Saturday, 23 July 2005

Coke not drug of choice for Kiwis

The frenzy continues over the possible identities of the "two celebrity sportsmen" caught up in the recent Auckland drugs bust, with debates raging over the pros and cons of name suppression.

Meanwhile, as Police reveal their investigations have "thrown up the names of other celebrities", suggestions of a range of kiwi sports stars and other celebrities also being passed around via email, and on internet message boards and chatrooms.

However today's NZ Herald quotes one New Zealand Police officer (
Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Potaka, who oversees the National Drug Intelligence Bureau), as saying Cocaine isn't a huge problem in New Zealand. An economist says that's because its a "rich person's drug" here..

It seems the apparently high cost of Cocaine, E, and
methamphetamines puts kiwis off those drugs. Meanwhile, daily newspaper court reports are full of people appearing for cannibas offences (the peasant people's drug of choice).

The story also notes:
In Britain, cocaine has become the drug of choice for the middle classes, who dub it "Charlie".

Speaking on his first day as Britain's top policeman, Sir Ian Blair said this year: "People are having dinner parties where they drink less wine and snort more cocaine."

He criticised them for wrongly believing it was "socially acceptable" to enjoy a "wrap of Charlie" at weekends.

* Full story here... NZ Herald: Stars ask 'who's next' after drugs bust

In unrelated news, it looks like a good few weeks on the telly ahead... The hilarious BBC comedy series Little Britain returns for a second season, beginning Sunday night (24th July) at 9.50 pm on Prime TV.
* Prime TV: Little Britain Series 2

Another good sketch comedy series to catch is Skithouse (from Rove's production company). The Aussie show's now sadly buried on TV3 at 11.20 pm on Monday nights, but is worth staying up for.

The new series of Survivor (in Palau) starts this Tuesday (July 26th) at 8.30 pm on TV3.
* TV3: Survivor: Palau

Meanwhile the hilarious duo of Marc Ellis and Matthew Ridge return the following Tuesday (2nd August) for a new series of travel antics. This time they're travelling around South America...
* TV2: Matthew and Marc's Rocky Road to South America

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Labour's Real Seven Point Pledge Card...

Prime Minister Helen Clark recently announced that Labour will offer voters a new seven-point pledge card this election campaign (similar to the ones they had in '02 and '99).

Prolific kiwi blogger, David Farrar managed to obtain an advance leaked copy of Labour's Seven planned Pledges, and now fellow blogger Whale Oil has got hold of the first copies, hot of the press... ;-)

Hat tips to: David Farrar (kiwiblog) and Whale Oil Beef Hooked

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Sunday, 17 July 2005

MMP vs the Media

The Herald on Sunday have published a poll, which shows ACT party leader Rodney Hide currently running third in the electorate of Epsom (although an apparently unpublished question has him winning if Epsom voters believe that this win will ensure a centre-right government).

Epsom's currently held by National's Richard Worth, who at #16 on the National Party List is safe as houses, whether or not he wins Epsom. Meanwhile, ACT are keen to pick up an electorate seat, to act as an MMP insurance policy if they somehow fail make 5% this election.

More important though is the way minor parties are look at by the New Zealand media, if they do hold an electorate seat. It is common for minor parties to poll below the 5% threshold outside of an election campaign. However, in the monthly opinion polls, parties that don't currently hold a seat are discounted in the final seat breakdown... which can eventually turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy when inexperienced party members start agreeing with inexperienced members of the media.

(Most journalists have little understanding of economics or math (just ask your average journo to explain what they mean when they say the phrase "margin of error" ;-) Another concept the bulk of the media are failing to comprehend is that of "overhang"... Rather than the 120 MPs we now have, September 17th's General Election will likely return at least 126 MPs (largely thanks to the Maori Party, although even Labour could contribute to this). That increases the likelihood of 3 or 4 way coalition or support deal to form a government).

Former ACT Party leader, Richard Prebble secured Wellington Central in the first MMP election, only to lose it '99 when Labour persuaded the Alliance and the Greens not to stand candidates in the seat, allowing Ms Marion Hobbs to steal it.

