"Someone please tell the govt' that nobody with a snout for the future cares
about TV anymore, let alone John Hawkesby." The Jitty Slitter. Editor in Chief, The Guz. Blueprints for the future. Get The Guz from http://spungo.com
More Postcards From Timor
HARD NEWS IS BACK!
- Russell Brown’s Hard News column is back today, this week the column concerns TVNZ, Waitangi machinations and the weather (The Full Text is attached at the end of the normal Scoop Today Bulletin...See Below)... See... HARD NEWS 3/2/00 - Eh oh! Tellytrubbies!  in the Headlines wire.
- Three men that made up the notorious “screw-driver” gang were caught last night by police and are due to appear in court today. The gang had been on the run for the last fortnight. See... "Screwdriver" Gang Busted  in the Headlines wire.
What Is Being Read In The News
- The (still anonymous in NZ) drug importing billionaire, hobbits, first light in Timor and Russian nukes rated highly on Scoop in January. This week the Wellington waterfront and hobbits topped the list and today comment on John Hawkesby ‘s payout is attracting your attention . For regular ratings bulletins see the News Monitor wire or the Miscellaneous News Monitor index. See…Scoop Ratings - January'sTop 30  - Scoop Ratings - This Week's Top 30  - Scoop Ratings - Today's Top 20  all in the News Monitor wire.
- In what is believed to be a world first, a California judge has granted a restraining order in a cyber-smearing case which could have a major impact on this practice on the Internet. John Howard reports. See... Cyber-smearing Outlawed In Californian Decision  in the Headlines wire.
Waterfront Debate – Scientific Polling Needed
- City council finance chair Chris Parkin is urging scientific opinion polling to test public feeling about the Wellington’s proposed waterfront development. Editor of City Voice Newspaper Simon Collins reports. See... Poll Urged To Test Waterfront Views  in the Headlines wire.
Scoop Link: Mayday2k Protests In New Zealand
- The global internet organised Mayday2k protest movement, a global action against capitalism, is now up and running in Godzone. See... New Zealand Mayday2k Listserve And Web Page  in the General wire.
AmericaOne Makes It 4
- Previously trailing in the race stakes, yankee crew AmericaOne has won race seven of the Louis Vuitton Cup finals with a commanding lead over Italian race team Prada of one minute and six seconds. Prada trailed the race early on after making a tactical blunder in the first leg.
Scoop Opinion: Hawkesby World Famous In NZ
- By what criteria does television pay its newsreaders? One criterion is star quality. Keith Rankin's weekly Thursday collumn. See... Rankin: John Hawkesby: World Famous in New Zealand  in the Headlines wire.
Jobs Lost As Dunedin Plant Sold
- The overseas sale of Coats Spencers' knitting yarn business with the loss of 141 permanent jobs in its Mosgiel plant will be a devastating blow to a region that is already under pressure, Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton said today. See... 141 More Jobs Lost Because Of Failed Policies  Dunedin’s two Labour MPs have also expressed their deep regret at the closure. See... Closure of Coats Spencer Crafts, Mosgiel  both in the Parliament wire.
- A Cabinet paper released today makes it clear all key Government agencies support the Government's direction for the public health sector, Health Minister Annette King says. See... Cabinet Paper on Health Sector Redesign  in the Parliament wire.
Cost Of Electricity Inquiry
- Head of the Ministerial Inquiry into electricity industry David Caygill will be paid $1500 per day, with it's total cost at over $1 million, the Minister of Energy says. See... Electricity Inquiry: budget  in the Parliament wire. The Minister of Energy announced a Ministerial Inquiry into the electricity industry this week after concern that National’s electricity reforms had led to increased prices for the consumer. See... Ministerial Inquiry into the Electricity Industry  .
Smear Inquiry Moved To Gisborne
- All public hearings of the Ministerial Inquiry into the under-reporting of cervical smear abnormalities in the Gisborne region will now be held in Gisborne rather than Auckland. See... Gisborne Inquiry Now in Gisborne  in the Parliament wire.
Select Committee Business
- For the weekly select committee business report form the Clerk of the House see... Weekly Select Committee Report  in the Parliament wire.
