Axe set to fall on Close Up

Mark Sainsbury
Mark Sainsbury
TV One's top-rating current affairs show Close Up is set to be axed by the end of the year, and a "fresh" show is tipped to replace it.

A press release issued this morning said TVNZ was "proposing" to wind down Close Up, which has been hosted by Mark Sainsbury in TV One's 7pm slot since 2006.

NZ Herald media commentator John Drinnan predicted the changes in July, and TVNZ Head of News and Current Affairs Ross Dagan said they were being made as a response to viewer feedback.

"Close Up remains the number one daily current affairs show by a substantial margin, but ratings for us and for our competitors in this important time slot have diminished over time," he said.

"We're committed to staying at the forefront of what New Zealanders want to see and we owe it to them and to ourselves to continually evolve and enhance television current affairs.

"We want to reinvent the early evening slot, to present the stories of the day in a way that is very different to what has gone before."

Dagan said Close Up's format had "run its course".

"Everyone on the show is aware that traditional current affairs formats are losing favour with audiences, and this team has set the bar for what's possible. However despite the efforts of a group of very talented people, and a degree of success, the company's view is that this format has simply run its course.

He praised Sainsbury's performance over the past few years.

"As presenter Mark Sainsbury has done a fine job and has earned a deserved place in television history through his coverage of some of the most significant issues in New Zealand's recent past."

Close Up has been running for nearly eight years and is in direct competition to TV3's Campbell Live. Last night's episode was the fourth most-watched show on TV with 474,000 viewers, Throng.co.nz reported. Campbell Live had 283,210 viewers.

Details about the proposed revamp weren't released, but staff were being consulted and an outcome was due in mid-October.

A Facebook post by TVNZ asked viewers what kind of current affairs show they'd like to see in the 7pm slot.

The first reply suggested, "One with Paul Henry in it," while the second said, "One without Mark Sainsbury".