Dotcom claims National killed Campbell Live

The Herald has an item previewing a John Campbell exclusive “I was devastated” due out in Metro today that gives Campbell’s views on the demise of Campbell Live earlier this year.

John Campbell breaks his silence: I was devastated we couldn’t make show work

John Campbell has finally spoken of the dramatic cancellation of his show Campbell Live and his subsequent departure from TV3, saying his axing came as a shock and left him grieving.

“I still feel sad about it,” he said. “It wasn’t about me or my career or anything, because what I believe we created was a model of constructive, illuminating, empathetic television that also had enough going for it to commercially be sustainable. And I was devastated by our inability to make that work.”

There’s no mention in the Herald article about Kim Dotcom but he refers to it in a tweet:

Kim Dotcom Retweeted nzherald

Your brave investigative journalism about my case killed your show. National killed it. I’m so sorry .

So Dotcom is claiming his story killed Campbell Live, and somehow National is responsible. I’ve seen this claimed on the activist left but I’ve never seen it substantiated close to adequately.

Dotcom could claim his story mortally wounded the Mana Party election chances but somehow I doubt he was responsible for all the ratings problems of Campbell Live and TV3 (Story is a similar story with no stories done on Dotcom).


Boycott bolshiness

There was criticism of over-reaction on Twitter about the threat to boycott Spark after Whale Oil promoted them as sponsors of their Decade of Dirt party. Whale Oil later toned down their claims. See Sparks fly after Whale Oil sponsorship claim.

There’s been a number of examples of boycott vigilantism on Twitter, which began with a worth protest about radio coverage of Roast Busters which turned into an overplayed obsession.

The boycott bas-wagon revved up over the canning of Campbell Live, with campaigning to keep boycotting 3 news over a loss of Current Affairs on TV.

What the vigilantes didn’t seem to figure out was that beating 3 News into submission would further reduce news and current affairs.

This was pointed out yesterday in a tweet by producer @AngusGillies with a message image.

3NewsBoycottThere has also been a post about this at The Standard – The TV3 boycott – where Antony Robins recognises the problem…

But boycotts are a two-edged sword. As well as sending a message to those in power they can also damage the innocent workers. Boycotts are on a spectrum that ends in “internet lynch mobs”.

But the first comment

Your logic of “don’t act because there is collateral damage” applies to every civic action.

Consumer boycott has the power of a strike.

If journalists are having the conversation you describe, imagine the conversations the Board members are having.

And, if TV3 fails again, perhaps out of it will come a different kind of investigative media hybrid altogether.

Perhaps instead there will be a further and far more substantial reduction in news and current affairs if TV3 goes broke. That seems more likely.

David H doesn’t car if the whole channel is lost:

“would cost journalists (workers!) jobs and thus weaken the media.”

Workers?? Jonolists like Gower, Obrien and Sabin? Ass kissing, Key loving, Labour hating, Make it up Jonolists. And the production teams that know they are spreading hate and bullshit? Yep I am really sad for this lot.

Does he only want journalists that serve up what he approves of?

Draco T Bastard

In war there is collateral damage and make no mistake, we are at war. It’s a war for control of our government and our lives and the journalists at TV3 are on the wrong side. It’s a war of if that control should be by us through our elected representatives or by the corporations through the government owned by them with us manipulated through the MSM.

Should we be afraid that a few people may lose their jobs? No.

But we also need to be working on other fronts to ensure that power is taken from the corporations and returned to the people, that we get a true public service TV and that our society shifts from the me, me, me type that the Fourth Labour government brought in in the 1980s and return to being a society about all of us.

But DTB wants it under the control of a government further to the left of Mana (remember them?)


Like the new version of Milo, Cadbury’s palm oil chocolate, and cheaper eggs coming from caged hens we have to stamp this out.


Having such a fucked out MSM actually also drives viewers to places like the Standard, for people hungry for real news and discussion. So although TV3 may not be benefiting, it does create other opportunities and appetite for alternative news.