Exporting Kiwi Prison Expertise
- Hon Matt Robson announced from Dili today his intention to provide Department of Corrections Officers and legal experts to assist in the training of prisons staff and the judiciary in East Timor. See... New Zealand’s help needed to re-build East Timor  in the Parliament wire.
- Dr Jim Sprott, a leading cot-death researcher, is warning caregivers and baby-care professionals against relying on cot death prevention advice publicised by British paediatrician Dr Peter Fleming. Fleming has gone public saying that the practice of Mattress wrapping to protect babies from toxic substances is not necessary. See... Sprott Warns Against Cot Death Researcher's Advice  in the General wire.
Suppressed Timberlands Study Released
- Labour has released a report into the State Owned Enterprise Timberlands which assesses the environmental importance of its native forests ranking more than 90% as being of high or medium conservation value. It says National had “diligently tried to suppress” the report. ... See... Conservation Assessment of Timberlands  in the Parliament wire. Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says the vindicates a long-running Green campaign to end all native logging on public land. See... Report shows need for immediate end to logging  in the Parliament wire. Native Forest Action responds to the report in the General wire see... No Time To Lose In Ending Rimu Logging  .
New Principal Pay Rules
- The government is changing the rules governing primary school Principals' pay which it says encouraged principals to seek individual rather than collective contracts. See... Funding Available To All Primary School Principals  in the Parliament wire.
- The story of Waitangi Day, written by historian Dr Claudia Orange, is now on-line. See...History of Waitangi Day On NZHistory.net.nz  in the General wire.
- New techonology which allows mobile phones to be used as internet browers is being introduced into New Zealand by telecom company Ericsson. See... Ericsson Airs First Mobile Multimedia Technology.  Meanwhile, communications technology which uses the internet will halve the cost of calling Asia, announces telecommunications company CLEAR. See... CLEAR Announces New Toll Service  both in the Business wire
Kiwis Breeding Less
- The number of live births in New Zealand in the December 1999 year totalled 57,473, about 3,000 or 4 per cent fewer than the peak of 60,153 recorded nearly a decade earlier in 1990. See... Births And Deaths in 1999 - Statistics NZ  in the Business wire.
Grisly Timor Find
- 2 February -- A forensic team has exhumed 15 bodies and found the incomplete remains of five others at a gravesite in the East Timorese enclave of Oecusse in West Timor, a UN spokesman said today in New York. See... Fifteen Bodies Found Buried in East Timor Enclave  in the General wire.
Canning Board Will Cripple WINZ
- Minster of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey has crippled the ability of WINZ to provide adequate job opportunities, says ACT employment spokesman Dr Muriel Newman. See... Maharey Ruins Job Opportunities  . Her comments are in response to Minister of Social Services and Employment, Steve Maharey's axing of a WINZ Advisory Board which Chief Executive Christine Rankin set up. See... Board goes as Maharey sets new direction for WINZ  in the Parliament wire. The move has been welcomed by UNITE!, the community based union representing unemployed, casual and low paid workers. See... Union Delighted At Maharey Move To Axe Ideologues  in the Politics wire.
Unemployment At Lowest Level For Three Years
- Unemployment dropped to 6.3 per cent, according to Statistics New Zealand's Household Labour Force Survey, the official measure of unemployment. Maori and Pacific Island unemployment is also down significantly. See... Unemployment Rate Falls to 6.3 Per Cent  in the Business wire. The figures show that the previous Government’s policies were working and making a real difference for New Zealanders, says National. See... Job figures Show National Made A Difference  . Employment Minister Steve Maharey has welcomed the figures but says they are not low enough. See... Unemployed drop welcome but not good enough  . ACT agrees, see... Govt. must do better for long-term unemployed  both in the Parliament wire. Deutsche Bank analysts say the movements in the index are volatile and should not be seen as part of a trend. They predict the Reserve Bank will move to increase interest rates. See... Household Labour Force Survey - December Q 1999  in the Business wire.
 - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU0002/S00021.htm
 - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0002/S00039.htm
 - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0002/S00031.htm
 - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0002/S00034.htm
 - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU0002/S00024.htm
...........HARD NEWS FOLLOWS.........
HARD NEWS 3/2/00 - Eh oh! Tellytrubbies!
