TVNZ launched the first phase of its website revamp this morning. Almost anything would have been an improvement, but the rebuilt news site would seem to have a decent chance of wooing back news junkies from the newspaper sites, especially given that they're promising to operate a 24-hour newsdesk.
They're foregoing an advertising banner on the home page in favour of a highlights navigation and the rest of the home page is clean and open, if heavier on the Flash that some people will like. The theory that what people really want from the news is the weather is in full operation.
The Google-powered search engine can sort results by relevance or date, but doesn't seem to have indexed the bulk of the site content so far. A search on "Phil Goff" brings up only one recent news story, and, sadly, my own name brought no results. Pages are sometime also loading very slowly.
The video player is improved, and delivers clips up to 300k, but you'll have to wait till next year for a state-of-the-art player streaming HD video.
The next big launch will be the other half of the strategy, the "Entertainment" site, in March. Shortly before that, they'll be offering catch-up viewing of nearly the entire TVNZ schedule, including foreign shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives. I think the digital channels will have to wait a little while for the new online look.
Also, the MyFreeview HD PVR (officially, they're calling it a "DTR" or digital television recorder, because that's the name that came up best in consumer research) should be in the shops today. I got a demo of it a couple of weeks ago and was impressed at how much they'd spruced up the original Zinwell box and even had the remote (a typical weakness of this kind of kit, and a particular strength of the MySky) rearranged.
It has two tuners, rather than the MySky HDi's three, but is smart enough to look for and record the next instance of your chosen programme if there's a scheduling clash or a recording failure. The main problem right now? Price. They'll want it to come down from that RRP of $1149 pretty soon.
Update on democracy …
John Armstrong surveys the debris of National's "shambolic" first few days of attempting to run a Parliament, and deems the unnecessary recourse to urgency on the new bills "reprehensible".
No Right Turn notes that some of the bills to be rushed through all stages haven't even been drafted yet and declares:
… this is no way to run a legislature, or a democracy. You have to go back to Douglas and Richardson to see this sort of abuse of the Parliamentary process. And if this is how National intends to run Parliament - as if the change to MMP had never happened, and this was still an FPP elected dictatorship - then I think it is incumbent on the opposition to take a page out of National's book, and make the House utterly unmanageable until the normal Parliamentary and democratic process is restored.
And the Herald's editorial page, which began the week hailing a shiny new era in Parliamentary politics, is presently keeping its own counsel …