“Real news and discussion” at the Standard? Little news, much discussion, but under the direction and control of draconian overlords who don’t tolerate input from outside their narrow collective.

Maybe they can get Labour to put forward a policy to state fund The Standard as a great new way forward for news and discussion.

That could come with a requirement to rename The Standard to Pravda. Or perhaps Ivestia might be more appropriate.

Campbell who?

Around about now they will be having either a party or a wake on Campbell Live.

A programme usually watched by about 5% of people suddenly became an essential part of New Zealand life, according to about 1% of people.

John Campbell seemed ok to me, and did some ok stuff on television amongst a bunch of fluff. As far as I know – which isn’t very much, I hardly ever watched Campbell Live. I hardly ever watched Holmes either. And I mostly don’t watch whoever is on One now nor Paul Henry’s vanity show in the morning. I just don’t care much about personality based infotainment.

So while I guess in ways it’s a bit sad Campbell Live will soon be dead I don’t think it will be the end of New Zealand as we know it.

Nor the end of democracy – the vaguely democratic stuff on Campbell Live was usually text polls which are not scientific or democratic or reliable at all.

The main television channels have evolved into advertiser driven lightweight paff. There’s no point in crying over the demise of a dinosaur programme.

There’s one plus for the lefties who think Campbell ceasing is a travesty of something – they will have something else to blame losing elections on (apart from themselves and their own blinkered embubblement).

Too bad John, but you had not a bad run and programmers move on. So will the rest of us.

Sorry, I just don’t think it’s that big a deal.

Christ would weep

Campbell Live had another in a series of items on Gloriavale tonight. A young woman who had left the community wanted to go back and see her sister, and Dan Parker took her and a crew to try and get her in.

It wasn’t surprising to see resistance to a camera crew, even though they said they would stay outside as long as the sisters could meet.

However the father came to the gate and spoke to his daughter. He rejected her completely because she wouldn’t totally accept ‘my god’.

It looks very out of whack when a religious group insists that strict adherence to their beliefs takes precedence over family.

And that a lack of total compliance forces families apart.

Jesus would weep.

Campbell Live: Gloriavale: Julia returns to see her family

Key questions on publicly funded ‘broadcasting’

Stuff reports on John Key talking about publicly funded broadcasting, asking Would people watch publicly funded broadcast TV?

He said it was unclear whether there would be enough demand for a public broadcaster in New Zealand, similar to the ABC or BBC.

“I mean I don’t know do you set up a public public broadcaster on television? Could you get enough people to watch it?”

Key said he suspected the review of Campbell Live was linked to the audience’s changing viewing habits.

“The real issue is the way we take news is changing. It’s not just news on the radio any more, it’s on your Facebook feed, it’s on your Twitter feed, it’s on all these websites. So when you sit down to watch the news, the question is at 6 o’clock at night is ‘is it news?’.

“I just wonder whether that’s the issue, capturing their imagination in a busy world.

“I just wonder whether people get to 7 o’clock and want to zone out on stuff. I don’t know but I assume that’s why stations are responding the way they are.”

One doesn’t need to be an acquaintance of Mark Weldon to come up with obvious possibilities like that.

Also on Stuff Paul Thompson opines in Audiences will dictate the changing face of news and current affairs.

(Thompson is chief executive of Radio New Zealand and former executive editor of Fairfax Media.)

So, it is pleasing to see broadcasting finally get its moment in the sun in the wake of MediaWorks’ decision to review the Campbell Live programme.

Suddenly, petitions have been launched to save the embattled programme.

There has been handwringing and fevered discussion and politicians of all stripes have waded in.

Some would have us believe that John Campbell was the last bastion of free speech and holding government to account in New Zealand. But Thompson looks a bit further than Campbell Live.

The real problem is not the likely demise of a crusading TV programme fronted by a passionate journalist, which is losing a ratings war.