HARD NEWS is first broadcast in Auckland on 95bFM around 8.45am on Fridays and replayed around 4.30pm Friday and 10am Sunday on The Culture Bunker. You can listen to 95bFM live on the Internet. Point your web browser to http://www.95bfm.co.nz. You will need Real Audio 3.0 to be able to listen, plus a 28.8k modem. Currently New Zealand is 13 hours ahead of GMT.
HARD NEWS ON THE INTERNET appears at Scoop, at http://scoop.co.nz/ , at Akiko at http://nz.com (which is the home of the Hard News mailing list) and is posted to local newsgroups.
GOOD DAY MEDIAPHILES ... and now is the summer of our discontent. No, it's not that we're really feeling dark in out hearts - give or take a Titewhai or two, we seem fairly happy in ourselves. But - as the organic butcher said to me yesterday - what the hell happened to our summer?
I can't remember whether it's a La Nina or an El Nino and I don't really care - can't we just have weather like we used to when I was a kid? Golden?
But if the weather for most of us has been indifferent, it's been metaphorically miserable over Nelson Street. They've been staring glumly out the rain-streaked windows of the boardroom, wondering how the hell this could all have happened.
John Hawkesby, the newsreader who now plays tennis and hosts things, stands to collect nearly $6 million as a settlement over his unfortunate departure after spending precisely 24 grim days of a six-year contract reading the news on One.
It is, basically, a monumental cock-up - one lent extra legs by the former Prime Minister's foot-in-mouth efforts on that same channel. Jenny Shipley, we now know, really did just make it up when she burped up the information on Crossfire that Hawkesby was getting $1 million. It was much worse than that.
Hawkesby, an unemployed TV presenter at the time, signed a six-year contract paying him $700,000 a year - a figure that some New Zealanders struggle to make in their whole working lives. There didn't appear to be a termination clause.
Hawkesby, as we now know, was a disaster. So whose fault was it? TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis brought a ton of scorn down on himself by pointing the finger at Neil Roberts. He was, everybody said, blaming the dead guy. But let's be honest - it was Roberts who first started sniffing after Hawkesby, publicly declaring after Hawkesby spat the dummy at TV3 that lunch would be in order.
But these things always go north. Ellis was not only in charge when the deal was done, Roberts was resting in peace. And in the end, the buck stops with the TVNZ board. One or two of them ought to be a bit afraid.
But this is almost beside the point. Which is that a public broadcaster should not have looked to replace one old trooper with another. If there's anything a public broadcaster ought to do, it's earn market share by developing talent, not buying it.
The archetypal public broadcaster, the BBC, has been losing its stars over the past few years. One by one, they've departed for vast salaries with one of the private terrestrial channels, or with Rupert Murdoch's Sky television.
So the BBC, rather than licking its wounds, has embarked on a nationwide search for new talent. If it works, maybe Murdoch will eventually buy that talent too, in which case it's time to develop some more. Perceptive listeners will deduce that this sounds a bit like the bFM model - the difference being that, round here, the cheques aren't quite as large. Even for Graeme Hill.
Anyway, if they were going to get rid of dear old Richard, they ought to have had a better plan than just sticking Hawkesby in front of a camera and carrying on like nothing had happened.
The irony is that the ratings apocalypse that took place when a familiar face was changed is arguably proof that personalities do matter a lot to the viewing public. The TV One audience legged it not on the standard of reporting or editorial judgement, but because it didn't like what they'd done to that poor Richard Long. In that sense, it's our fault.
Yet none of this is simple. Richard Long, for example, is technically a far better reader of the news than Carol Hirschfeld. But the chemistry with John Campbell that makes Hirsch work might never have happened with the also very technically-able Hawkesby, particularly given that, stay or go, he was in the middle of a very severe hissy fit about having to share the limelight. It was basically better for TV3 to lose him - especially in the light of subsequent events.
The problem with TVNZ is that it is a sausage factory, especially in news and current affairs. Everybody's been through the TVNZ charm school - the "quirky" ones included. But it's the onscreen personalities who haven't been groomed - Holmes, McCormick and Havoc and News, who actually nail it.
The culture is embodied also in the way the new is done. It was TVNZ, remember, which introduced to news bulletins such ghastly redundancies as the phrase "our top story" - oh, that'll be why it's on first, then.
