Seven Sharp wants a new and young audience to sell to advertisers but instead older viewers are tuning out and younger viewers don't want a diet of news lite, banal chat and lame jokes
TVNZ's attempt to turn news and current affairs into a breezy and light entertainment show looks as if it has hit the iceberg of viewer discontent although the crew say they aren't about to abandon the good ship Seven Sharp yet. But the life jackets are on standby.
In the fortnight since the show first aired Seven Sharp has been losing viewers at a rate even the most optimistic of us probably didn't even hope for. On Friday it attracted fewer than half the people who watched the show eleven days earlier. It was beaten again in the all the important ratings by Campbell Live for the second time in a week.
More than half of One News viewers changed channels rather than watch Seven Sharp. You can imagine the scene in living rooms up and down the country: 'It's that bloody show again. Where's the remote?
Of course TVNZ have publicly dismissed the ratings carnage as a mere hiccup but you can bet some highly paid TVNZ executives will be sweating over these figures, finger poised over the 'Panic ' button. TVNZ can and does ignore the critical lambasting it gets for its crap shows but screening a crap show and getting crap ratings is the double whammy.
But TVNZ are putting a brave face on it - just like they did when they said they weren't going to sack Paul Henry.
According to spokesperson Megan Richards: "Seven Sharp is a long-term proposition that recognises the fact traditional current affairs - on any channel - is not thriving in a media environment where the primary competitor these days is actually YouTube."
Actually Seven Sharp is failing because it has alienated a large swathe of its older audience but has failed to attract the younger audience that its advertisers are keen to bash over the head with more asinine commercials.
Some commentators have suggested that tweaking the format might help but I don't think that a show that so blatantly defined by commercial considerations has got much of a hope.
The corporate media, when its not trying tell us what to think, is trying to sell us stuff.
Seven Sharp is all about shifting stuff for its advertisers. I resent that the former national public broadcaster has sunk to a new low that now sees the marketing division having an input into the content of this 'news' show.
If you are in the right age demographic (ie not old) then you are Seven Sharp's product. They want to sell you to advertisers and they think they can do that with the lightweight pap they are serving up five nights a week. The constant calls by Ali and her two mates for us to 'interact' with the show via social media is merely an invite for us to play an active role in our own commodification.
So it is a cause for celebration that people have walked away from this show. But, I must confess, it is also a small and perhaps pyrrhic victory when we consider that the combined efforts of both Labour and National Government's have helped destroy public broadcasting in this country.