Industry Politics Undermine Underbelly NZ’s Roll-out

Pressure by NZ On Air and the production community has compromised TV3’s premiere of Underbelly NZ: Land of the Long Green Cloud.

The six-part dramatisation of the real Mr Asia story was to debut next Wednesday, opposite TV One’s Nothing Trivial.

But objections by NZOA, which spent nearly $11 million on both productions, and programme makers who don’t want publicly funded dramas facing off against one another have forced its rescheduling to 9.30pm Wednesdays from August 17.

On the surface, even though there’s a clear choice between watching a female-skewed comedy/drama or a male-skewed true-crime thriller, that would seem a commonsense solution — if it weren’t at viewers’ expense.

TV3’s programming strategy was masterful: with Rocked the Nation 3 – 100 NZ Sporting Moments as the 7.30pm lead-in, and the season-finale of the high-rating Sons of Anarchy as the lead-out, Underbelly NZ would have been a hit from the outset.

The line-up also would have optimised TV3’s new HD period gangster drama, The Borgias, which has been sitting on the shelf waiting for just such an inspired showcasing.

Now, because of interference from bureaucrats and producers, TV3 has had to revamp its schedule at the risk of confusing viewers about when a high-profile NZ drama’s going to launch — most of the magazine and newspaper weekly TV guides will have been printed ahead of the 11th-hour change — and undermining Underbelly NZ’s ratings prospects.

It should still rate well at 9.30, appealing to the same audience as Sons of Anarchy, but both it and Rocked the Nation 3, which will now air at 8.30, will have their potential compromised by an hour of reality bilge (Destroyed in Seconds, Your Worst Animal Nightmares) at 7.30pm.

What could have been two hours of top-rating NZ content now risks being sabotaged by industry politics and TVNZ seizing the initiative to beef up TV One’s 9.30pm Wednesday slot while an outstanding international HD drama has become a casualty of the debacle that’s cast a long grey pall over broadcaster independence.

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3 Responses to “Industry Politics Undermine Underbelly NZ’s Roll-out”

  1. Wonder why TVNZ wasn’t pressured into moving their programming??

  2. Presumably because Nothing Trivial has already been airing for several weeks in that timeslot.

  3. Haven’t the time or patience to watch anything “Trivial”. Rather remain unaware of NZ’s ugly underbelly. Was looking forward to seeing a long awaited, high quality drama (Few and too far between with the current high fat diet of cooking programmes and overdose of Reality – where’s the entertainment in that?). Best escape into a good book then!

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