TV3 has pleaded not guilty to charges regarding an alleged breach of the Broadcasting Act when commercials were aired on three Sunday mornings during the Rugby World Cup.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage filed the proceedings because the Act stipulates that advertising should not be played between 6am and midday on Sundays and that the network was therefore in breach.

TV3 has entered a not guilty plea by letter and the case has been adjourned until March.

Yesterday we were given a sneak peak at NZ on Screen – a brand new website expected to launch in July. The government-funded site will showcase NZ on Air content from over the years, with an expected 7,500 hours of it to be streamed, for free, online.

The site will cover NZ on Screen TV shows, films and music videos and will include IMBD-like information on each title, along with director interviews, stories from the cast and crew and more.

This is a fantastic (and huge!) undertaking and one which will make NZ on Air content much more accessible to the public.

It is hoped that the streaming videos will be embeddable in other sites (such as YouTube allows). It is planned that the videos will be available to overseas visitors, not just New Zealanders.

More details to follow.

From Monday February 18th at 9:30pm, join the US version of The Office on C4. They’ll be starting with Season 2, Episode 9 and going on from there.

You can already purchase seasons 2 and 3 on DVD. Meanwhile in the US, Season 4 of the show has been stalled midway, due to the writers’ strike.

The long-running hit reality show Survivor has been renewed by US network CBS who has ordered a 17th and 18th installment of the series hosted by Jeff Probst who will also return.

The series’ 16th edition, Survivor: Micronesia, premieres in the US next week while casting for the 17th season is already under way.

Anyone unfortunate enough to pick up the Sunday Star Times this week would have seen Tim Hume’s assault on Prime’s homegrown comedy series Welcome to Paradise. While the author could easily have written a paragraph about how bad the show was, they were somehow given a full page to spout their whiny discourse.

Those who have seen the comedy series will no doubt vouch for it as not being one of New Zealand’s proudest moments in television but berating the show further does nothing to change the situation. The fact remains: those involved know what the general consensus was towards the show and repeatedly telling them isn’t going to change history. In fact, stand-up Josh Thomson is even quoted as acknowledging the flaws in Paradise but that he doesn’t need to be reminded of them.

Out of the entire piece, something that is more interesting is NZ On Air’s decision not to fund a second series. The numbers had a respectable average of 60,000 viewers (compared to the Flight of the Conchords which aired immediately after with an average of 83,000) and yet Jane Wrightson, Chief Executive of NZ On Air says “The show was panned, by critics and by the public and on the internet. There was a groundswell of dissatisfaction about it. We want shows that attract a positive response.”

On the other side of the equation, Prime’s channel manager Karen Bieleski admits that the show, while not perfect, was a success. And even more importantly, they wanted a second season – something they don’t have to do, but wanted to do.

Certainly, Paradise had been a success in pulling such viewers to Prime, drawing an 11% audience share of its target demographic of males aged 18-39 and outrating some of the network’s foreign sitcoms.

It seems to me that while NZ On Air is happy to throw money at shows that will air in obscure hours, it isn’t happy to put money into a second season of a series that had a reasonable timeslot and “respectable” audiences.

I am growing incredibly tired of the complaining in this country. It seems that anyone who steps up to try and be successful has to put up with the rest of the country trying to put them back in their place.

Sure, Paradise wasn’t the world’s best comedy but at least someone had the courage to put their balls on the line and have a go. Even though they probably knew no matter what they did, someone would be there trying to make themselves feel better by ripping it to shreds.

It is unfortunate that despite a network actually wanting to commission a second season, the funding body won’t come to the party even though the numbers were in the frame. And here I was thinking it was all about being commercial.

I’m sure there have been less worthy projects that NZ On Air have thrown money at. Perhaps second time around, lessons would have been learned, changes made, storylines improved and audiences increased. I guess we’ll never know.

The shoes are on, the practice rooms are booked, and eight New Zealand celebrities are about to embark on a steep learning curve, as the countdown to the 2008 series of Dancing With The Stars begins.

The celebrities’ dance partners are now confirmed: Tina Cross will dance with series two winner Aaron Gilmore; Peter Urlich is partnered with blonde bombshell Hayley Holt; Miriama Smith with series three runner-up Jonny Williams; Martin Devlin with Lauren de Boeck; Geeling Ng with series two runner-up Brian Jones; Cory Hutchings with New Zealand 10 dance champion Rebecca Nicholson; Monty Betham with series one runner-up Nerida Jantti; and Temepara George with series three winner Stefano Olivieri.

