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Here is the news … hub

MediaWorks will rebrand its TV3 news offering from February, with NewshubLive replacing 3 News at 6pm, and other bulletins through the day also getting new titles.

While the presentation of the coming changes is all about aligning the offer across MediaWorks’ online, radio and TV platforms, the reality might be a little more prosaic and – given the broadcaster’s financial situation – driven more by the opportunity to save money than develop its offer.

Gone are the days when a TV, radio and online reporter working for the same organisation would produce three substantively different takes on the same story. While that changing environment is not MediaWorks’ fault, the company hasn’t claimed creating Newshub is a way to increase its NCA content offer.

After last year, it’s doubtful there’d be much public appetite for that. If the broadcaster has been successful at anything in the last year, it’s been at farewelling NCA programming and audiences. That it’s now cramming three into one (newsroom) should be no surprise.

The emphasis on Newshub’s 24-hour service rather suggests MediaWorks hasn’t provided such a service up until now. The bullet MediaWorks has yet to bite is how to produce less news, not more. TVNZ’s 6pm programme now contains so little news that Seven Sharp looks like a current affairs programme by comparison.

3 News and soon to be NewshubLive presenter Mike McRoberts was reported as being excited … about getting a new desk. If the broadcaster is going to further erode its 6pm audience, it’s determined to look good as it does so.

While MediaWorks is fretting about how to hold on to second place in the news ratings and announcing more appointments that have a lot to do with looking for income and little to do with television, TVNZ’s latest announcement demonstrated the gulf between the broadcasters.

TVNZ has announced a new channel, without yet giving it a name or a start date, one for the boys. The broadcaster’s CE Kevin Kenrick said the decision to go ahead with the channel came following research into responses to its pop-up channel. Noting the channel would be available on TV, desktop and mobile devices, Kenrick also said the decision “reflects TVNZ’s strategy to make compelling content available wherever viewers want to see it”. (Unless of course, where people want to see something is YouTube, which is more popular than TV2 in certain demographics.)

From the information made available today by TVNZ, it seems there’ll be nothing in the new channel for members of the local industry, other than for those handling channel operations. The release notes the content as “an international slate of top drama, sport, comedy, factual titles and movies”.

There’s no commitment to first-run content, although one would assume at least some of the sport will get its first free to air run on the channel.

While both major free to air broadcasters are ducking and diving for all they’re worth as they try to stay afloat, TVNZ seems to be weathering the storm more successfully, perhaps because it was out of the traps first, shedding channels, programmes and presenters a while back. Now it markets changes as giving the audience what it wants, in contrast to MediaWorks’ repeated move of putting a knife through the heart of programming with a passionate following.

There seem to be fundamental differences of attitude. MediaWorks, a broadcaster which has been a commercial entity all its life, still runs around like a kid in a toy store, trying out a programming strategy, throwing it away and running with the next shiny toy. TVNZ, which has had a commercial mandate for less than a decade, behaves as if it owns the toy store.

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