Tag Archives: TVNZ

TVNZ finally, finally breaks out of its shackles

There must have been some serious celebrations in the Executive Suite at TVNZ when the pubcaster got the go-ahead from its shareholders (New Zealand Incorporated, AKA The Government) to launch its first pay television channel, Heartland (launching on the Sky platform in June).

To put the channel launch into its proper perspective, we need to dig deep into our memories. Although it seems inconceivable now, back in the 1990s Television New Zealand had a significant strategic shareholding in Sky Television — enough to ensure that the pay TV operator worked in tandem with our state broadcaster rather than attempted to shape its own independent destiny.

Free to air television? Back in those days, TVNZ was by far the dominant player, working its way through a massive stockpile of sought-after content (cunningly purchased before our third channel had even managed to hire its first staff members).

The internet? Something for the geeks. We were still tethered to desperately slow dialup modems with their signals scratching and beeping their way through copper cables, so the notion of television through the WWW sounded like science fiction of the third kind.

Television New Zealand was on top of the world, unassailable market share, all bases covered.

Times changed.

Politics intervened (as it always must while our state broadcaster remains in public hands). TVNZ’s shareholding in Sky got watered down when the Government of the Day decided first to let its share diminish (rather than inject more capital as the pay operator expanded), and then in 1999 to get out entirely.

As we see it,TVNZ has been trying to get back into pay television ever since.

The company struck a deal with TelstraSaturn in 2000 for a satellite-delivered DTH (Direct To Home) pay television service, but this (ahem) never got off the ground. Various other plans were floated over the years but the shareholders had other ideas. Commercialism gave way to Charter and thence (in 2007) to Freeview.

It’s a technology, not a platform

The biggest challenge for TVNZ with Freeview is that the service is publicly seen as a platform, somehow “competing” with Sky. It’s not — it’s just another method of broadcasting free-to-air television signals, and one that’s going to become universal soon enough (as the old analogue equipment dies), whether consumers want it or not. Television New Zealand (and to a lesser extent TVWorks) somehow got lumbered with the responsibility of turning the country digital, in the process assuming culpability for the inevitable outcry when the final vacuum tube in the electromechanical analogue television transmitting device slowly fades to black.

The Government helpfully doled out some money to TVNZ for a couple of shiny new channels, in order to lure consumers to this brave “new” digital world (conveniently ignoring the fact that Sky’s satellite channels had been digital since 1998). Unfortunately, that money came with strings attached: no ads on TVNZ6 or TVNZ7, thanks, just “limited sponsorship” (whatever that meant).

Back to the Future

And so we come to today. TVNZ has a strategy of being “on every screen”. The problem is that not many screens actually make much money for the broadcaster. The internet doesn’t (not compared with broadcast revenues). TiVo’s a long play, so don’t expect much there. TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 revenues are capped (and probably there’s not much left over once the programming costs are allocated against government subsidies). So Television New Zealand remains hostage to the diminished pool of revenues it can extract from advertisers for airtime on Television One and TV2. And last time we looked, adspend wasn’t pretty. 2010 is not going to be “the year it all came right”.

But finally, a glimmer of hope.

Heartland. On pay television at last, so (theoretically at least) some viewer revenues change hands. And this channel can and will take advertising, so TVNZ finally has some incremental revenues from its core business. It’s about time.

Bravo, TVNZ. And bravo to the Government of our Day, for finally getting out of the way and letting TVNZ get on with the business of television.

War of the Words

The Dom Post is reporting on yet another skirmish between Hybrid TV (part-owned by TVNZ, and local operators of TiVo) and Sky, this time because of Sky’s refusal to allow TiVo to publish Prime listings to its electronic programme guide. The opening paragraph suggests that “Hybrid Television may [include Prime programme listings on] TiVo’s EPG without the permission of Sky”.
We had to smile. Programme listing copyrights date back to the sixties and seventies, when television was state-owned and only the then-government-owned NZ Listener was allowed to publish television programme information more than a day in advance. That monopoly was broken, but only in return for a fee paid to the orginating broadcaster.
Until now, that arrangement has suited operators – as recently as April 2007,  TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards told the NZ Herald “We will continue to charge other media where the [TV] listings are being used for commercial advantage.” According to that 2007 article, “TVNZ, unlike TV3, Sky or other broadcasters, jealously guards its programme listings.”