In reality, the Greens are just as likely to be left out of the next Parliament, after Jeanette Fitzsimons lost Coromandel last election. Last time around they had the GE-free campaign momentum... the Zimbabwe Cricket debate may have come in the nick of time to save them, giving the Greens an issue that can bring them a wider base of support.

However, the ACT Party are good election campaigners, and should succeed easily in nailing the 5% threshold this election. However, the party needs to also succeed in bringing home Epsom if they're to have a secure stepping stone with which to build the party's support above the current 10% or so that are currently leaning in their direction.

* Epsom Poll: Rodney Hide's take
* Epsom Poll: Aaron Bhatnagar's take

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Saturday, 16 July 2005

CTV blunders in Local News decision

Okay, first a bit of history... Regional/Local television has had a chequered past in New Zealand. A number of stations and companies have come & gone since local operators began UHF broadcasts.

Dunedin's Channel 58 was the first local station in the country to make it on air in mid-1991, followed around a week later by Joanana McMenamin's original CTV in Christchurch.

Regional news broadcasts were previously the domain of State TV, however a major gap opened up in the market when they canned their 4 regional news breakouts altogether (The Top Half (out of Auckland), Today Tonight (Wellington), The Mainland Touch (Christchurch), and The South Tonight (Dunedin).

State TV did have another go a few years later, by taking control of Horizon Pacific Television (HPTV), which had stations in Auckland (ATV), Hamilton (Coast to Coast), Wellington (Capital), Dunedin (Southern), and later buying Christchurch's CTV.

However, State TV and Neil Roberts panicked when CanWest managed to rejig their frequencies to create a 2nd semi-national network, to launch their new youth channel, TV4. HPTV was dumped (despite showing signs of being on the right track) in favour of launching MTV into New Zealand as a spolier (albeit one largely sourced via satellite from MTV-UK).

Now, decades later, the Government are finally coming to the party, with a small package of funding for local television. (Although to be fair, when I say "coming to the party", what I really mean is they're bringing a couple of bags of Ready-Salted Crisps and a half-eaten tub of dip ;-)

The new funding announced recently translates to less than $1 million a year spread across all the local stations... compare that with around $40 million a year for the over-hyped and under-watched Maori Television. While Australia gets SBS, providing a broad range of multicultural programming, New Zealand's Labour Government funds a "politically correct" service, while largely ignoring the country's other large ethnic populations in terms of State TV funding).

Anyways, some money's on the way, and a positive start's better than nothing. NZ on Air are still consulting on how to allocate the money. I can only hope that common sense prevails, and they don't simply divide the small pot equally amongst the 12 or so groups calling themselves "regional television broadcasters".

In reality, less than half a dozen of these stations are providing what can reasonably be described as a local service, and even some of those are turning out product which borders on "tin-shed tv". Dunedin's Channel 9 is one of the few stations in the country turning out a full-service local news broadcast every weeknight.
Southland TV also broadcast a nightly news/sports/lifestyle show in Invercargill, although their reporters seem to have an aversion to compiling network-style voiced tracks, seeming to prefer to broadcast raw footage instead. (Southland TV actually broadcasts on VHF in the south, and nationwide on Sky Digital if you pay at least $45 a month for Sky's grossly overpriced "Startup" service)

CTV did have a local news service up until last year, when they ditched it in favour of a basic "CTV News Line" headlines service, plus a few stories in Southern Week, their weekly news in review show compiled in association with Channel 9. Now the station's cancelled both Southern Week and the Headlines service altogether, preferring to focus on its Shopping and Lifestyle programming and new Tourist Channel.

Huh?! A local channel without local news and information?! Surely local news is the reason d'etre for any local television station?! It's baffling that in a South Island city with a population of over 338,000, CTV believes there is no call for a local news service.

At one stage, 3 tv stations were providing a nightly news broadcast in Christchurch... an excellent quality programme from the local Prime TV crew, along with a passable one from CTV-FTN, and a slightly dodgy one from CHTV. Now that the current incarnation of CTV has the market to itself, it's decided it can't produce even a 15 minute local news wrap.

