, but you know the bottom line is David is the Leader, but I just think if he had spent all his time up and down the country, cos he is a good man, he’s a man of absolute integrity, he’s a man of fantastic values, and he could have been a good Prime Minister.  But what I’m talking about, this isn’t rocket science Rachel, this isn’t the first time this has been said.  This is what every leader in New Zealand and across the western world does if they want to be Prime Minister, President, you name it.  They get out and they meet the people, and they find out what the real issues are.

It will be very interesting to see what happens to both the caucus and the leader’s office if Robertson or Cunliffe wins. Robertson is close to most of the leader’s office staff so I suspect little change there if he wins. Cunliffe however could well bring in new people.

Likewise in the caucus, I see little change in the shadow cabinet except a promotion for Ardern is Robertson wins. Cunliffe however could well dispense with some of the old guard who have spent years briefing against him.

Death Penalty Poll

August 18th, 2013 at 11:55 am by David Farrar

Front Page report:

More than a third of New Zealander’s would support the reintroduction of the death penalty.

 In a Curia poll  for TV3’s “ The Nation”  of  624 respondents, 38 per cent were in favour of the death penalty, 55 per cent were against it, and 7 per cent were undecided.

35 per cent of Labour voters favoured the death penalty and National voters polled at 44 per cent. Least likely to be in favour were Green Party voters at 19 per cent, but the most in favour of capital punishment were New Zealand First voters at 84 per cent.

An interesting difference by party support.

The Nation 3 August 2013

August 2nd, 2013 at 8:30 pm by Kokila Patel

Coming up this week

  • The Henry Inquiry – who knew what when?
  • What are the implications for the Government and the press gallery
  • The China Choice – confrontation or co-operation?

Broadcast on TV3 at 9.30 am, repeated on Sunday at 8 am

The Nation 20 July 2013

July 19th, 2013 at 4:20 pm by Kokila Patel

Coming Up this week on The Nation

Why won’t Kiwis work on farms — a special panel.
And why won’t they also work on fishing boats — Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.
Steve Adams — why he may be the last Kiwi to make the NBA draft.
What price 100% Pure New Zealand? Tunnels and monorails in the Conservation estate.

Saturday 9.30 am and Sunday 8.00 am on TV 3

The Nation 29 June 2013

June 27th, 2013 at 8:40 pm by Kokila Patel

This weekend there will be two editions of “The Nation”.

On Saturday at 9:30 we will run a shorter half hour edition featuring interviews with Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and former Fiji coup leader Lt Col Sitiveni Rabuka.

On Sunday at 8:00 we will run our usual hour-long programme and we will have full coverage of the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election including results, analysis and reaction from candidates and party leaders.

We will also repeat the Brownlee and Rabuka interviews.

Would male MPs get this?

May 27th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Rachel Smalley asked Hekia Parata on The Nation at the weekend “Can you at some times be a bit of a bitch to work for?”

I have no problem with asking the are you difficult to work for question, and in fact thought the interview overall was well done.

However would a male MP be asked a question like that?

Would any male MP be asked “Can you at some times be a bit of a prick to work for?”. If not, why not?

The Nation 11 May 2013

May 9th, 2013 at 10:09 pm by Kokila Patel

UPCOMING THIS WEEKEND 0930 SATURDAY – 0800 SUNDAY TV3 will have all our video and transcripts after Sunday’s show.
Housing Minister Nick Smith on why the Government’s got new ideas on how to make housing more affordable in Auckland.
British Attorney General Dominic Grieve, here for the Quintet Attorney Generals’ Meeting, on social media, privacy, contempt, name supression and his reponse to growing demands this week that Britain abandon the European Convention on Human Rights.
Our secial report on Ikaroa Rawhiti and the issues that will decide the by-election. Researcher Tony Ng and Reporter Torben Akel have spent the week travelling from Wainuiomata to Gisborne. Their report will be an eye opener.
Trade Minister Tim Groser on why Japan’s decision to join the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement talks could make us richer — and on why he failed to become head of the WTO. Did we waste $250,000?