The Dom Post is reporting on yet another skirmish between Hybrid TV (part-owned by TVNZ, and local operators of TiVo) and Sky, this time because of Sky’s refusal to allow TiVo to publish Prime listings to its electronic programme guide. The opening paragraph suggests that “Hybrid Television may [include Prime programme listings on] TiVo’s EPG without the permission of Sky”.

We had to smile. Programme listing copyrights date back to the sixties and seventies, when television was state-owned and only the then-government-owned NZ Listener was allowed to publish television programme information more than a day in advance. That monopoly was broken, but only in return for a fee paid to the orginating broadcaster.

Until now, that arrangement has suited operators – as recently as April 2007,  TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards told the NZ Herald “We will continue to charge other media where the [TV] listings are being used for commercial advantage.” According to that 2007 article, “TVNZ, unlike TV3, Sky or other broadcasters, jealously guards its programme listings.”

Irony. It’s an acquired taste.


The Dominion Post is today reporting that Kiwis may be able to access Television New Zealand’s Ondemand online TV service through the PlayStation 3 from early next year. TVNZ has confirmed that the broadcaster would make an announcement about an “exciting partnership” with PS3 manufacturer Sony in the new year, but did not elaborate.

The broadcaster released a statement after Sony announced on a blog that on-demand TV websites from various countries would be accessible through the web-connected game console, and (initially) displayed the TVNZ Ondemand icon.

It’s no great surprise — TVNZ has previously noted its intention to offer content via the PS3 — but it is bad timing. With Christmas looming, the broadcaster would undoubtedly prefer that consumers focus on (and sign up for) the TiVo rather than the PS3.

TVNZ Optimistically Raises 2010 Rates

TVNZ unveiled its Q1 2010 ratecard today, with increases across almost all zones.

Economic downturn notwithstanding, the pubcaster thinks it can squeeze a few more dollars out of February and March 2010 because of (a) total viewership figures expected to post continuing Year On Year increases; (b) increased demand for leading programmes.

Alas, we don’t share TVNZ’s optimism for early 2010.

Those green shoots spotted recently? That was just the reflected glow of kryptonite, keeping us all in a weakened state for some time to come.

Anyway, here’s TVNZ’s ratecard for the remainder of Q1 2009 (January long since announced):

Television One                         FEB           MAR          AVG

PEAK 1800-2230                                 +2%          +2%             +2%
ALCOHOL 2030-2400                       +1%           -3%              -1%
LATENIGHT 2230-2400                   -5%           -2%              -3%
DAYTIME 0600-1800                      +8%          +3%             +5%
AFTERNOON M-F 1200-1500       +2%            -1%                0%

TV2                                                 FEB           MAR         AVG

PEAK 1800-2230                                 +4%          +4%             +4%
ALCOHOL 2030-2400                          0%           +1%             +1%
LATENIGHT 2230-2400                   +1%             0%                0%
DAYTIME 0600-1800                      +8%          +8%              +8%
AFTERNOON M-F 1200-1500     +10%        +12%            +11%

As ever, the prices actually paid for airtime will depend on market conditions prevailing at time of purchase.

TVNZ New Season 2010

Yesterday saw the launch of TVNZ’s 2010 New Season.

We’ll skip past the hype, of which there was plenty, and the hoopla (ditto), and get down to the business of talking programming.


Here’s the representative schedule for Television One for 2010:

Television One Schedule 2010

You can probably recognize the returning series. Here’s a peek at what’s new:

From the creative team that brought us Band Of Brothers, comes the epic HBO television mini-series The Pacific (the highest-budget television drama series ever made at a cost of over $15m per episode).
Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman are the force behind this epic drama that will follow the intertwined odysseys of three US Marines during America’s battle with the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II. The story will focus on the personal experiences of the Marines from their first action at Guadalcanal, through Iwo Jima and Okinawa and the war’s end in the late summer of 1945.


From the creative team that brought us Band Of Brothers, comes the epic HBO television ten-part mini-series The Pacific (reportedly the highest-budget television drama series ever made, at a cost of over $15m per episode). The series has yet to screen in the US so we can’t share any ratings.

Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman are the force behind this epic drama that will follow the intertwined odysseys of three US Marines during America’s battle with the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II. The story will focus on the personal experiences of the Marines from their first action at Guadalcanal, through Iwo Jima and Okinawa and the war’s end in the late summer of 1945.

Check out the trailer:

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The Pacific will kick off the Monday night mini-series lineup on Television One, to be followed in the same timezone later in the year by a repeat of Band of Brothers; and then by another seven-part combat-torn mini-series, this time tracing the invasion of Iraq in 2003: GENERATION KILL. This new show is the latest offering from The Wire’s creators David Simon and Ed Burns.

GENERATION KILL (another HBO production) is based on the work of Rolling Stone journalist Evan Wright who was embedded with the marines of the first reconnaissance battalion as they journeyed from Kuwait to Baghdad.

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America may not yet be ready for dramatisations of the War in Iraq — GENERATION KILL could only manage 1.3 million viewers when it premiered in the states in July last year, about half the audience that watched another HBO series, “Thomas Jefferson”. We expect the mini-series to do rather better in NZ.


Mikey Havoc is a proud North Shore boy who loves his country.  But something’s been bugging him. He’s not happy with the fact that while he lives alongside Maori his actual knowledge of Maori is pretty limited.


Mikey sets out to put that right, getting up close and personal with three iwi  – the wealthy, business astute South island tribe Ngai Tahu, the first language speaking Ngai Tuhoe from the central North Island and the largest tribe, the former ferocious war mongers from Northland,  Nga Puhi.

Mikey wants to find out what makes each one unique but also find his place in the country and learn where he fits in as a white New Zealander in New Zealand.




A select few of New Zealand’s amateur chefs are about to feel the heat of the professional kitchen. They all want to have their own restaurant. They all dream of being the next Jamie Oliver or even the next Marco Pierre-White. But can they stand the inferno of MasterChef New Zealand? Initial rounds will see a large number of hopeful contestants from across New Zealand audition to gain a place as a semi-finalist before judges, Ray McVinnie, Ross Burden and Simon Gault.




Travelling on holiday is meant to be the best time of your life, but what happens when that all goes drastically wrong? This series tells the dramatic stories of the innocent Brits who were violently snatched and taken hostage whilst abroad. Each episode of My Holiday Hostage Hell hears one absorbing story from those people who managed to escape their captors alive. The person who was held captive retells the story of their nightmare.


Trinny and Susannah take on the land of hope and glory.

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Explorer, archaeologist and crypto zoologist Leigh Hart leaves NZ and embarks on an epic journey in a bid to finally solve the world’s greatest mysteries. Armed only with his questionable expertise, a healthy dose of scepticism and a credit card, That Guy undertakes a quest that takes him far from home, to some of the most intriguing, remote, and physically challenging locations in the world.


Leigh brings a fresh, unorthodox approach to his travels and searches for the truth, whether that means trekking through South America in search of El Dorado:The Lost City of Gold, or joining expeditions to fi Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster.

With a healthy dose of scepticism and ignorance he will meet and challenge many of the ‘acclaimed experts’ on matters as diverse as the pyramids, the Bermuda triangle and UFOs. Leigh dares to dig deeper than previous documentaries, and brings a ‘Lets wrap this up once and for all’ sort of approach to all his investigations.


Comedian Billy Connolly takes the adventurous journey of a lifetime, travelling from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Starting in Nova Scotia, heading north above the Arctic Circle, then working east to west by way of the legendary North-West Passage, then overland across the Canadian North West, before finally ending up at Vancouver on the Pacific seaboard, he’ll make his way from ocean to ocean by one of the world’s most spectacular yet little seen routes.

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Saturday also sees the 007 Movie Season, with 22 titles stretching through nearly half the year. Plenty of opportunities to choose your favourite James Bond and follow him through the series.




Monday looks pretty familiar.

Tuesday sees the launch of the first New Zealand edition of The Apprentice. We probably don’t have to tell you too much about that.

Wednesday sees the final season of LOST. TVNZ say they hope to present the final episode on the same day as it airs in the US.



An unexplained, cataclysmic event knocks out the entire population of the world at the exact same moment – and as they black out, everyone gets a glimpse into their own future. After two minutes and 17 seconds, the population reawakens to the chaos around them.