A few years ago I wound up at a dinner table with a senior TVNZ executive who solemnly told me that being the market leader wasn't easy. It brought challenges of its own, he said. Maybe they need to get over it.
The top brass have certainly been taken down a peg or two by Helen Clark's announcement that the government will not presently approve TVNZ's Big Plan for a $217 million joint venture into digital TV with the British company NTL. But if this is some punishment for the Hawkesby debacle - and TV3 so gleefully rolled the two together in its reporting this week - or a sign that the government's got the pip, then it's wrong.
Former SOE minister Tony Ryall rushed to the press to declare that Labour had consigned the public broadcaster to a backwater by knocking back the joint venture. Ryall appears to be as shameless in Opposition as he was in government. One doesn't generally like to report table talk, but I had the questionable fortune of being sat next to Ryall at lunch last year - and his enthusiasm for the plan was nowhere in evidence then. He seemed very dubious indeed.
By the same token, a new government has every right to baulk at approving a plan for the biggest single investment in New Zealand broadcasting history in its second month in office. With National's wilful underfunding of Te Papa already threatening to mess up Clark's treasured arts and culture plans, she hardly wants the same thing to happen in broadcasting.
There is a policy vacuum around public television right now. But if Cabinet is going to fill that vacuum, it better not muck about. And anyone who believes TVNZ can just make the world stand still and potter along making programmes about worthy topics is wrong, wrong, wrong.
For all its glitz and cheese and messy management, TVNZ has also harboured some really good work. Its Website is the most popular New Zealand site on the Internet. Its visionary work with low-cost, fast and flexible hard drive-based production systems for community TV was winning awards two or three years ago.
The broadcast project TVNZ has built around the America's Cup is absolutely leading edge - more interesting than the boat-racing to my mind. It has a growing international reputation as host broadcaster for major events.
Now, excuse me, but do you see Sky of TV3 doing any of this? No. Sky might have paid for the rights to screen sport, but the OB vans at the ground come from Moving Pictures, a TVNZ subsidiary. And it's not like Rupert Murdoch or Canwest Global don't have the money. They've just got better places to put it than in little old New Zealand.
The fact is, it will probably only be public policy that procures serious investment in broadcasting production and delivery in New Zealand. If that policy is to be expressed via a state broadcaster, Cabinet will probably be obliged to conclude that the state broadcaster will need a business strategy and a major partner - and, probably, that pay TV will be part of the mix. It may well decide that a deal with NTL ain't a bad idea after all - if for no other reason than that NTL is used to doing battle with Rupert Murdoch.
One cause of qualms in the government is the fact that the digital platform TVNZ wanted to use - Power TV - is not the same as that settled on by the Sky empire - Open TV. It seems a bit better for interactive services, actually, but that's beside the point. Somebody really needs to explain to Marian Hobbs that only having one kind of digital decoder in New Zealand isn't as good an idea as it sounds.
Sure, things could be worked so everyone's got the same set-top box. But it's almost impossible at present to have more than one service delivering to any one box. One reason for that is that these things are built with chips that can be rewritten over the air as the broadcaster requires. Having two services managing the same box would be like having Telecom and Vodafone trying to mess with your mobile phone at the same time.
Basically, just like you need a different phone for each of the cellular providers, you're going to need a different box for every service provider. It's actually not that big a deal.
On the other hand, if Sky Television is granted the monopoly on the delivery of digital television in New Zealand we will all surely be rogered by Rupert. Sky's production standards are shoddy enough as it is, without handing them the nation on a plate. There must be meaningful competition in digital - and if it's not going to be TVNZ and NTL then the government needs to work out who it is going to be.
And, finally, a word on Waitangi. The Prime Minister will celebrate our national day at Akaroa - and frankly the wicked old witch and the silly old men deserve no better.
Ngapuhi can't expect to get the main event back until it sorts its own shit out. And maybe not even then. Maybe the feast ought to be mobile.
We tend to forget that the big official production at Waitangi is the legacy of a former Prime Minister - Rob Muldoon. Perhaps, in broadening the focus of the day, the new Prime Minister may be creating a legacy of her own - G'bye!