Political Content on TV

In critically analysing the New Zealand TV1 Tonight late news broadcast I suspect I will find a lot of structure to it that applies to most New Zealand news broadcasting. Structure on our public news broadcasts is adhered to so as to provide the public with what they want to see. The structure means that the public generally is guaranteed to get a little bit of everything and to a degree know that this is the case. Structure in news keeps a niche audience loyal as well. When you know what the news is like and like it, you tend to go back as you like the presenters, layout, familiarity and the viewpoints of that particular news broadcast. When in regards to the TV1 Tonight late news broadcast there are a lot of characteristics and familiar structure employed that sets it aside from other national news broadcasts and makes it a little different and therefore appealing to a certain group of people. The sometimes very laid-back mannerisms and traits of the late TV1 news appeal to a certain type of audience who prefer to, or are only able to, watch news later at night, 10:40pm.

The structure of the TV1 Tonight news is fairly strictly adhered to in order to fill the half hour segment of the nights viewing with stories that people are interested in. There are a number of conclusions that can be arrived at when analyzing the structure of the Tonight news show. The show concentrates mainly on national news issues, with around 75% of them being local news or directly affecting New Zealand or New Zealanders. The shows opening teasers with Eric Young and Kate Hawkesby, outlines five news stories of which the first four were always local news every day of the five days analysed. Only on two days of the period 30th March to 2nd April was the last teaser an overseas story, but both times a music story. The first three stories that appear in the teasers are always local serious news with articles like the Project Aqua failure (Tonight 30/3/04), the Lesley Martin Euthanasia case (Tonight 31/3/04) and the tragic death of Michael King (Tonight 31/3/04). The other two opening teasers are generally a little more cheerful one of which is always a New Zealand interest story, like the inaugural national cheese champs (Tonight 31/3/04), and the last always being a music story, local artist like DJ Soane (Tonight 1/4/04) or an overseas artist like the English Beatles impersonator (Tonight 30/3/04).

The first article of the main body of the news was always a local news story and was also always the first news item to be teased at the start of the show. A serious tone is generally taken for most of the first 5-8 articles before the first ad break. These are almost all always local stories, with the exception of the 29th of March and the 1st of April where an international story appeared in the

first block of news stories, like the death of actor/comedian Peter Ustinov (Tonight 29/3/04). The first article in the Tonight news show is always a long serious one, like for example, the Nelson by-

election over Nick Smith’s comments (Tonight 2/4/04). The first block of news stories on the Tonight news show usually has a mix of about 60-40, long-short length articles. The 1st April’s article lengths went a long story on the legality of the New Zealand Maori rugby team, a short one on a cyclist hit and run incident, Ahmed Zaoui case – long, internet kidnapping of a man – long, rescue attempt of an injured sailor – short, etc. Probably the most interesting aspect of the first block of the Tonight news is the fact that the last story just before the first ad break was the most casual, non-controversial story of the news so far. With articles like a pub owner in Thames not allowing under 21’s into his pubs because they cause trouble (Tonight 30/3/04), or a team entering the New Zealand Air Race losing their sponsorship (Tonight 1/4/04). These last news stories although somewhat of a serious nature were always reported with a casual undertone, with the reporter keeping it lighthearted and interesting