Hard News by Russell Brown


5.30 Follies

Tony Holden left the building, and it hasn't taken long for his 5.30 folly to follow. The Point, the $12 million project to give TV One a ratings run-in to its nightly news bulletin, was cancelled yesterday. Frankly, there are better things to do with that much money.

I certainly feel some sympathy for the creative people who were developing the proposed family-friendly soap - it can't be much fun having your project yanked - but this programme just didn't have enough reasons to exist.

So now there's $8.5 million in NZ On Air funding to be reallocated, and the remaining $2.9 million of "direct government funding" looking for a home. With other funding already earmarked to produce content for Freeview (sorry, TVNZ3) , it seems there will be a bit to go around. Get those props in promptly, folks.

Meanwhile, TV3 must surely be quite unable to believe its luck that a cheap, ropey dated Aussie soap called Home and Away pulls a 41.2% share in the half-hour leading up to its news bulletin. And that TVNZ's not unreasonable punt in putting up another cheap, ropey dated Aussie soap called Neighbours against it has been rewarded by an audience share less than half what the channel achieved in the same slot a year ago. Ouch.

TVNZ's problem is that, to preclude any impression of fear or favour, the news operation is not funded by the taxpayer, but from the broadcaster's own commercial activity. This was fine when One News bestrode the ratings like a colossus hewn in the image of Judy Bailey, but it's not so good now.

Meanwhile, has anybody noticed how lame msn.co.nz is? It has a few feeds plonked in, and some commercial search boxes filling up an inordinate amount of space on the right-hand side of every page, but jeez, it looks like the portal that nobody loves.

PA reader Riddley Walker was at the Auckland leg of last night's police protest marches. He reports that it wasn't exactly the way it was portrayed on the late news. Surprise me.

Anyway, I won't go on: there's some great new writing for you to consume on Public Address this morning: the first instalment of our Cricket World Cup blog, Aye Calypso, and another journey into the badlands with Alan Bollard by the ostensibly mild-mannered David Haywood. I assume it's already a cult item in the corridors of power.

While we're on sport, Waj, a member of the private rugby mailing list I'm on, has been providing us with a savvy Super 14 tipsheet every week lately, and Paul Waite has started putting it on Haka, so everyone can read it.

I'll just say a little about the fundraiser for our family. It's quite humbling, and since I fronted on Breakfast on Tuesday to talk about Asperger Syndrome I've been contacted by a steady stream of parents with kids on the autistic spectrum, and come onto contact with a few grown-up aspies too. There's some good stuff in the discussion thread if you'd like to know more.

Now's not the time to go into too much detail about the community side of the project, but I have a provisional name for the support website we'll establish and I'm talking to people about things. Unsolicited donations have caught us a bit unawares, but we'll set up a dedicated account this morning and shift them out of the account we use when we go to the supermarket. I'd also like to express thanks to a number of bloggers with whom relations have often been mutually hostile. I find their support in this instance quite moving and I won't forget it.

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