Media Matters: Rants & ratings

Campbell Gibson and Nick Grant talk about the inner workings of NZ's media industrial complex on NBR Radio MyNBR Radio.

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In this instalment of Media Matters, NBR Radio’s Jason Walls chats with Campbell Gibson and Nick Grant about the inner workings of New Zealand’s media industrial complex.

Mr Gibson begins by confessing he’s been keeping an eye on Scout – the gossip website that’s a joint-venture between MediaWorks and Rachel Glucina – as something of a public service (he looks at it so you don’t have to). During his trawling this week, a piece trumpeting the fact that TV3’s The Block out-rated the debut episode of TV One’s My Kitchen Rules jumped out at him.

He quotes the opening line of the item, which claims that, as a result of being out-rated by TV3’s show, “the knives will be out in the TVNZ programming department today,” prompting Mr Grant to butt in with a lengthy rant about the sheer silliness of Scout’s statement.

To think someone would lose their job because the show they’d programmed got a 22.7 share compared to TV3’s 23.5 for one episode is absurd, he argues.

Television is a long game, Mr Grant says, because it takes time to develop audience habits, although it seems someone at MediaWorks isn’t familiar with this reality of the business, given the way current affairs show 3D has had its slot shifted twice this year, with predictably catastrophic results (its relaunch two weeks ago at its new time of 9.30pm Monday attracted an audience of just 37,920, having generally been watched by almost 200,000 viewers in its previous 6.30pm Sunday slot).

Mr Gibson manages to wrestle the conversation back on course, quoting TVNZ’s withering response to the Scout story – “Spinning ratings data to support your own vested interest is a step up from stalking but hardly what you’d call quality journalism” – before Mr Grant boorishly hijacks proceedings once again to bang on about the pretty poor ratings for most of MediaWorks’ other reality shows, most particularly the recently ended Masterchef NZ.

One relative bright spot for MediaWorks, however, is the improving performance of radio-TV-online mash-up Paul Henry, notes Mr Gibson. Although it hasn’t managed to increase the number of people watching television in the morning, it appears to be gaining viewers from TVNZ’s Breakfast. More importantly, it’s picking up more listeners for RadioLIVE, although some are sceptical about how significant these improvements really are.

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