48:00.00 Yesterday at 1pm, President George W. Bush told Saddam Hussein and his cohorts to leave Baghdad. Where to go, he did not say; why, he was a bit dodgy on that one too; for how long was also left a bit up in the air, but had a ring of ‘permanently’ about it, rather than just suggesting Hussein looked tired and could do with a couple of weeks in the Med. The ‘when’ though, the ‘when’ was pretty certain. 48 hours.
47:51.43 You could feel the collective consciousness of the media industry slipping off its seat with excitement. Not that a war was imminent, not that finally something had happened, but that there was going to be a COUNTDOWN…
47:42.24 Within minutes, the TV3 promo department (subject to much attention of late) was in full swing. By the end of the 6pm bulletin that night we cut to a slick teaser for the next night’s bulletin: John Campbell “Join us tomorrow night on Three, when the countdown enters its final twenty-four hours!” One thing about Campbell, the man knows his subtraction.
47:41.94 On the station that brought you the inherently drawn-out Keifer Sutherland vehicle “24”, and its sequel “25” it all seemed to fit rather too well. It was hardly therefore surprising when a small stopwatch appeared in the bottom left-hand corner (the right-hand side, of course, being reserved for the company logo) and began counting down.
47:40.29 TV3 Sales & Marketing Sponsorship Account Manager Rod Nelson got on the phone with Vodafone. Were they interested in a tie-in deal? Txt the exact time the bombs start raining on Baghdad to win a prepay prize pack… The idea is put on hold until the final eight hours to avoid appearing too eager to commercialise on modern warfare.
47.24.78 A bidding war begins between the networks to secure viewing rights. TV2, with its deep pockets, comes out the winner, and announces a special double premiere feature over Wednesday and Thursday nights, 48 Hours and Another 48 Hours. Cadbury’s agrees on a sponsorship package.
46.58.47 TV1’s outgoing Head of Current Affairs Heaton Dyer decides to hold a Telethon to rebuild Iraq following the inevitable conflict. It will, he reasons, be his legacy in a position where he spent the best, well at least the most recent month-and-a-half of his life. The idea is scrapped when TVNZ’s new head of Interior Decorating points out that the red LCD screens which display the total amount raised would clash ever-so awfully with the new burnt sienna news set. The plan is scaled back to a powhiri and a sausage sizzle.
46.02.65 Parliament begins an urgent debate on the Iraq issue, now that it is really too late to do anything anyway. Filled with a sudden confidence, knowing that anything he might say is already irrelevant, National Leader Bill English finally decides on a position. “We shud,” he states, “support our tradushional ullies.”
46.01.35 When asked whether National believes we should send troops to the conflict, “in support of our tradushional ullies”, English backtracks, turns around, falls over and finds himself sitting in Gerry Brownlee’s lap. Why Gerry Brownlee insists on keeping his seat warm every time his beloved leader is addressing the House puzzles English, but now is not the time for such considerations. “That would depend on whether the US asked us to,” he observes insightfully.
46.01.32 Richard Prebble grunts in support.