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In his flash forward, LA FBI Agent Mark Benford glimpses a terrifying future that he has to stop at all costs. As Mark and his team struggle to work out what caused this bizarre event, the only thing they have to go on is a huge mosaic of humanity’s flash forwards, as people start to ask each other, ‘what did you see?’

Flash Forward started strongly in the US (12.45 million viewers for the premiere episode); and although it’s since slipped (see graph below), the network has extended the first season order from 13 to 25 episodes.

Our own view: the series concept is extremely strong. However each episode so far (up to #8 in the US) progresses the storyline at a very gradual pace. Richer episodic content would greatly improve the show’s ongoing appeal.



You’ve seen this stuff before.


Frankie is middle aged, middle class and living in the middle of the country, drawing on all her skills to keep the dysfunctional family running smoothly. This harried wife and working mother of three uses her wry wit and sense of humour to try to get her family through each day intact. Ratings performance? 8.6 million viewers on its debut in the US, a reasonable showing for a middle-of-the-road comedy.

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Saturdays, again deja vu.


Following the success of previous Matthew & Marc’s Rocky Road adventures, the boys are back with a brand new series, this time visiting India.


Each episode will follow Matthew & Marc as they learn the intricacies of the culture including cultural dancing and dress.




Inevitably.  Although the book on which this series is based actually predates the Twilight fever.

It’s Elena’s first day back at Mystic Falls High School since the tragic death of her parents. Along with her Aunt Jenna, Elena tries her best to look after her troubled younger brother and salvage what family they have left. The first day is already shaping up to be a struggle for Elena until she meets the mysterious new kid at school, Stefan. Elena is touched that he can relate to what she’s going through. What Elena doesn’t know is that Stefan is a vampire, constantly resisting the urge to taste her blood.

The show pulled in 4.8 million viewers on its September debut in the US, making it the CW network’s most-watched series premiere ever.

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A brand new local mystery drama, set in the near future. In the idyllic, eco-friendly town of Waimoana, a man wakes to find he has a wonderful life – but he can’t remember any of it.


His family tell him that his name is ‘Alec Ross’, and that he has amnesia. After being taken to an institution called Wellness, he is told he needs urgent surgery. Suspicious, he tries to escape but is forcibly subdued, and awakens peacefully the next day. Everything seems perfect – his house, his family, his life; except that he finds a message from himself that makes his blood run cold.

“If you’re watching this – whatever people are saying, don’t trust them. Your family is not your family. You are not Alec Ross.”


With an ugly divorce behind her and a 40th birthday lurking just round the corner, Jules Cobb (Courtney Cox) longs for a little more action in her life. The available men her age are seemingly only interested in dating barely-legal hotties.

The US broadcast of the COUGARTOWN pilot episode achieved 11.28 million viewers and the series was quickly picked up for the full season.

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When the beautiful, but vapid, wannabe model Deb has a fatal car accident, she suddenly finds herself in front of Heaven’s gatekeeper, Fred. Fred measures up her life but can’t allocate her a spot in the afterlife, as she’s lived a life devoid of good or bad deeds. Outraged, she attempts to persuade him to return her to her shallow existence – but she is accidentally relegated to the body of the recently deceased Jane Bingum, who is a brilliant, thoughtful and plus-size attorney.

DROP DEAD DIVA has been screening on The Lifetime Channel in the US, attracting 2.8 million viewers — enough to get the series renewed for a second season. The show also aired on the Nine Network in Australia but failed to achieve high ratings for the channel and was subsequently dropped in early September.

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And finally:


Christopher Chance is a mysterious security agent for hire who assumes different identities according to his client’s needs – at times literally becoming a human target.

HUMAN TARGET is due to launch on the Fox network in the US early in 2o1o.

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Happy viewing!

Economic Recovery: Are We There Yet?

“Media owners have provided a great deal of additional value during the past six to nine months but we’re now entering a more ‘normalised’ environment. So trading will have to return to contracted levels.” TVNZ Head of Sales Dave Walker, quoted in Planit (14 October 2009)

MediaWorks CEO Brent Impey was similarly bullish at the TV3/C4 New Season launch, reporting that business has really picked up over the last eight weeks; and more money has been booked on television with MediaWorks in the last seven days than ever before in its history.

