'Close Up' makes way for new show

Pippa Wetzell and Paul Henry pictured in Queenstown during their time on Breakfast. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
Pippa Wetzell and Paul Henry pictured in Queenstown during their time on Breakfast. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
The replacement for Close Up will be a magazine show with two presenters - and Pippa Wetzell and Paul Henry are understood to be the hot favourites.

A confidential brief circulating at TVNZ says the focus will be on the "talking point of the day" and a mixture of news and entertainment.

But a journalism commentator said it would be "Breakfast at dinner-time" and showed the broadcaster's lack of commitment to strong current affairs.

Inside TVNZ, it was no secret the network had been courting Wetzell and it wanted to give the well-liked presenter a prominent role next year.

It was understood there had been meetings between executives and Wetzell.

It is not known whether Henry was included in these, though the two are known to be friends outside of work.

A TVNZ source familiar with the show's proposal said there would be a big emphasis on lighter items and the programme would not be shy of "having fun".

In the statement announcing Close Up's axing on Thursday, TVNZ head of news and current affairs Ross Dagan said the network wanted 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".

Associate professor of journalism at the University of Canterbury Jim Tully said Close Up had not been presenting itself as a "hard-hitting" current affairs programme for some time.

"But it sounds as if the format is going to be something that is lighter and more infotainment than what we might think of as a strong current affairs package coming at the end of the news," Mr Tully said. Wetzell did not return calls last night and Henry could not be reached for comment.

News hour needs revamp

The so-called TVNZ network news is full of sport! The format should be changed to 30 minutes of news/weather, 30 minutes of in-depth discussion of day's events, followed by a separate sports news in present Close Up slot.

Short snappy news and weather would suit many busy people who frequently go out in the evening. The deceased TVNZ 7 had the right formula but this does not suit commercial television who make big bucks out of frequent commercial breaks in a drawn-out dreary presentation

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