Toi Iti, Media TakeThe third incarnation of Media7 will debut on Maori Television on July 1. Disappointingly, the state funded series has once again been scheduled after 10pm.

Māori Television’s new current affairs show, MEDIA TAKE (formerly Media3) will answer these questions and a lot more every Tuesday after 10pm from July 1 and repeated on Thursdays at 10.30pm.

Actor and broadcaster Toi Iti, known for his irreverent but penetrating satire, joins Russell Brown to lift the lid and spill the beans on the people who pull the strings of public opinion. Continue reading »

In her not so subtle way, Julie Christie has said what most of us already knew, that TVNZ7 could have been saved – with some clever integration.  Being clever is a trait that left that building long before Rick Ellis did.

Christie believes that the channel could have used TVNZ’s local programming that typically aired in poor time slots on TV One and TV2, in primetime on TVNZ7.

Christie asks, “What are your choices at 7pm? It’s current affairs or Shortland St. What would you rather have?” The smart arse may reply The Crowd Goes Wild, but you get her point.  TVNZ have a vast catalogue of content and a there is a good amount of it that is funded by the taxpayer already but is barely seen due to being tucked away late in the evening.  It would make absolute sense to have that content available elsewhere at a more reasonable hour but there are commercial realities at stake.

Interestingly, Media7 has now been picked up by TV3 and become Media3 while there seems to be a fairly good chance that Backbenches will be heading to Prime.  Can anyone name a show from TVNZ7 that TVNZ are picking up?


Image from Media7 Facebook page.

Episode 22 series 8

Since Media7 started in April 2008 we have delivered 207 shows covering a huge range of media related topics.

We have explored issues and arguments in the newspaper, radio, television and film industries… and in addition have ranged over the diverse and eclectic controversies that exist in the world of comic books, video gaming, blogs, science and technological writing and reporting, Maori and Pacific affairs, foreign coverage on the UK, USA, Middle East and Afghanistan, national and local politics, the shortcomings of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, journalism and media training, comedy, filthy language on the media, censorship, the BSA, the ASA, SAPAD, the NX Film Commission, the Law Reform Commission recommendations on media law etc. etc. Continue reading »

Episode 21 series 8

The success of our women’s magazines depends on their ability to speak to the hopes, fears, desires and ambitions of kiwi women.

In New Zealand the market is crowded and fiercely competitive.

NZ Women’s Weekly which celebrates 80 years of publication this week, leads a bunch of titles, which constantly seek to gazumph each other with features detailing the hatches, matches, despatches, misdemeanours and peccadilloes of local and international celebrities.

The other potent driver of magazine sales is the guilt and envy women are encouraged to feel on a range of issues from body shape and size to job satisfaction, pay parity and equality of opportunity at work. Continue reading »

Media7, 9:05pm, TVNZ7

Radio New Zealand’s Media Watch and TVNZ7’s Media7 are two intelligent shows which I enjoy following. This week on Media7they are covering celebrity endorsements, in particular Kevin Milne’s new ad campaign with Carpet Mill: Continue reading »

9:10pm Thursday, November 19 on TVNZ 7

Media7 travels to Wellington to cover the annual conference of the NZ Screen Production and Development Association.

The film and television industry is a major contributor to the New Zealand economy and faces many challenges with the economic recession and massive technological change.

Russell Brown will be talking about the road ahead with some of New Zealand’s leading film and television producers, and also interviewing some of the luminary overseas guests who are attending this most important get-together of industry players.

Catching up on tonights Media7 and was very pleased to see a feature on Throng TV from the traditional media. I feel that Throng came out very well, and I’m quite sure that Russell and the team are fans of your work.

For any of you with Freeview, Media7 is repeated seveal times over the next 7 days on TVNZ7 so make sure you catch it, and better yet watch Throng TV online as wll.

Comedy Rules.

Last week on Media 7 we did a show on NZ comedy.

In it we touched on FOTC- -because it is impossible to talk about
comedy in NZ without doing so – their mega success has changed the game.

Their cool, cult, high-production-value kooky comedy that explores awkwardness and the spaces around relationships has left many wondering why we can’t make that kind of thing here on NZ TV.

Many have moaned that TVNZ missed the comedy boat – -or have used the fact that FOTC had to go overseas as evidence that TVNZ are clueless.
It is a matter of legend that TVNZ turned them down.

Well, on the show we were able to go behind this legend.

It turns out it is kinda true – and kinda not.

TVNZ were keen. They asked the FOTC fellows to come up with a project.
As with most NZ produced stuff they would then take the idea to NZ on Air to get funding.

I’m not sure everyone knows how NZ on Air funding works – but here is a basic guide.

The Government has decided it is a good thing to get NZ content on screen. The basic market model won’t produce much of this content because it is nearly always cheaper to buy in an international show, regardless of how much it cost them to make in the first place, than it is to try to make something decent here.

TV costs heaps. Even some of the most successful local shows – like Outrageous Fortune –still attract NZ on Air funding to make them. So even very popular shows are sometimes still not economically possible if left to compete against international fare.

Now, how the funding is allocated is through a relationship between the networks, independent producers and NZ on Air.

A typical way a show is developed may work like this:
A producer goes to a network to try to get a broadcast commitment for a show idea they have. This means that if the show gets made then the network will put it on the telly on their channel.

They then together go to NZ on Air and ask for money.
If NZ on Air like the look of the project and think it ticks one of
the boxes they have decided need ticking, then they fund it.

