Television 3 offers an opportunity for the productive sector to advance common sense
With the For Sale sign officially hoisted over New Zealand’s Television 3 channel an 11th hour remedy to the channel’s trouble emerges in the form of its presenters saying what they think, instead of what their polite society audience who do not watch television anyway, think that they should think.
When the middle class family group studio presentation formula began to evolve 50 years ago the average age of the population was 25 years old.
The average age of the average New Zealander is now nudging 40 years old i.e middle age.
Half the population is under middle age, and the other half middle aged.
Television Three allowed itself to be drawn into the slipstream suction of the government controlled broadcasting operation in quickly taking up the full slate of advanced idealistic doctrines formulated by the Guardian and then echo-chambered through the BBC and then relayed via Australia’s ABC.
The channel’s proprietor woke up to this last year and slewed around its talk radio channel from being the poor man’s version of Radio New Zealand.
Gone were the jokey, middle of the road types, with their rosy familial anecdotes, and in their place three presenters Sean Plunket, Peter Williams, and Ryan Bridge who now contrapuntally challenge the very type of ideology actively being propagated by the government broadcasting operation.
The advertising expenditure followed this focus re-adjustment as the listening audience found that presenters chimed with their point of view.
The channel’s key show, the AM Show, now gave the impression of seeking to straddle this very demographic which had been hiding in full sight for so long.
But it also gave the impression of being still partially hypnotised by the London ideology arbiters which are all entirely subsidised: the BBC by taxpayers, the Guardian by philanthropy, and the relay repeater the ABC by the Australian taxpayer.
So why does TV3 tacitly or deliberately follow their line?
Enter now, stage Left, the hidden persuaders, the advertising agencies. They are in the business of influencing the purchasing by one very identifiable segment which is those from 18 to their mid 30s and who are ideally women and ones with a university degree, and about to set up house.
As social media began to absorb more and more mainstream advertising, so the advertising agencies put their support behind the happy family collective platforming staffed with womenfolk if they didn’t actually have university degrees then looked as if they did.
This in turn was reinforced visually and verbally by the manifest iteration of university values which in turn are deemed to be the values of those who have money to spend, especially on big ticket things such as cars and domestic fitments. Today’s conformity is thus centred on contemporary university values.
The result is that as the mainstream broadcasting audience greys with the weight of the years so it is treated as if it were greening with the sap of idealism.
The happy family presentation platform sidesteps sensitive issues and if one seems to be looming or unavoidable, then family members segue on cue into familial chatter about docile spouses or wilful kiddies. The era of the standalone presenter had passed. Anyone still remember Paul Holmes?
It is not that long ago that Winston Peters declared that TV3 was “better” than the government version. TV3 in the event, and under pressure from the advertising agencies, began to take on the colours of its subsidised competitor and did so by looking and sounding more and more like it.
But the green shoots, this time of rebellion, are starting to show. Management, which has had the channel on the market for quite some time, must carefully nurture them now that the sale is public.
Curiously and nobody is talking about this for obvious reasons TV3/Mediaworks is a component of one of the world’s biggest pools of money. It is controlled by Brookfield Asset Management.
A fellow Brookfield stablemate is Westinghouse Electric Company, a nuclear reactor design and builder.
While industrial ownership of newspapers is now commonplace (think Amazon’s proprietorship of the Washington Post) it remains unusual in the broadcasting sector.
Brookfield shouldered the New Zealand broadcaster from Oaktree Capital Management an outfit specialising as a vulture fund acquiring businesses on the verge of liquidation.
There have been signs of fire and fury in TV3. The guest-hosting by former Republican senator and now ambassador Scott Brown was one.
The straight-to-camera editorialising to Winston Peters about Winston Peters by Mark Richardson still another.
Another industrial proprietor this time with a productivity base in New Zealand itself will be in a position to counter the London-originating point of view with some badly needed home truths, and steer the channel away from the media magnetic north of juvenilia and shrill identity issues..