The Nation 4 May 2013

May 3rd, 2013 at 9:45 pm by Kokila Patel

UPCOMING THIS WEEKEND 0930 SATURDAY – 0800 SUNDAY TV3 has all our video and transcripts.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce on kickstarting the backblocks.
Far North Mayor, Wayne Brown; Wanganui District Council Mayor, Annette Main and CTU Secretary, Peter Conway on how to get growth and jobs.
Former Detective Rex Hawkins on the 33 year hunt for Rodney Tahu’s killer.
Colin James on the Ikaroa Rawhiti by-election

The Nation 20 April 2013

April 19th, 2013 at 8:53 pm by Kokila Patel

UPCOMING THIS WEEKEND 0930 SATURDAY – 0800 SUNDAY TV3 will have all video and transcripts at 10:00 Sunday
Labour’s energy plan – David Parker
The Greens Energy plan – Gareth Hughes
NZ First’s energy plan (and why he’s supporting the GCSB legislation) – Winston Peters
Former Energy Minister, Max Bradford, on all the plans
Colin James on the politics of it all
On the Sunday Media Panel – Brian Edwards, Bill Ralston and guest, Investigate editor Ian Wishart on how the Christian media covered the gay marriage bill.

The Nation 13 April 2013

April 12th, 2013 at 9:07 pm by Kokila Patel has all our video and transcripts.

1.      The GCSB affair — Do we know everything that happend — what next, how should it be fixed. Former director Sir Bruce Ferguson and Mai Chen with Rachel.
2.      What should NZ do about North Korea — Professor Xiaoming Huang (VUW), Stephen Epstein (VUW), Insoo Park (Korean Society of Auckland), Profesosr John Earnshaw (Cantebury).
3.       Tape report: Inside the Conservative Party — is there more to it than Colin Craig; could it form a Government with National.
4.       Gavin Ellis will be on the Sunday Media Panel with Brian Edwards and Bill Ralston on how the Government has spun the GCSB affair.

The Nation is produced by Front Page Ltd for TV3 and NZ on Air.

The Nation 23 March 2013

March 22nd, 2013 at 8:27 pm by Kokila Patel
  1. Graham “Richo” Richardson on the Australian Labor Party leadership debacle.
  2. Torben Akel investigates how the Govenrment’s radical new plan to manage freshwater is going down in the heartland.
  3. Green MP, Eugenie Sage; Federated Farmers Environment spokesman, Ian MacKenzie; Ecologic Executive Director, Guy Salmon debate the proposal.
  4. And we talk to the TV star who has burst the Novopay bubble.
  5. On the Media Panel on Sunday Brian Edwards and Bill Ralston will have David Hastings author of “Extra Extra”, a new book on the raucous world of 19th century Auckland newspapers as their guest. And we will have details of how you can win a copy of the book


Farewell to The Nation

December 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

UPDATE: The story is false. NZ on Air is funding The Nation in 2013. This is not a good look for a news site whose tag line is “Informed, Influential, Indispensable”

NZ Inc reports:

Meanwhile, news spread last night that The Nation has missed out on funding for 2013 from New Zealand on Air’s Platinum Fund.  The Nation is the flagship of Richard Harman’s Frontpage stable.  Under Harman, The Nation produced comprehensive current affairs stories as well as the big interviews. It also cemented host Rachel Smalley as a force to be reckoned with.

The Nation’s competitor – TVNZ’s Q&A – is expected to resume again next year but without founding host Paul Holmes who has retired for health reasons and also without producer Tim Watkin who wants his weekends back. No news yet on Holmes replacement but Watkin is expected to move to a new role at TVNZ.

This is a real shame. I have enjoyed having two in depth current affairs and politics shows on TV. They have their distinctive styles and I especially enjoyed the Ralston and Edwards segment on the media on The Nation. I also think Rachel Smalley had matured into an excellent interviewer.

It will be interesting to see what Q+A does next year with a new host and producer.

Slater on The Nation

November 4th, 2012 at 3:58 pm by David Farrar

A very good segment on The Nation with Truth Editor Cameron Slater, Bill Ralston, Brian Edwards and Rachel Smalley.

