Qantas Awards triumph caps highly successful year for TVNZ

A revitalised TVNZ newsroom dominated the News and Current Affairs categories at tonight’s Qantas Film and Television Awards, and the network’s extensive local programming line-up was greatly rewarded within the General Television categories. TVNZ’s awards success rounds off a strong year on screen for the public broadcaster that saw significant ratings and revenue growth.

TVNZ won eight of the eleven News and Current Affairs awards including the coveted Qantas Best News (ONE News), Best News or Current Affairs Presenter (Mark Sainsbury), Best Current Affairs Series (Sunday), and Investigation of the Year (Mike Valintine and Hunter Wells).

TVNZ’s slew of General Television awards included Best Comedy Programme (Eating Media Lunch), Best Factual Series (The Big Picture), Best Format/Reality Series (Sensing Murder), Best Presenter Entertainment/Factual Programme (Jason Gunn), and Best Information/Lifestyle Programme (The Gravy), the first Qantas Award for new digital channel TVNZ 6.

TVNZ’s big year – the first stage of the public broadcaster’s turnaround plan – saw the launch of two digital channels, TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7, the ongoing development of its online platforms, and new mobile phone initiatives. Major milestones in the company’s ‘Inspiring on Every Screen’ strategy were achieved, most recently the hugely successful multi-platform coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games, the biggest event in New Zealand television history.

TVNZ’s awards success comes on the heels of last week’s announcement that the network has recorded a full year profit of $19.4 million, which represents a $14.3 million turnaround on the previous financial year. Audience growth across both TV ONE and TV2 was named as a major contributor to the strong financial result.

Dancing With The Stars, Shortland Street, and the Beijing 2008 Olympics were among the local programmes attracting exceptional ratings during the year. The extended coverage TV ONE provided of Sir Edmund Hillary’s funeral and subsequent UK commemoration service underlined TVNZ’s important role as New Zealand’s public broadcaster.

Flagship news bulletin ONE News at 6pm, recognised by the Qantas judges for Best News Reporting (Lisa Owen) and Best News Camera (Jared Mason), as well as the Best News trophy, also impressed the New Zealand public. ONE News enjoyed ten consecutive months of year-on-year audience growth as Kiwis turned back to TV ONE for their daily news.

TVNZ CEO, Rick Ellis, says the year’s success is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the talented staff across TVNZ, and at the company’s industry partners.

“It has been immensely satisfying over the past year to see New Zealanders turning back to TVNZ, and valuing their public broadcaster,” he said.

“To win awards, to be judged the very best by our peers in the industry, is a great achievement, but the best accolades come from the public, who are voting with their remotes, and tuning into TVNZ’s many screens in increasing numbers.

“TVNZ is New Zealand’s local content leader, and it is fantastic to see the excellence of our local programming recognised across such a wide range of genres and subjects, from the irreverent Eating Media Lunch and the hugely popular Sensing Murder, to top class arts programming like The Big Picture, and The Gravy, which I am sure is only the first of many award-winning programmes that will premiere on our digital channels.

Ellis said he was particularly proud of the achievements of TVNZ’s News and Current Affairs division.

“Over what has been at times a tough and demanding year, the newsroom has implemented a comprehensive strategy to consolidate our News leadership across all platforms, so that viewers can find what they need anytime and anywhere they choose.

“Tonight’s awards recognise the quality of the news service we deliver to New Zealanders, across our daily and weekly News and Current Affairs programmes.”

Best Current Affairs reporting for a daily programme was won by Close Up’s Robyn Janes and Steve Hopkins, while Hunter Wells and Mike Valintine won the prestigious TV Journalist of the Year award for their groundbreaking investigation into the murder of Katherine Sheffield. Their story ‘Confession’, which also won Investigation of the Year, screened on Sunday last November after TVNZ won an historic victory in the Supreme Court for the right to broadcast the programme.

Viewers have plenty to look forward to in the coming 12 months, including comprehensive coverage of Election 2008 by TVNZ’s leading News and Current Affairs journalists across different platforms. New local content includes two much anticipated drama series; Go Girls, from Gavin Strawhan and Outrageous Fortune co-creator Rachel Lang, and Diplomatic Immunity, written by Outrageous Fortune co-creator James Griffin.

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