Broadcasters and programmes – and styles of programming – will always come and go in the cut-throat world of New Zealand commercial broadcasting.

Instead, attention should focus on the seismic change that is shaking every media organisation, particularly those which rely on advertising revenue.

Campbell Live‘s vulnerability is a symptom of a wider struggle.

Advertising revenues across all forms of media are under duress as audiences revel in the choice, freedom and ease of access and interaction provided by the web.

So traditional media is failing to adapt quickly enough to a rapidly evolving media landscape.

All media outlets are trying their best to adapt, even if that means large and durable businesses are being replaced by smaller more vulnerable ones.

And they seem to be fighting a losing battle.

The underlying issue is understanding the impact of this upheaval on the quality, range and depth of journalism.

It is a mixed picture.

In many ways this is a golden age for journalism as the craft unleashes the story-telling and interactive potency of the web.

In time new forms of innovation will emerge that fuse this potency with robust business models.

But that is way off yet and in the meantime journalism is in choppy waters. This matters.

Perhaps now considerable experience has been built up in alternate media and alternate journalism a fresh approach could be taken – learning from the old but embracing the new.

Which brings me back to the role of broadcasting policy, and specifically Radio New Zealand, in this changing world.

Radio New Zealand plays a privileged and pivotal role in that we are publicly funded to provide credible, independent news, current affairs and cultural programming that are insulated from the commercial pressures that beset the wider news industry.

We have always played this important role and the events and trends which are currently the focus of such concern means we have an even more crucial part to play in future.

Radio New Zealand, the country’s last remaining public service media organisation, is determined to be a positive force in this new era. We will continue to provide comprehensive, searching journalism and to get it to as many people as possible.

So we have public broadcasting. We just don’t have a big investigative presence on television. Perhaps that’s not the best medium for it now. Key could be right, television is evolving more towards entertainment, where there is better revenue potential.

It is no longer sufficient to look in isolation at radio, television, online and print and to think it is possible to shore up the old models which are under such strain.

A new, converged world is emerging, one in which audiences are in command, and that requires new thinking.

The problem is with a radio medium or a newspaper medium or a television medium trying to be all things in multi-media.

The Paul Henry Show is the latest attempt to cross the forms – it is trying to be a concurrent television and radio show with social media tacked on.

What I think we need is a fresh approach looking at the whole.

This could pick up on experience in social media – but the problem with the major forums in social media is they have been dominated by partisan interests wanting to control the message so they can somehow control politics.

That has also proven to be a failure. You just have to look at where Whale Oil, The Standard, The Daily Blog and to an extent Kiwiblog have gone. And Red Alert. They have all established sizeable audiences, relative to others, but they are small niches that most of the public know nothing about.

They overplay their perceived power and self destruct as credible media sources and open forums.

I think there are ways it could be done. And public funding may be the way to achieve it. Compared to television and to radio it could be done relatively cheaply.

I think a media umbrella could harness the potential across all media, gathering the best of public broadcasting, commercial radio, television, print and web plus building citizen journalism.

This would need to be politically independent, and would preferably be commercially independent.

Would John Key consider providing public funding for a new way of harnessing the many facets of modern media?

New Zealand is small enough to make this work. If there is a political will to provide it.

It should use the expertise of current public and commercial media, without being dominated by one. Plus the new wave of online media, which could provide the umbrella.

Mark Weldon, Medaworks, Campbell Live, John Key

Highlighting some interesting things in relation to the reported ‘review’ of Campbell Live by MediaWorks, and especially about the relationship between Mark Weldon and John Key.

Curious to see Rex Widerstrom do a guest post at The Daily Blog. In the past this sort of post would probably have been reposted at The Standard, but Prentice and Bradbury are feuding. As it’s done it’s dash at TDB It’s worth a repost here.

