Sainsbury on plans to axe Close Up
Thu, 27 Sep 2012 4:35p.m.
By Karen Rutherford
The host of TVNZ's current affairs programme Close Up is philosophical about its axing.
The state broadcaster will likely pull the plug on the show at the end of the year, but host Mark Sainsbury says he's had a fantastic run at TVNZ and it's time to do something different.
He isn't surprised his 31-year television career could be coming to an end.
"Nothing lasts forever,” he says.
“Well, I've just about lasted forever but things change and move on and it's a competitive market out there.”
Sainsbury and his 16 team members will finish up in November. Advertising industry commentator Cindy Mitchener says it was on the cards.
“It's not a surprise – the ratings for current affairs at 7pm have been on the down for some time,” she says.
“I think they've done it because they blinked first."
TVNZ wouldn't appear on camera but says viewers are looking for something fresh and different in early-evening current affairs. It won't say who will replace Sainsbury as host, but would say the show in its current format has run its course.
Former TVNZ news and current affairs head Bill Ralston was quick to criticise the announcement.
"I think its a spectacular failure in the making,” he says.
But television networks are up against it. Research shows 80 percent of people using free-to-air television prefer the light stuff. Shortland Street easily out-rates both 7pm current affairs shows.
And the internet it seems is where we're increasingly getting our news.
“They're not getting it at a set time from the television set, people are getting their news whenever they feel like it online,” says Ms Mitchener.
Advertisers too are opting for the internet revolution – their spend not so much in newspapers, radio, or even television nowadays. The growth is online.
“Close Up as a nightly current affairs show doesn't pull the ratings that they want,” says Mr Ralston.
“The numbers aren't bad, but the wrong people watch – they're older, they don't live in Auckland and they are not household shoppers,” he says.
While TVNZ is yet to divulge the look of its new 7pm slot, TV3 maintains it's committed to Campbell Live.
As for Sainsbury’s future, he says “male modelling might be the first thing on the list”.
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