Attended the launch tonight of TVNZ’s Heartland, its new entirely NZ content channel. Delivered on the Sky platform. Hmmm. TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis and Sky CEO John Fellett gave polite speeches about the mutual benefits etc but no doubt who is smiling the widest.
You have to acknowledge that it’s tough times and this bit of revenue from Sky may help keep TVNZ stay in the black and perhaps deliver a little more dividend to Dr Coleman. But there is still something fundamentally flawed with our state broadcaster providing a channel to the same compeptitor which TVNZ chairman Sir John Anderson complains about having an increasing dominance. More eyeballs on Heartland/Sky are fewer eyeballs on 1,2, 6 +7.
And this continues to erode Freeview which TVNZ wanted as a digital platform to compete with Sky. Last month’s Budget confirms no funding beyond next year for Freeview, or for channels 6 + 7. It all feels like the same sort of “whoa” moment that happened in the early 90s when TVNZ’s board, supported by Maurice Williamson as Minister - sold its 37 percent stake in Sky. A fundamentally short-sighted decision, driven by another set of short-term needs by a previous National government which had no strategic plan for TVNZ beyond selling it.
The launch of Heartland – which I pick will prove popular for Sky – took place the same days as we marked 50 years since television started in NZ.
I tuned into a bit of TVNZ’s 2-hour programme tonight, which turned out to be a celebrity quiz show. If you want a gruntier doco on 50 years of television – 30 of which was entirely TVNZ and its predecssors – you shall have to wait . And which channel is doing that doco? Sky-owned Prime!