So — back to business as usual then, at least for television?

Alas, if only it were that simple. As we’ve learned from past “economic corrections”, the fourth quarter of each year is always a time of hope, when those marketers who have held back during the earlier part of the year spend what pennies they can scrape together, hoping for at least some Christmas sales to offset what’s been for most an annus horribilis.

Much as we’d like to believe that those “green shoots” of economic recovery spotted by optimistic observers will blossom forth and bear sumptuous harvest (if we may be forgiven for threshing the metaphor) — we fear that this new growth spurt won’t last past Boxing Day.

We’re not just being cantankerous. Despite the well-documented restoration of consumer and even business confidence, in our opinion it’s only skin-deep; the underlying realities suggest a slow recovery. As Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard observed recently, “we expect the economy to begin growing again toward the end of [2009], but the recovery is likely to be slow and drawn out. It could also be erratic. To many households it may not feel like a recovery at all, with lower employment, house prices and wage increases into next year.”

Businesses will be starting to plan now (or soon) for 2010/11 financial years starting in April or July 2010. Based on current trading conditions, company finance directors are unlikely to approve significant marketing budget increases for next year — green  shoots may look pretty in the garden but they don’t stand up too well under the harsh spotlights of the boardroom.

As a result, we don’t expect marketing budgets to show much improvement until 2011. Consumers and businesses may well be telling researchers that they expect conditions to improve over the next twelve months — but that’s largely expressing an expectation that things won’t get any worse, not that they’ll suddenly turn absolutely fabulous.

Even Christmas 2009 may not provide the boost that business is anticipating. The latest Kiwi consumer credit figures (to August 31) show a 4.6% slump in borrowing; and Kiwis are saving just 0.2% more than they were twelve months ago. Philip Borkin, economist at ANZ National Bank, summed up the challenge we all face: “A lot of people are paying down debt, and until we see the credit numbers improve, we’re not expecting much to change. For retailers this is a critical time – if we don’t get a pick-up then this could be a very challenging time for them.”

Economists’ cautions are supported by other indicators. Jasons Travel Media recently asked Kiwis what they’re planning to do for the Christmas and summer holidays. A staggering 60% of respondents are changing their plans from the norm this summer – opting to spend their time somewhere other than where they have gone for summer holidays in the past. When asked, there were a plethora of reasons for the break from traditional plans including ‘better deals on accommodation elsewhere’, ‘decided to go somewhere close’ and ‘money is a bit tight this year’. In those Clintonesque words, “It’s the economy, stupid”.

It’s not just us, of course. The latest news from the land of (former?) Hope and (lost?) Glory suggests that parsimony rather than plenty is a global reality these holidays.

The just-published Holiday Forecast Consumer Behaviour Report from PriceGrabber.com finds that this holiday season American consumers will NOT be buying Christmas goodies for:

  • Acquaintances, 57%
  • Co-workers, 53%
  • Service providers (eg parking attendant, housekeeper), 44%
  • Extended family (sorry auntie), 42%
  • Friends, 31%

Other Holiday Trends from the PriceGrabber.com survey of 2,018 online consumers, conducted from Sept. 24, 2009 to Oct. 12, 2009:

Consumers are more price-sensitive than ever
More than ever, comparison shopping is on the forefront of consumers’ minds, with 70 percent of consumers doing more research and comparison shopping online, compared with 38 percent last year. And fifty percent of consumers are planning to shop at discount or outlet stores this year, while only 43 percent did so last year.

Consumers are cutting back
Fifty-three percent of consumers are planning to spend less than they did last year. Of the consumers who are planning to spend less this Christmas, 48 percent reveal that one of the reasons that they are spending less is due to an increase in prices (necessities, gas, etc.), 45 percent cite lack of confidence in the economy, and 38 percent indicate making less money as a reason for spending less.

Shopping has started earlier, to ease the impact of holiday spending
In past years, Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, late in November) has been the unofficial start of the American holiday shopping season. This year, US consumers are planning to start their holiday shopping long before Black Friday, with 22 percent of consumers starting their holiday shopping in October and 29 percent starting in November.

In New Zealand, retailers have been in Christmas shopping mode for some time. The ubiquitous Cameron Brewer, chief executive of the Newmarket Business Association, warned in late September that “for better or worse consumers can expect to see Christmas decorations and displays popping up in some New Zealand shops over the next few weeks.”