The couples will start dance rehearsals in the coming week, in anticipation of the series starting on TV ONE in late February.

Critiquing their ability will be judges Brendan Cole, Craig Revel-Horwood and Alison Leonard. This year the fourth seat will be filled by actor and dancer Paul Mercurio, who was on the judging panel in series one and two. He missed out on series three, as his judging duties on the Australian version of the show precluded his participation in the New Zealand series.

The series will once again be hosted by Jason Gunn and Candy Lane.

Dancing With The Stars producer Debra Kelleher says: “I am very excited as this series’ cast has so much potential. This could be the best dance competition yet. It’s fantastic that we have such an international line-up of judges, including Brendan Cole and Craig Revel-Horwood, plus the charming Paul Mecurio returns. Series four will be bigger and better than ever. New Zealand, get ready to dance!”

Dancing With The Stars is the smash-hit BBC format that has now been seen in more than 30 countries.

We’re excited abut three hot new local TV shows are coming soon to our screens. Yes, we dared to say hot.

We’re going to give these shows a fair shot, rather than pulling them to pieces before they air (as we’ve already heard by a well-known media personality).

In our travels, we discovered just how different the Kiwi psyche is towards locally grown TV shows to that of Australia, the US and UK. Here the common mentality is: “Oh, it’s Kiwi. It is going to be crap.” If the show is successful, the saying becomes: “Surprisingly, it’s actually not that bad and not the usual cringe-worthy local show”. In Australia, US and UK, the mentality is: “It’s locally made so it’s going to be great!” If the show bombs, they’ll say, “Surprisingly, it didn’t live up to the usual quality”.

We want to support locally made shows in particular in 2008. Take a look at Canada: a much bigger country but according to one writer we met there, there really isn’t a local TV culture – apart from the odd show like Corner Gas or Little Mosque on the Prairie. They don’t even have a local weeknight soap! Canadian shows in general are disguised to look as much like American ones as possible (in the hope of greater revenues). We have much to celebrate in our local culture, without trying to be like American, US or UK imports.

So, without further ado, we’re really looking forward to see what these shows will offer us in 2008…

Burying Brian – TV ONE – Drama – Eyeworks

Jodie’s life is turned upside down after she loudly drunkenly declares to her friends in a bar that she wishes her husband, Brian, would drop dead – and then returns home to find that her wish has been granted.

In a panic, she realises that her husband’s accidental death will now look anything but – so she enlists her friends’ help to remove his body and bury it in an empty field, thus removing all evidence of his death. After concocting a story that Brian has run away with his mistress, Jodie initially thinks she’s got away with the cover-up, but things soon start to unravel – beginning with the revelation that the field Brian is buried in is being dug up for housing redevelopment.

Stars: Shane Cortese, Rebecca Hobbs, Jodie Dorday, Ingrid Park, Carrie McLaughlin, Robbie Magasiva and Ian Mune.

Diplomatic Immunity – TV2 – Comedy – James Griffin – South Pacific Pictures

A comedy series starring Craig Parker about a fallen diplomatic Foreign Affairs high-flier who ends up baby-sitting the morally bankrupt (but for a good cause) staff of the embassy of The Most Royal Kingdom of Fe’ausi.

His attempts to teach them right from wrong are more than countered by their attempts to get him to remove the stick from his butt and see the world in a more ‘relaxed’ fashion.

Leighton Mills had it all going on. He was the blue-eyed boy of Foreign Affairs. Handsome, charming and ambitious, Leighton was a man on his way up.

Then came the incident with the too many glasses of champagne at the civic reception; the stunningly beautiful and very up for it junior British Royal; the back seat of the ministerial limo outside Government House and the paparazzi photographer….

And now Leighton Mills finds himself landed with a new posting – as diplomatic attaché (read: babysitter) to the non-descript villa that is the Auckland embassy of The Most Royal Kingdom of Fe’ausi. This is as far backwards as one’s man career can go.

Inside this house, lying in wait for Leighton, is Jonah, the Ambassador; a whale of a man, with a huge personality to go along with his huge body. He is charming and effusive; welcoming and generous; cunning and amoral; devious and manipulative – all for the good of his King and his people, of course.

The world Leighton has entered is one where the normal rules of society do not apply; where his usual uptight palagi attitude comes smacking up against a world of everything he regards as wrong. And the biggest shark in this ocean of dodgy dealings is Jonah; the mastermind of every ethically dodgy scam that drives Leighton insane with frustration. He is the ringmaster of this circus; he is Teflon-coated and bulletproof, impervious to Leighton’s efforts to impose palagi morality upon his fiefdom.