Rex Widerstrom – Thirteen things you (probably) didn’t know about Mark Weldon (CEO of Mediaworks)

1: He’s the man John Key picked to chair the “Summit on Employment” in 2009

2: He’s also the man John Key picked to lead The Christchurch Earthquake Appeal

3: He’s also the man who used that position to breach the Bill of Rights Act and force “the advancement of religion” into the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust’s constitution.

4: And he’s the man Cameron Slater (Whaleoil) characterises as “allegedly a friend of John Key”

5: Slater also asked on October 15 last year “Who will be the first (of many) casualties under Mark “I’m the boss” Weldon at Mediaworks?” with one commenter on that story saying “The man is a tyrant who doesn’t play nicely with others. Frankly, I love the idea of Weldon and John Campbell having to work together …”

6: He’s also the man whom insiders were picking as a potential National Party candidate for the safe seat of Tamaki.

7: And he’s a man who praised John Key’s program of asset sales announced in 2011 as “bold, it was clear, it was early – and very positive…” and called those who were cautious about it “fearmongering”. That’s the same assets sales program that had to be drastically cut back and became something of an embarrassment to the government.

8: He’s the man who made a substantial personal gain ($6 million) as a result of Key’s asset sales announcement.

9: He’s also the man who, as CEO of the NZX, characterised those who voiced concerns about aspects of the Exchange’s operations as mentally ill.

10: He’s the man who’s already got rid of two of Mediaworks’s main financial watchdogs – chief financial officer Peter Crossan and company secretary and lawyer Claire Bradley.
MediaWorks parts with more executives

11: He’s the man of whom blogger Cactus Kate (business lawyer and commentator Cathy Odgers) noted “Mediaworks currently does not employ anyone on your television or radio with a larger ego than Weldon, even Willie Jackson, Sean Plunket and Duncan Garner combined can’t compete” and that “NZX was the greatest reality soap opera in town under Weldon’s leadership, the casting couch of characters was enormous as disgruntled staff left and new bright eyed disciples were employed”.

12: He’s the man Odgers also described (in a blog post now deleted by referenced by another, also right wing, blogger) as a “weasel word corporate-welfared CEO…” and a “shallow self-promoting tool”.

13: He’s the man who said there was no conflict of interest in allowing the NZX to be the provider of NZX services, the supervisor of its members, a listed participant on its own exchange and the market regulator… a statement one broker described as “utter balderdash”.

WeldonKeyWeldon was also appointed by Key, or one of his Ministers, the Capital Markets Development Taskforce in 2009/10; the Tax Working Group in 2009; and the Climate Change Leadership Forum in 2007.

Key gave him a QSO in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Now remember that Slater, Odgers and Cresswell are all considered right wingers. They’re certainly not the type of people who’d be found cheering John Campbell’s advocacy journalism on behalf of the less fortunate.

Generally, you might expect them to be quite supportive of a man with Weldon’s background who’s chaired the NZX and is friends with the Leader of the National Party.

So, you be the judge… is the move to axe Campbell Live motivated by ratings (it’s not advertising revenue, as advertisers strongly support the show) or by something else altogether?

– Rex Widerstrom, as posted at The Daily Blog, with functional links located and added.

Terrorist bombing suggested in reaction to Campbell Live

There’s been a lot of bizarre claims about the politics involved in the suggested review of Campbell Live. ‘Sanctuary’ is one of the more extreme. At Dim-Post (commenting on Leadership! which only talks about the commercial aspects):

I guess if John key’s cronies get to shut down all critical debate we’ll just have to start stocking up on fertilizer and diesel and try to find new ways of informing them.

That seems to be a clear suggestion of some sort of Oklahoma City bombing.

rayinnz responded:

Is this the same Sanctuary who while busily calling for a real Public Broadcasting Service was also demanding utu against journalists who he felt didn’t follow his party line
Now its armed revolution.


No one is advocating armed revolution, just suggesting the usual alternative methods of gaining the attention of politicians when all the democratic ones are taken away.

