Our trip to TVNZ yesterday

Yesterday a group of us who do various things online were invited to TVNZ for a meeting (up in their top floor board room, no less!) about what TVNZ are looking to for the future as well as getting our feedback on it. Regan and I were really impressed as the openness of their talks in the meeting, and their willingness to share ideas and look to making TVNZ in the future better than its ever been.

We also were given a tour of the newsroom and studios. The TVNZ building is deceptively much larger than you might imagine, with all the studios deep in an underground rabbit warren.

The newsroom itself was massive, with so many desks, TV screens, computers and newspapers everywhere. People were friendly as we wandered through the open plan area (you see this in the background of the One News set). There’s an area where they film the news updates during the day too.

Next stop was the news studio itself, which has the Breakfast/Close Up set opposite. We were there as they were switching over from Breakfast to Close Up. The ceiling is covered in lights and wires and all sorts of stuff, hanging from a really high ceiling. The news desk looked rather plain and in fact all the colours in the studio looked so dull compared to how they look on TV. Below the desk are computers and behind the desk is a printer for breaking news stories to come through on. There’s a phone and a container full of pens and highlighters out the back of the desk too.

The cameras are all operated by robots from some guys sitting in the corner of the studio.

Over to the side is the weather area, of course complete with green screen behind it. Everything looks smaller on set than on TV.

We also saw the rooms people wait in before being interviewed on Close Up or Breakfast – and I remembered back to sitting in there myself before a Breakfast interview once. The room is reasonably fancy, with freshly cut flowers, latest magazines and newspapers, nice couches, TV screens everywhere and plenty of water for those dry mouths.

Saw the editing suite out back, very dark, lots of screens and buttons and newspapers (again) everywhere. Looked like it could be a pretty stressful room to be in at times.

The door into the studio is massive – and SO thick. Possibly the thickest/heaviest door I’ve seen in my life. On the wall next to it is a big red/orange light warning you not to go in if filming is in progress.

We also got a glimpse of the new EPG for Freeview being tested out on a large screen. Looked like it needed some pretty colours added as it seemed to all be grey but will be a handy feature.

We went through to the interactive area where there were a tonne of desks, more computers and people working hard on ondemand which has been only a four month project so far. Pretty impressive timeline I think for what I saw. Of course, pretty much all the details you need to know about ondemand have been covered nicely by Tui!!

I was impressed by the clean design, and the hard work which has gone into making this easy for everyone to use. Yes, there’s some things to be worked on such as getting it going for Mac users and the issue of people who don’t have credit cards, but sounds like they will address both of those issues in the reasonably near future. There sounds like a long list of additional features which will be added to the site over time too. I saw clips like Radio with Pictures, Top Town and Shortland Street on there. I believe they want to launch with >100 shows with 5-10 episodes on there but the list will grow dramatically over time. There were lots of free clips too, with a short ad at the start.

TV One and One News will be changing in April/May – with a major rebranding of the channel. Looks like One News will be available for download, cellphone, iPod, XBox etc soon too.

I had a great time and enjoyed meeting TVNZ and hearing their thoughts for the future – they want to see their TVNZ.co.nz (including ondemand) as a “third” channel.

We’re hoping to meet with them again later this year, so if you think of things we should bring up about what they could do better, please let us know!

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About the author

Co-founder of Throng. Favourite TV shows recently: Homeland and The Newsroom.
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