Axe falls on Close Up
TVNZ is considering whether to axe Close Up, the state broadcaster says in a statement.
The current affairs show, which screens at 7pm, has been fronted by Mark Sainsbury since 2006, when Paul Holmes, presenter of its predecessor defected to Prime TV.
A decision will be made mid-October following a consultation period.
However, a statement from TVNZ Head of News and Current Affairs, Ross Dagan, which thanks Mr Sainsbury and the programme's 16 staff for their work over the years, has a ring of finality about it.
If it does decide to cull Close Up, TVNZ says "a new daily current affairs show with a distinctively different format would launch in the 7pm slot in the new year.
The statement provoked immeidate speculation that Paul Henry would return to the network. One of Mr Sainsbury's fill-in hosts, Mike Hosking, is also considered a contender.
Mr Dagan says the proposed closure of the show is a pro-active response to feedback that television viewers are looking for something fresh and quite different in early evening current affairs.
“Close Up remains the number one daily current affairs show by a substantial margin, but ratings for us and for our competitors in this important time slot have diminished over time. We’re committed to staying at the forefront of what New Zealanders want to see and we owe it to them and to ourselves to continually evolve and enhance television current affairs.
“We want to reinvent the early evening slot, to present the stories of the day in a way that is very different to what has gone before.”
Mr Dagan, who has a background in Australian broadcasting, joined TVNZ earlier this year.
His tenure has already coincided with one controversial decision. Weekly current affairs show Sunday chopped back to 30 minutes to accommodate New Zealand's Got Talent.
Today, media commentator Bill Ralston speculated that Sunday could be next in the gun.
Holding his own
Although out of favour with Mr Dagan, Close Up has more or less held its own since 2010, and last week it had double the 5+ audience share of its direct rival, TV3's Campbell Live. But in the key 25-54 demographic, Campbell Live has been gaining ground:
Click to enlarge. Source: Nielsen Television Audience Measurement.