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Shortland Street

Shortland Street under review: what we know so far

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NZ television’s longest running soap drama faces an uncertain future with TVNZ having confirmed that Shortland Street is under review.

Despite the show having been a staple and produced local talent including Temuera Morrison, KJ Apa, Martin Henderson and Thomasin McKenzie, its viewer numbers have been declining.

Why is the programme under threat?

The linear television model relies on advertising revenue to keep it going, and lately fewer businesses have been spending on ads.

A TVNZ spokesperson said the network was having to consider Shortland Street’s “commercial viability”.

283D9C5E712D49D588330A92C011F026Tatum Warren-Ngata as Stella on Shortland Street
SUPPLIED / THE TV GUIDE

“Like many businesses across Aotearoa, the current recessionary environment is having a big impact on TVNZ,” they said.

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“There’s less advertising revenue going around as businesses tighten their belts, and that makes it increasingly difficult to fund our programming.”

How long have we got left?

It may not be that much longer.

The production company behind the show, South Pacific Pictures, said it had “been in conversations [with TVNZ] for a while,” about its renewal.

Meanwhile, chief executive Kelly Martin said the show had not been produced “as far in advance as I would like“.

“It’s definitely something that’s up for discussion and I don’t know what the outcome of those discussions would be,” she said.

Could it be saved?

The show has so far been fully funded by TVNZ. However, Government grants through the New Zealand on Air are regularly doled to support the creation of local content.

How much that fund has to give out to local producers and what its priorities might be is decided by the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media.

C1EEB4C2151B4B16AF2F12201A03F979There have been more than 7600 episodes of Shortland Street.
SOUTH PACIFIC PICTURES / (NO SOURCE)

The portfolio is held by Melissa Lee. It’s been reported she has a broad proposal on NZ media in the works, but it has been held up while Winston Peters is overseas.

Asked if she could save the media industry, Lee said: “I don’t think I can save anything. I’m the Minister for Media and Communications. What I can do is provide a level playing field so that media can be more sustainable, modernise and innovate”.

Should it be saved?

When Shortland Street was founded back in the 1990s, the show used to pull in close to half a million viewers per episode.

That justified the the cost of producing it, which is reportedly in the tens of millions of dollars.

Last year, it was reported that as few as 79,000 viewers aged 25-54 tuned in on the television.

But, the programme has also been a hit on streaming platform TVNZ+, at one time pulling in 455,000 streams a week.

Is this the only programme on the chopping block?

Not even close.

TVNZ has already cancelled news programmes Sunday, Fair Go, Midday and Tonight.

A spokesperson also told Stuff that none of its programmes were safe.

“We need to look at everything across our slate to ensure we remain commercially viable,” they said.

Meanwhile, it’s rival Newshub is set to close its entire news operation in July.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/
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