But Jonah has an Achilles heel: Leilani – his beautiful, headstrong daughter. She is both the love of Jonah’s life and the heavy burden he must carry upon his broad shoulders. Leilani has been banned from The Most Royal Kingdom of Fe’ausi, sent to New Zealand for her crazy leadership of the pro-democracy/anti-monarchy stirrers. She’s Jonah’s problem now.

Leighton, meanwhile, takes one look at Leilani and finds a reason to stay in this upside-down world. He finds a reason to live. And she becomes his problem too.

Leilani takes a look at Leighton and likes what she sees – an ally in her war against her father and all the evil he stands for. Also, he’s quite cute – but if he wants her, then he’s going to have to work for it.

Diplomatic Immunity a big, bold, brassy, sexy, politically incorrect comedy series about love and manipulation; about the battle of two men – father and suitor – for the heart and soul of one very smart young woman.

Created by James Griffin (Outrageous Fortune, Serial Killers) and produced by South Pacific Pictures, Diplomatic Immunity is a 13 x ½ hour comedy series and will go into pre-production in February 2008 with production set to run from March to May 2008.

Scriptwriters include: James Griffin, Dave Armstrong, Joss King and Tim Balme.

Wayne Anderson: The Glory Days – PRIME – Mockmentary – ButoBase

While not strictly new, the show focuses on Wayne starting a radio station called “Radio Classy” and his tour of Japan where he meets some strange fans. Seven half-hour episodes will be made.

A documentary paying tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary will screen on TV ONE on Tuesday 22 January, at 7.30pm, in addition to full, LIVE and advertising-free coverage of his state funeral earlier in the day.

Earlier in the day, TV ONE will present coverage of Sir Edmund Hillary’s State Funeral.

At 6.30am, Paul Henry and Pippa Wetzell will host an extended edition of Breakfast including live coverage of the lead-in to the state funeral of Sir Edmund Hillary in Auckland.

At 10am will be full, LIVE, and advertising-free coverage of Sir Edmund Hillary’s State Funeral, live from St Mary’s Church in Auckland.

Remembering Ed – A Tribute To Sir Edmund Hillary is co-produced, directed and presented by cartoonist and close friend to Sir Edmund Hillary, Tom Scott.

Filmed in New Zealand and abroad, the documentary combines archive footage and contemporary interviews to paint a picture of Sir Edmund Hillary’s life after summiting Mt Everest and the legacy he has left behind.

Watch the 2008 Golden Globes live now on Sky News.

With the broadcast of the 2008 Golden Globes cancelled, the Hollywood Foreign Press announce the winners of their awards via a media conference LIVE from Los Angeles.

TVNZ has announced the presenting team for the ONE News content that will screen on TVNZ 7, the company’s second digital channel, which launches on the Freeview platform on 30 March, 2008.

TVNZ 7 will be a factual channel, broadcasting news programmes, documentaries (both new and historical), and programmes which debate and analyse current events.

The new channel will have around 30% news content, produced out of TVNZ’s Auckland newsroom. Ten-minute ONE News bulletins will be broadcast every hour, on the hour, from 6am until 11pm. The breakfast zone will be dedicated to news, with rolling, updated ten-minute bulletins broadcast continuously between 6am and 9am.

TVNZ 7’s flagship news programme will be a non-commercial hour which will screen nightly at 8pm. The evening news hour will be co-anchored by ONE News Tonight host Greg Boyed and Geraline Knox, a lawyer and broadcaster who presented news bulletins on Malaysia’s news channel, NTV-7.

A team of dedicated producer/presenters will anchor the ONE News bulletins that run throughout the day. The new team brings together extensive local and international news experience, and includes Fiona Anderson, Ben Christie, Jenny-May Coffin, Rochelle Gillespie, Tiffany Hardy, Sandra Kailahi, Glen Larmer, Phil McGrath, and Sonia Madigan.

TVNZ Head of News and Current Affairs, Anthony Flannery said that he was delighted by the breadth and depth of the TVNZ 7 team.

“ONE News on TVNZ 7 is a further extension of our commitment to providing the very best news and current affairs to New Zealanders, anytime and anywhere,” he said. “As New Zealand’s dedicated free-to-air factual channel, TVNZ 7 will be a place where Kiwis go for information, discussion and analysis of the issues that are important to them.

“This team ensures they will find the very best news content, continually updated on the channel.”