In “the usual alternative methods” he was fairly clearly advocating bombing. Reviewing Campbell Live, and shutting it down if that happens, has nothing to do with taking away democratic methods.

That isn’t the only p[lace Sanctuary has been commenting on it. At The Standard:

Public broadcasting – by which I mean not just TVNZ but all the free to air broadcasters – are almost at the logical conclusion of the free market experiment.

TV3 are obliged by the conditions of their license to offer news and current affairs. I’d revoke their licence and give it to Maori TV, along with their frequency.

I don’t know how much they are ‘obliged’ to offer news and current affairs but they are not required to continue poorly supported shows.


it is actually quite scary that the last bastion of prime time current affairs can be shut down by frankly pro-government cronies with barely a murmur. In the end, if democrracy proves to “to risky” for John Key, will it go the same way as Campbell live, accompanied by a cackle of soothing and supportive noises from Hoskings, Henry, Larry Williams and David Farrar?

That was on a post that says:

So there we have it – Key’s loyal and personal friend is out to shut down the last investigative journalism left on TV. Just a bit too inconvenient for an arrogant and incompetent government in its third-term death spiral I guess.

This is over the top drivel, but not as bad as suggesting something like this:

Disgraceful from Sanctuary, but that’s just an extreme example of a lot of nonsense being spouted over something that hasn’t even happened.

Campbell Live threat commercial or political reality?

The onslaught of coverage of a ‘review’ of the Campbell Live show continues (as does the Campbell Live Show).

There have been claims that the possible killing of the show are politically motivated. For example ‘amirite’ says:

Fran O’Sullivan practically confirms that CampbellLive demotion is indeed politically motivated.

Kiwiri – Raided of the Last Shark:

Then they came for John Campbell. And what did you say?

This refers to Fran’s column Valiant Campbell may have provoked political antagonists too often.

He has not been afraid to challenge the Prime Minister directly where some of his rivals have adopted a more supine stance.

Yes. I remember when he ambushed Helen Clark in ann interview in 2002 over ‘corngate’ and she called him “a sanctimonious little creep”. Here is video of that interview.

But despite many on the left seeing the threat to Campbell’s show as political O’Sullivan also points out:

The broad underlying commercial issue is that TV3 — which is still financially stretched and is building towards an IPO — can hardly be required to keep the programme in a prime slot unless it retains and grows ratings and revenues.

And Campbell Live is performing poorly compared to TV1’s Seven Sharp and TV2’as Shortland Street – and compared to how Campbell has rated in the past.

And Anthony Robins raises it to post level at The Standard in O’Sullivan on Campbell, Weldon and Key.

So there we have it – Key’s loyal and personal friend is out to shut down the last investigative journalism left on TV. Just a bit too inconvenient for an arrogant and incompetent government in its third-term death spiral I guess.

Robins has quoted very selective parts of O’Sullivan’s column – lprent calls that sort of thing lying by omission and bans people for it…except when he agrees the slanted author message.

While Campbell tends left in his interests, sympathies and his social campaigns he works for a commercial channel that has a history of failing to make enough money.

If Campbell Live stays alive for the good of democracy then  the whole of TV3 could die, including other current affairs programmes like The National. And New Zealand would lose their political reporting from the likes of Patrick Gower.

And Gower is no darling of the left, so they would probably applaud his demise – some of them already virtually demand it.

So while the review of Campbell Live is undoubtedly commercial reality many of the protests are politically motivated.

(Note: I’d personally prefer Campbell Live not to be replaced by more brain dead ‘reality’ TV but I recognise the right of a commercial media organisation to broadcast any crap they like).

Killing Campbell Live

I missed most of the attention given last night to the possible axing of Campbell Live. It’s funny what sparks indignation. It would be a shame to see the end of Campbell Live I guess, but I don’t watch it very often so personally won’t miss it.

