Is Brand 'Wood' Now A Liability For TVNZ?
The media director for BBDO Colenso, Peter Myles, considers it likely that Susan Wood will experience a "negative" reaction from TV viewers following her employment dispute with TVNZ.
"I'd say the chances of there being no consumer reaction is minimal. If there is going to be a reaction it is most likely going to be negative," Mr Myles told Scoop this afternoon.
The fact that Ms Wood won her employment dispute was beside the point, according to Mr Myles.
"Whether or not she won doesn't really matter – the consumer doesn't care - they are more likely to focus on how much Ms Wood gets paid…I think [despite] the fact that the Employment Tribunal finds in her favour, and rightly so, the consumer takes a much more honest approach and says 'excuse me you just won a hundred thousand dollars. F***! I'm earning fifty thousand."
Former head of TVNZ news and media commentator Paul Norris also considered Ms Wood is likely to face a negative reaction from viewers.
Mr Norris pointed out to Scoop that TVNZ's news hour had suffered a fall in ratings after the revelation that Ms Bailey's salary had been doubled to nearly $800,000 in late 2004.
"TVNZ will have to give consideration as to whether they want Susan Wood to continue in that high profile role," he said.
Media reports in 2000 estimated the fallout over John Hawkesby's disastrous stint in the news readers chair may have cost TVNZ up to $20 million. As well as $6 million severance pay to Mr Hawkesby, TVNZ was also hit hard by the loss of advertising revenue when the ratings plummeted after Richard Long's (temporary) departure.
In New Zealand a device called a People Meter measures ratings. There are People Meters in 470 households around New Zealand, providing a sample of around 1150 people. Should a significant proportion of households with People Meters decide they no longer identify with 'brand' Wood and stop watching Close Up @7 the flow-on effect in lost revenue for TVNZ may be many times even Ms Wood's pay packet.
Susan Wood returns this evening as the host of Close Up @7. A press statement from TVNZ declared "delight" that Ms Wood was returning to our screens.
"We have valued and continue to value Susan very highly and want her to continue working with us. She has done a tremendous job leading our flagship nightly current affairs programme this year and we are keen to see her continue in that role," said Assistant CEO, Stephen Smith.
At present Close Up @7 easily out rates TV3's Campbell Live – should that situation change in the next few weeks Mr Smith's "delight" at Ms Wood's return may prove very short lived.