Kiwis usually do their shopping somewhat ahead of the Christmas rush anyway. A 2007 study by AMP Capital Shopping Centres found that:

  • 25% of Kiwis have begun their Christmas shopping by September 25, three months out from Christmas
  • 16% start shopping in October
  • 21% hit the malls in November
  • 33% wait until the last fortnight before Christmas
  • 7% of us (three-quarters male, inevitably) leave Christmas shopping until the last minute
  • Meanwhile an impossibly virtuous 3% head to the Boxing Day sales with vim and vigour, buying their gifts for the following year 364 days early.

Gift lists are trimmed down to manage budgets
When it comes to holiday spending this year, 36 percent of US consumers expect to spend between $100 and $499, 28 percent plan to spend $500 to $999, and 30 percent anticipate a holiday spend of $1,000 or more.

We don’t have any recent NZ data for Christmas spend levels, but a five-year-old study by UMR Research on behalf of Visa International found that:

  • More than 50% of Kiwis expected to spend less than $300 on Christmas gifts
  • 16 percent intended to spend less than $100
  • One in twenty said they were planning to “splash out” and spend more than $1000
  • Credit card holders were more likely to expect to spend over $500 than non-cardholders (22 percent compared with 12 percent)
  • Men generally planned to spend slightly more than women
  • The most profligate age group was 30-44 year-olds.

Add a few dollars for five years of moderate inflation, deduct as required for economic downturn du jour, season to taste.


The biggest declines in Year On Year reported advertising expenditure (according to Nielsen Media Research data, Jan-Aug 2009 vs Jan-Aug 2008, at ratecard values) are:

  • Automotive (down $20.1 million)
  • Investment/Finance/Banking (down $17.8 million)
  • Government (down $11.8 million)
  • Home Improvements (down $7.7 million)

In terms of individual advertisers, Telecom has had the biggest drop in reported spend, down by 32% ($10.7 million) YOY. 16 of the top 20 advertisers would seem to have recorded YOY expenditure increases, but we suspect this has more to do with better deals being negotiated in recessionary times rather than extra dollars squeezed out of corporate coffers.

Are we likely to see any of those lost ad dollars return in 2010?
We don’t expect the Financial sector to dip into its battered piggy banks in the near future. As we’ve already seen, consumer borrowing remains down as we pay off our debts (just in case). The housing boom is over so we won’t be desperately seeking mortgages every six months; and our memories of the financial sector meltdown are all too fresh, so the non-bank financial intermediaries are rather less likely to advertise just now.

The Government? Officially on a fiscal diet. We’ll see a splurge of local body activity in Local Election Year 2010, especially as the SuperCity emerges from its chrysalis, but that doesn’t usually translate into big dollars.

Automotive? Well, you know what’s been happening offshore. Within New Zealand, if we look at how many Kiwis say they’ll be buying a new car within the next six months, that number’s dropped from 41,000 in July 2008 to 24,000 in July 2009 (Roy Morgan Single Source data).

Home Improvements? According to Roy Morgan Single Source, 706,000 Kiwis say they plan to refurbish or redecorate their home in some way (such as replacing curtains, carpet or wallpaper) in the next year — well down from 830,000 twelve months ago. And just 367,000 (was 460,000) are planning to spend more than $5,000 renovating or extending their homes in the next twelve months. With fewer consumers willing to pimp their homes, competition’s going to be fiercer than ever for the Home Improvement dollar.


As a small country far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy, New Zealand is at the mercy of global forces in a number of ways, not least the dark and mysterious menace known as the multinational balance sheet. As each quarterly reporting deadline looms in the financial capitals of the world, global CFOs swoop on allocated but unspent marketing budgets from the tiny, farflung outposts of their empires in a futile botoxian effort to tart up the numbers.

Given the current economic woes in most of the countries to which our multinational branches report, local marketing budgets won’t be doing anything but shrinking in most 2009/10 financial years — which takes us to October or November 2010 (based on typical multinational financial years) before any fiscal relief is even theoretically possible.

In other words, multinational marketers (the biggest spenders in our mass media) won’t be driving any Kiwi advertising recovery any time soon. Don’t batten down the ratecard just yet.


