Hard News by Russell Brown


TV: Fit and well?

When Jason Paris decamped in March from his transforming role as TVNZ's head of digital media and marketing to become CEO of MediaWorks TV – running TV3 and C4 -- it set the industry abuzz.

Now, as the broadcaster prepares to launch its new season offerings, Paris has been expressing confidence in the future of free-to-air television. In fact, as he declared at a recent industry confidence, "television has never been more popular."

For this week's Media7, we have Jason back in the building to talk about his new role and the state of TV.

Also, I interview former Melbourne Sun-Herald editor Bruce Guthrie about his sensational departure from the Murdoch fold, his new book, Man Bites Murdoch -- and the meaning of the Murdoch empire.

That empire has been headlines in Britain this week, as newspapers from the left and right, the BBC and Channel 4 lobby to have Murdoch's proposed takeover of BSkyB referred to the industry regulator.

If you'd like to come along to this evening's recording, we'll need you to come to the Victoria Street entrance of TVNZ by 5.30pm. As ever, drop me a line to say you're coming if possible.


I swear, my eyes brimmed as I read the opening paragraphs of the preface to Chris Bourke's new book Blue Smoke: The lost dawn of New Zealand popular music 1918-1964. Where he writes that his book looks not at "brass bands, bagpipers and choirs", but at "the evolution of [New Zealand] popular music as an industry: the changes in musical fashions, technology and social mores," I thought, yes, this is the book I want to read.

I'm sure my response last night was influenced by the Auckland launch for the book earlier in the evening. Chris spoke movingly about the work, and about the terrible loss of his great friend Ian Morris this past week, and we all sang 'Blue Smoke' and 'Hoki Mai' when he'd finished.

It felt like the room was full of legends – not only musicians, but the likes of Tom McWilliams: deputy editor of Playdate, New Zealand's first pop mag, friend of Monte Holcroft and the best sub-editor I've ever worked with.

I was talking with Rip It Up founder Murray Cammick when Tom came over, and Tom had a good story about Murray – "this precocious kid" from the eastern suburbs who petitioned "the white guys" at Playdate about the soul and R&B they should be paying attention to. And it worked: Tom ran a photo of Otis Redding the next month.

It was Murray who hired me, of course, and I felt like I connected like this all over the room. I was also put in mind of Sir Keith Sinclair's observation that "it's a bugger being old – but it's been fun getting there."

One musician who started playing in dance bands around the time that Chris's book ends had a good story about his mum and dad, 10 years earlier: they'd get dressed up and go out dancing. And one day in the sixties, as he immersed himself in The Who and the pop culture that came with them, he remembered asking: "What's that, Mum?" as she prepared to go dancing. The answer: "It's a pep pill, dear."

Sometimes you really do think there's nothing new under the sun.

Anyway, I'm delighted to say that next week on Media7 we'll have Chris Bourke, alongside Nick Dwyer, who has a second series of the remarkable Making Tracks set to air on the 26th. It should be very fine.

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