TV3 is moving more towards lightweight ‘reality’ TV but it hasn’t just suddenly happened, television has been dumbing down for a long time.

I think a major problem with the main television channels who once may have been considered interested in serious news and current affairs coverage is that people who were interested in that sort of television have been searching the Internet for what they want more and more.

That leaves the lightweight viewers to dominate the ratings of the increasingly banal entertainment that the channels dish up.

There was a time – a long time – when I tried to watch the six o’clock news if at all possible.

Now I don’t care if I miss it – I already know most of the news they cover. Sometimes I knew about it half a day or a day (or more) earlier.

Even manufactured news is stale by six o’clock. For example The Nation is played at 9.30 on a Saturday morning and features political interviews. If you watch this, and if you monitor journalist tweets leading into the programme and afterwards, you can have a pretty good guess what they will cover as ‘news’ at the end of the day.

John Campbell has done some very good stuff over the years but on his Live programme he’s also done a lot of lightweight stuff. Mostly fairly lightweight stuff as far as I’ve seen, and it obviously interests only a small and shrinking market segment.

Throng have a graph that illustrates declining audiences, especially compared to the competition:


That coincides with the cricket world cup but is a continuation of longer term decline.

I’ve never campaigned to keep Coronation Street on air here. And I won’t sign a Campbell Live petition. Instead I’ll scan the internet looking at all the indignation with some amusement.

It would be a bit sad to see Campbell Live killed, I guess, but I don’t really care very much.

Even when I ‘watch’ the ‘news’ these days I more often than not get distracted off it onto the internet, looking for more information about what they have covered. Or just getting bored with television.

With current affairs I want to see alternate coverage and varying points of views, not some package puffed up paff from one commercial channel.

Campbell Live and the news have become semi ‘reality’ television already. Formula stuff, repeated over and over with the only change being the amateur actors they use. Live crosses and interviews with witnesses etc frequently add nothing of substance to the coverage of news and turn me off.

I used to like DNTV2 news and  ‘The South Tonight’. Sometimes. But life goes on without them.

Finny on Fletcher

Charles Finny has responded to  Kiwiblog post  The Campbell Live Dotcom conspiracy episode with this comment:

Thank you for writing this piece David. The programme really got my blood boiling last night.

I am surprised that this multi-year research project did not throw up some other useful facts.

How about the fact that Ian Fletcher had signalled his willingness to return to NZ somewhat before the GCSB role came up. I think that you will find that he was interested in replacing Simon Murdoch as MFAT CEO and that he did rather well in that selection process. In the end John Allen came through, but the facts that Ian Fletcher was interested in a return, and that he was an obviously very strong candidate for a senior leadership role in the NZ public service were very much front of mind for people like Murdoch, Wevers, the State Services Commissioner, and externally focused Ministers. That he was thought of when GCSB came up is no surprise. It seemed totally logical. No conspiracy here whatsoever.

I am sure the fact that he had held a Top Secret security clearance in NZ and the UK for many years would have been helpful. That he had done a series of high profile jobs well in the UK, EU and Australia would likewise have been a factor.

The impression I had at the time was that a number of senior public servants were delighted that someone as good as Ian could be attracted back. The view seemed to be – let’s try him at GCSB and see where his career might lead.

I see nothing sinister in the GCSB Director being from a non-military background. GCSB began life as part of the military establishment, but the role has changed substantially. A non-military Director is all part of the growing up process. Ian’s background is perfect for the first non-military Director. He began professional life working with Foreign Affairs, serving one offshore posting. He then moved to DTI in the UK where he did a number of roles, most of which were external in focus. He was seconded into the EU’s DG Trade and again there did a core trade policy job. His background is perfect. There is no conspiracy.

Yes, Ian’s brother (who I also worked with for a few years in Wellington at DTI) was at school with John Key, and yes, John may have met Ian a few times as a result – both as a school kid, and adult. But so what?