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Heather du Plessis-Allan: Is Shortland Street in trouble?

Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 11 Apr 2024, 5:03PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Is Shortland Street in trouble?

Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 11 Apr 2024, 5:03PM

Shortland Street is now apparently in trouble. TVNZ has just confirmed it is reviewing whether it carries on with Shortland Street.

It's still a popular show, but unfortunately it's very expensive to make and very expensive for TVNZ to buy.

And given TV audiences are down to about a third of what they were about 15, 25 years ago -it won’t be bringing in the advertising dollars it used to.

It's not always obvious, when you're in the middle of a moment in history, just how important that moment is. Sometimes it only occurs to you afterward, when you look back, just how much changed at that moment.

New Zealand is in a moment like that.

We are eradicating in the next few weeks some of the biggest TV shows that we make in New Zealand- about New Zealand.

Newshub, the AM Show, Ryan Bridge’s due-to-be-launched 7 o'clock show, Newshub Nation, Paddy Gower Has Issues, Newshub late, Sunday, Fair Go, the TVNZ midday bulletin, the TVNZ late news and maybe even Shortland Street now- or maybe reducing how much it plays out in a week.

And look, that doesn't mean there are no New Zealand-made TV shows left. There's still Seven Sharp, Motorway Patrol, The Casketeers- the list goes on.

But the dynamics that are killing those other shows at the moment will, in the end, probably get the rest of them too. And what that means is that we see less and less of ourselves as Kiwis on screen.

And that is a loss, because there is consensus that hearing and seeing your culture and your accent and your way of life reflected back to you on screen is affirming. It makes you proud of who you are.

So remember this- because this isn’t just another day in the media sector. This isn’t normal, what's happening right now.

In this moment of time, we are losing something we will probably never get back to the same extent, which is hours of Kiwi voices and faces on screen every day.

And kids being born right now will probably grow up pretty much exclusively watching international content and hardly any New-Zealand made content.

I'm not arguing this should be stopped. Frankly, if we want to keep New Zealand on screens, we need shows that New Zealanders want to watch, and that's clearly not happening.

I'm just pointing out this is a big thing - and an unusual thing - that is happening right now.


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