Now, I accept that local tv news is a relatively expensive beast to produce. However, it should be the Flagship show of any local station, and as such should be accepted to some extent as "a loss leader".

Westpac and CanWest both understood this, in continuing TV3's 6pm and Nightline news broadcasts during times of an extreme shortage of money. Canning one or both of TV3's news shows would have saved millions of dollars, at a time when neither shows were bringing in huge ratings. However, they understood the station needed News, both as a flagship product, and to help attract viewers to their evening programming.

CTV's management are also claiming there is little or no demand in Christchurch for a locally produced news service. I find these claims highly dubious. Maybe the public of Christchurch are sick of "being burnt" by their local stations, having seen the most transformations of any tv market in the country. However, I see no reason why a quality locally produced news broadcast, carefully scheduled and promoted, would not attract a large and loyal audience in Christchurch.

There are murmurs that CTV News could rise from the dead around December (presumably once NZ on Air's money comes through). That may be too little too late for the people of Canterbury.

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Sunday, 3 July 2005

Labour's Billboard campaign to promote Red Tape

It seems Billboard advertising is the current focus of this year's Election campaign...

National came out with their simple and clever billboards showing clearly the differences between them and Labour... ACT followed with an amusing twist on National's billboards, adding a third column with a photo of leader Rodney Hide, and contrasting the policies of National and Labour...

Here's a few of my favourites... Actually, not all are "real" billboards, but ones created via ACT's interesting "Design an ACT Billboard" competition on their website...

* Design an ACT Billboard... Lots of fun for the whole family!

Meanwhile, Labour's fighting back on the Billboard front... beginning with one proudly promoting how much the Labour Party loves Red Tape, even for our littlest kiddies...
(Cheers to Anna's blog, Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour for that one...)
* ECB Blog: Labour. Wrapping New Zealanders in red tape from birth.

* STUFF: Back to the drawing board for Labour
[ Right now I'm listening to:
^ Mel C - Next Best Superstar ]
^ Tina Cousins - Wonderful Life ]

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Is it still 'Best News' when it's two weeks late?!

Gobsmacked! That's what I am after catching one of the top stories on State Television's news on Friday night.

I usually manage to stay well away from their 6pm One News broadcast (just before the dire Close Up & Go Home At 7), but caught a promo for an item their late night news, Tonight, that made me stick around and watch. (I'm guessing it was probably on at 6 as well).

One of their top local stories was a piece by one little Benny Tornquist, about how many Lions fans don't consider themselves part of the 'Barmy Army' (that's really a Cricket thing)... and about how Barmy Army organiser Freddy Parker has apparently over-hyped the impact his travelling crew would have.

Ben spoke to Lindsay McKinney, a Dunedin bar owner and local representative of the Hospitality Association. McKinney was encouraged by Freddy to bring in big screen tellies, and organise around the clock live music & entertainment for the onslaught of Barmy Army supporters.

Unfortunately, only a handful of Lions fans stuck around the official Barmy Army base at Dunedin's Railway Station. That left McKinney thousands of dollars out of pocket, with 77 kegs of beer and lots of food going back to suppliers.
Good wee story... problem is, it was actually done a lot better by TV3 and local station Channel 9 around a fortnight ago...

Come on State TV!! Doing a story a day or two after the others is fairly common... but trying to do it two weeks later, just because you missed it the first time around is a bit suss for a major national broadcaster?! There's been two test matches since the Lions game in Dunedin!

Freddy Parker apparently wouldn't talk to State TV on Friday... despite appearing on the items on 3News and 9 Local News a few weeks back.

The saddest part of all this is... How many other stories are viewers of State TV's news missing out on? Officially, One News was judged 'Best News' at this year's Qantas Media Awards. Good to see standards aren't slipping then... ;-)
[ Right now I'm listening to:
^ Tina Cousins - Love Comes Back
^ Natural Ex - Stay by my Side
^ Darin - I Can See You Girl ]

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