Our global counterparts aren’t expecting much from 2010. World Advertising Research Centre (WARC) media inflation forecasts for the year ahead (just released) don’t inspire much optimism unless you live in the emerging economies of China, India or Russia. Projections for media inflation (2010 vs 2010) for three of our key indicator markets:


  • Television up 1.6%
  • Newspapers up 0.6%
  • Magazines no change
  • Radio up 0.5%
  • Cinema up 0.8%
  • Out of home up 1.1%
  • Internet up 5.5%

United Kingdom:

  • Television down 3.3%
  • Newspapers down 0.6%
  • Magazines down 2.4%
  • Radio down 2.0%
  • Cinema down 0.5%
  • Out of home down 0.8%
  • Internet down 5.8%


  • Television down 5.0%
  • Newspapers down 4.5%
  • Magazines up 1.0%
  • Radio down 5.0%
  • Cinema up 2.0%
  • Out of home down 1.0%
  • Internet up 0.5%

Not much there to encourage embattled media owners.


We’ve seen the feathers, we’ve heard the tweets, but so far no actual sighting of the first cuckoo of a new economic spring. Our consensus view at this point is for a seasonal uptick till Christmas, then slow simmering during 2010. Sorry.

This article is drawn from our presentation MEDIA 2010: A Sneak Peak At What Lies Ahead. If you’re a Media Counsel client, please talk to your TMC team about scheduling a time for us to present MEDIA 2010 to you and your colleagues.

National Announces Broadcasting Policy

The NZ National Party has now announced its Broadcasting Policy.

The most significant ingredients:

1. State ownership of Television New Zealand will continue, as will financial support for Maori Television, Radio New Zealand, National Pacific Radio Trust, and Access Radio.

2. The “TVNZ charter funding” will become contestable through NZ on Air – in other words, available to other free-to-air broadcasters (as well as TVNZ) on a competitive basis.

3. National intends to switch off analogue by 2015, up to ten years sooner than Labour. The final date will be confirmed once 75% of households have digital, or 2012, whichever occurs first.

4. Funding for the Freeview platform will continue, but public accountability will be demanded for the $79 million of direct funding allocated to TVNZ6 & TVNZ7.

5. National says it will insist on regular publication of rating/audience/household penetration data for any broadcasting entity receiving state funding. In other words, we’ll finally know the ratings performance of National Radio and the Concert Programme (and Maori Television). 

6. The party is also calling for transparent processes for radio frequency allocation and renewal that “create fair competition and take into account the range of community and broadcaster interests”.

TVNZ In Charter Funding Row

TVNZ is under fire for planning to use monies granted to it from the Crown under the TVNZ Charter to contribute towards the “absolutely enormous” production costs of broadcasting the Beijing Olympics.


Is it a fair criticism of TVNZ? Let’s review the TVNZ Charter.


The Charter states that TVNZ will:

(i) feature programming across all genres that informs, entertains, and educates New Zealand audiences; [arguably the Olympics could be included in this criterion]

(ii) strive always to set and maintain the highest standards of programme quality and editorial integrity; [agreed, although somewhat irrelevant]

(iii) provide shared experiences that contribute to a sense of citizenship and national identity; [in the sense that sports prowess reflects citizenship and national identity, yes]

(iv) ensure in its programmes and programme planning the participation of Maori and the presence of a significant Maori voice; [not really]

(v) feature programming that serves the varied interests and informational needs and age groups within New Zealand society, including tastes and interests not generally catered for by other national television broadcasters; [no, other broadcasters would be keen to carry the Olympics]

(vi) maintain a balance between programmes of general appeal and programmes of interest to smaller audiences; [arguable]

(vii) seek to extend the range of ideas and experiences available to New Zealanders; [no]

(viii) play a leading role in New Zealand television by setting standards of programme quality and encouraging creative risk-taking and experiment; [definitely not]

(ix) play a leading role in New Zealand television by complying with free-to-air codes of broadcasting practice, in particular any code with provisions on violence; [not relevant]

(x) support and promote the talents and creative resources of New Zealanders and of the independent New Zealand film and television industry. [absolutely not]


On balance then, sorry, but the Olympics just don’t stack up as a worthy recipient for Charter Funding.