These boxes change depending on the season and fashion. NZ on Air will actually put a call out for things they are looking for at certain times – like gay themed tv or teenager fare, serious docos or drama.

Soooooo – -in short – for something to get made there are a number of parties who all have to be interested.

And one other important point: because the pot of money available is limited each spending decision impacts on every other decision. For example they aren’t going to give funding for three comedy productions to TVNZ and nothing to TV3 if they can help it – they like to spread it round a bit.
There is also the basic opportunity cost – if they fund one thing then there will be no money to fund another thing.

Right – so this is important because when TVNZ asked the FOTC to come up with something they came back with an idea that was very different to what they ended up successfully making in New York.

It was a concept called something like ‘Folk the World’ – and it was like a history of music where the FOTC boys were inserted into each period.

It was going to need a lot of CGI work – and was going to be an
expensive undertaking. $300,000 for 90 minutes. Which is quite a lot in NZ for a one-off TV special. Quite a lot but not unheard of.

TVNZ maintain that they really liked the idea. But that it was going to be too much in one hit to get the idea past NZ on Air.

I can’t tell you if they ever put it to NZ on Air to check – -the
producer who was developing the idea with FOTC says that the NZ on Air people seemed keen and it wasn’t taken to them to even check– but there are those other factors at play – maybe
TVNZ thought that if they took this project to them then they wouldn’t get other projects over the line – -or maybe they thought there was something else that they wanted to spend that chunk of money on – going back to the opportunity cost idea.

But what we do know is that it wasn’t a simple case of TVNZ turning them down and then they took the same idea overseas and look –now they are massive stars and how dumb is NZ.

TVNZ was never in a position to make anything that would have
been anything near as cool as what did get made.

This is for a bunch of reasons:

For one – -budgets. If they were stressing about 300,000 then the amazing set design, art direction, and crew who worked on FOTC in America would never have made it. I mean they had Michel Gondry directing episodes!.
Two – it is in Amercia. The idea is that they are Kiwis in NY. Can’t do that in Auckland.

And Three – -interference.
At the HBO they make lots of different kinds of shows. FOTC is very culty. It actually doesn’t rate very well here. Moon TV rates better.
If TVNZ were to use a great big chunk of their available money supply on a project they would probably, understandably, want it to appeal to the greatest number of people. Imagine if they had done this to FOTC– there would be mainstream comics in there, fart jokes, etc – it would be a mess – they’d get writers in who worked on every other show and it would be like every other show.

This would have meant that had TVNZ gone and done it it probably would have sucked.

So in many ways – TVNZ actually did everyone a favour by not trying to make this show.

We talked to lots of comedians to try to find out what it does take to make good comedy – and the answer we found is a mixture of trust and freedom.

We need to make more cheap comedy – so we can try more things that don’t need to appeal to everyone. When only making a few things programmers will need them to appeal to everyone from Nana to Grandson. The whole of our telly will look like Full House if we do this.

So we need to make more risky little productions – -like Wayne Anderson or the Night at The Classic show in production now.

And we need to leave the comics to it. Often networks interfere and have a say in what jokes are ok and which aren’t. Network people don’t know and have to stay out of this. They need to trust comics. Too many cooks and all that. As a number of comics said – they are the ones out every night doing material in front of crowds – -they know what works and what doesn’t.

Another thing to emerge was the lack of training and development grounds NZ has. In the UK for example they have a lot of radio comedy being made. The BBC develops people by giving them first a shot on radio – then TV. In fact – -the FOTC first made a great BBC series before the HBO series. There aren’t these outlets in NZ.

I spoke to Jon Plowman when he was last here. He was the head of BBC Comedy for many years – and oversaw everything from The Vicar of Dibley to Little Britain. He said that the recipe for success is that he is able to make enough comedy, and enough failures to have a few successes.
Wise words. In NZ if we have a failure we let it poison the future – -like Melody Rules. We still talk about it and let it stop us from attempting stuff because we say – -‘we don’t want another Melody Rules’. Well, maybe we need a few more of them, and a few more Welcome To Paradises – -just so we can get over them and make better stuff.

There is some hope at the moment. With the digital channels there is real room for more comedy. They are doing a great job in getting quality special interest arts, books, politics, media and children’s programming (disclaimer: I work on a digital channel show, so I would say they are great…) but there isn’t much comedy – -that could be improved upon.
These channels are the natural home for edgy, less commercial, risky comedy.

So – we have a recipe – -more trust, more freedom and more attempts will hopefully make more hits.

And now, from here we can do two things. We can stop endlessly talking about FOTC as if we missed the boat and could have done anything except fuck it up be making it here – and also stop talking about Melody Rules. It was a step on the way, not the end point, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t much worse than some of the American stuff we happily wallpaper our screens with.

What do you reckon?

19 March at 9:30pm on TVNZ7

Tune in to Media7 on TVNZ 7 tonight at 9:10pm to see new broadcasting Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman face up to some of the industry’s most respected experts – media commentators and champions of public broadcasting Paul Norris, Brian Edwards and Peter Thompson.

Is this the end of public service broadcasting?

What exactly is quality programming?

Is the Minister’s policy any better than the Charter?

Appointment viewing for all those interested in the future of television.


Tonight at 9:10pm and encore screening at 12:10pm tomorrow


Alternatively Media7 will be available on TVNZondemand from tomorrow morning.