The Nation 2 November 2012

November 1st, 2012 at 9:54 pm by Kokila Patel has all our video and transcripts.
1. Bernie Monk (Spokesperson , Pike River Victims’ Families) and Nigel Hampton QC on what the Pankhurst Inquiry into the Mine Disaster (to be released next week) should say.
2. Our bail laws — Shelley Nahr goes to Court to find out who gets bail and why. And she talks to the defendants about how they found trying to get bail.
3. Kirk Labour Government — 40th Anniversary — Former Labour Minister, Bob Tizard; staffer and Kirk biographer, Margaret Hayward; ad man, Bob Harvey and our own analyst and co- author of “The Making of a PM” about Kirk — Colin James.
4. Stefan Brown — half of “Ebony” who recorded the chart topping “Big Norm” about Kirk in 1974 and who get the last telegram Kirk ever sent will perform the song.
5. Brian Edwards — who has sued “Truth” twice — and Bill Ralston who probably wanted to, will be joined by its new editor, Cameron “Whaleoil” Slater.

Broadcast on TV 3  Saturday 9.30 am, and on Sunday at 8 am

The Nation 20 October 2012

October 19th, 2012 at 11:57 pm by Kokila Patel
  1. Hone Harawira — Protester or politician?
  2. Jan Wright — on her damning report on the Government’s ETS scheme
  3. John Carnegie (Business NZ), William Rolleston (Fed Farmers) and Kennedy Graham (Green MP) on Ms Wright’s report
  4. Colin James
  5. Keith Ng joins Brian Edwards and Bill Ralston on blogging and journalism.

Broadcast on Saturday – TV 3 9.30 am, repeated on Sunday at 8 am

The Nation 6 October 2012

October 5th, 2012 at 11:03 pm by Kokila Patel

1. Does saying yes to Hobbits also mean we surrender our sovereignty under the Trans Pacific Partnership — NZCTU President, Helen Kelly; NZ – US Council director, Stephen Jacobi; Professor Jane Kelsey and representatives from the film production industry debate this issue.
2. An investigation into the troubled state of the University of Canterbury.
3. The University’s Vice Chancellor is live with Rachel.
4. Brian Edwards is finally back from Italy! So he’s back on the Media Panel — this week, with Susan Wood.

Broadcast on TV 3, Saturday 9.30 am, repeated on Sunday at 8 am

The Nation 29 September 2012

September 27th, 2012 at 10:07 pm by Kokila Patel


1. Labour Leader David Shearer with Rachel Smalley, John Hartevelt and Alex Tarrant; a special extended interview.
2. The Future of Act — Natasha Smith investigates. A tape report.
There will be additional items in this weekend’s show — stay in touch via our website which we will update as we firm up interviews.

Broadcast on TV 3 at 9 am Saturday, repeated on Sunday at 8 am

The Nation 22 September 2012

September 21st, 2012 at 8:06 am by Kokila Patel

   Video and transcripts of this show will be posted on  on Sunday afternoon..

  1. Justice Minister Judith Collins on law and order etc.
  2. Retiring Serious Fraud Office CEO, Adam Feeley on his wins and losses at the SFO.
  3. Monetary policy and the dollar — Don Brash, David Parker and Winston Peters debate Mr Peters Private Members’ Bill to amend the Reserve Bank Act.
  4. Colin James on the politics of Ms Collins and the debate over the value of the dollar.
  5. The Sunday Media Panel will be Bill Ralston and Newstalk ZB’s Susan Wood

The Nation 15 September 2012

September 13th, 2012 at 10:27 pm by Kokila Patel

The Manufacturing Crisis.
1. Jenee Tibshraeny reports from Kawerau — once the Government’s manufacturing showpiece now the country’s welfare capital on the latest redundancies at the paper mill.
2. Natasha Smith reports from Whangarei on the bright future facing one of the country’s super yacht builders — part of the marine industry, now our biggest manufacturing industry.
3. Kawerau Mayor Malcolm Campbell is with Rachel.
4. EPMU National Secretary also with Rachel
5. Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is with Rachel.
6. The Media Panel is Bill Ralston and NewstalkZB’s Susan Wood. (Brian is still lost in Italy).

Broadcast on TV 3, Saturday – 9.30 am, repeated on Sunday at 8 am with the Media Panel