Why Paul Henry is destroying TVNZ Breakfast and what TVNZ Breakfast needs to do



Love him or hate him, Paul Henry is a very funny and talented broadcaster. Yes his foaming right wing nonsense is a major problem in a media landscape as tiny as NZ, and he is certainly part of the problem when neoliberal mythology is regurgitated as ‘common sense’ – but you have to give the devil his due, he knows how to do an impressive Breakfast show.

And it’s working. TV3 have been killing it in the Breakfast ratings stakes because The Paul Henry Show is a far crisper, news oriented and sharper product. TVNZ Breakfast on the other hand is a coma bound dullness only useful for babysitting toddlers.

Rushing in Hillary and Jack is a stupid move made by a management team who have no idea what Breakfast is supposed to be and they simply hope two new presenters will be enough to stop the ratings decline.

It won’t.

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What TVNZ need to do is actually step away from the complex and over managed straightjacket that they manage to suffocate anything worthwhile with and allow Breakfast TVNZ to be the counter to what Paul Henry is doing.

The Polls point to a shift in allegiances politically, and Breakfast should follow that. What is it that Paul Henry doesn’t do? His show is a right wing platform, look at his panelists, they are all right wing. His topics and the way he approaches them are right wing. In Jack and Hillary you have two liberal personas who could do what Paul Henry does, but from a far more progressive perspective.

It’s just market dynamics. Why doesn’t Radio Live rate well against ZB? Because ZB and Radio Live are both competing for the same right wing talkback audience. Why does Radio NZ dominate? Because they offer the market a different perspective from the right wing one that ZB and Radio Live produce.

If TVNZ wants Breakfast to rate, they need to give the market a product that isn’t currently being filled. A left wing progressive Breakfast Show doesn’t exist, Breakfast TVNZ could be that.

It’s always surprised me that the idea of actually providing the audience with an alternative perspective to the one that everyone else is using seems so startling to these broadcasters.



  1. Mainstream media CANNOT provide significant authentic news nor meaningful commentary because to do so would destroy the business model within a week.

    The advertisers’ dollars continue to rule the roost because they must.

  2. Paul Henry is permitted to say what he wants warts and all and he does most of the time TV one Breakfast staff are controlled by our authoritative ruling government

    • Yes Michelle and by SS Joyce our own replication of Joseph Goebbels from circa 1932 Germany.
      I wished TVNZ would just do us taxpayers proud and tell the truth for a chance instead of shinning the national Party’s boots.!!!!

  3. His ratings high – shows how lacking we are in good quality journalism and how desperate and bored many are.
    His ratings high – is embarrassing to those who value fair and honest reporting and info-tainment news shows. No wonder the aussies are glad to be rid of him. I disagree in that I feel that Channel one needs to offer new commentators and more interesting material and maybe a different setting.
    Please retire the woman on that Breakfast show – boring and more like a teenager in training than a knowledgeable journo.
    Channel one needs to broaden its horizon and get advice from those past ( retired ) NZ journalists who can offer some good ideas and plans.

    Paul is obviously a mouth piece for the Natz. and I bet if you ask those who have worked with him and those who currently do, I bet if they were really honest, they would concur what a pompous fool he is. They just tolerate him rather than enjoy/like him.

    He did a piece on his moms rest home and the workers there did not like him at all. He was his usual rude and insulting self to them. Recently David Icke walked out for very good reasons. Though Paul thinks he has an open mind, he does not most of the time and he was rude; insulting and judgmental to David and he just walked out and congratulations on David for standing firm on principles.
    Then, afterwards, Paul smeared David with more lies and outright slander, what an a____ and a massive blame-shifter Paul is.

    Wish Paul would retire but his greed and ego are so gynormous that it won’t happen soon.
    This also shows the compromised mental capacity and immature mentality of many TV watchers in the a.m. who tune into his nonsense and massive ego. We must be pretty bored indeed.

  4. “TVNZ Breakfast on the other hand is a coma bound dullness only useful for babysitting toddlers.”

    I’ve only watched it a couple of times at my daughter’s place, otherwise I’m a RNZ/Morning Report loyal fan. But from what little I saw, there is good reason why the show is dying in the ratings. To call it garbage would denigrate garbage.

    The best term I can come up with is it’s a POINTLESS EXERCISE.

  5. Come on Martyn, that’s never going to happen while the MSM is in the pay of its right wing paymasters. Henry is a shock jock and is paid to be just that, and I agree he is a very clever interviewer but his show is being played to a captive audience. Some of my friends are very left wing but still think he is weird and wacky and that’s what sells him.

    John Campbell was axed from MSM and there will never be a full on wacky left wing duo allowed on our screens while the MSM is owned by right wing moguls. Jack Tame and Hilary Barry will do what they’re paid to do just like the current affairs show TV1 puts on at the weekend Q & A.

    Most of The Nation and Q & A these days is a waste of time watching. We need a very wealthy left wing media guru to start up a brand new channel but pigs will fly too. The only new channels we get these days is home renovations and fashion go figure – just more junk to dumb down the viewers.

  6. I think this is a great idea!

    A left wing breakfast show would be a close fit viewing demographic – those who aren’t on their way to work when it’s being aired. 😉

    • And the bosses who arrive well after the workers also take time to watch /waste feeding their mythical ideology.

      • Looks at polls showing right wing consumers watching breakfast shows till 12am. Typical Andrew rhetoric, just make stuff up as usual

  7. When a left wing media blog is describing the current media landscape you should be concerned I will start listening to media commentary when journalists not personalities start reading the news at about the same time that they start driving sodas instead of porches. I mean how dull all this crap is.

  8. Ground control to Martin Bradbury — A left wing show on TVNZ ! In the words of the Everly Brothers Dream dream dream dream.

  9. What I would want from TVNZ and their breakfast show is that they finally start reporting on topics and issues that actually matter to people and that affect people in a wider sense, not weather porn, chit chat, VIP interviews, silly panel discussions and so much sports.

    If we had something similar to Morning Report on RNZ made for TV audiences there may be an increase in viewers, as they then know where to get information from, while Henry will present his version of a commercial filled silly show with a right leaning commentary.

  10. Breakfast is so banal. I can’t even watch it. I like Hilary but it’s not enough. Still no diversity. Same show with a different presenter won’t make any difference.

  11. I think you are being way too kind to the prick, Martyn.
    He is only funny if you are into racist and sexist comparisons, right-wing pat-yourself-on-the-back hoopla and schoolboy smut.
    Paul Henry is totally up himself, considers himself more important than the things and people he talks about.
    New Zealand’s Rush Limbaugh.
    No wonder the Aussie’s kicked him out and sent him back here, they couldn’t stand the d… either.

  12. Correct me if I am wrong but I remember Labour being slated by critics for letting public broadcasting go down the gurgler .What we have now is exactly what we were well warned about…… absolute crap, and even national radio is in rapid decline. I can’t see Mr Natlite fixing it either!

  13. I don’t think left/right differentiation is what is needed here. Henry is popular because he is entertaining. When TV1 put on decent entertainment with a bit of weather and travel thrown in, they will get the viewers. Anyone interested in real news will be sourcing it elsewhere anyway.

  14. Paul Henry represents everything that is grubby and nasty about neoliberalism. Trumpeted from the Beehive since 1984, “trickle down theory”, whereby if a country taxes the rich less, if a country sells off all state-owned assets to be run more efficiently by private enterprise, then a glorious kingdom awaits the lower and middle classes. This tripe ranks up there with the tooth fairy and is the capitalist version of religious misogyny, whereby 74 virgins lustily await dead suicide bombers. In other words, utter bullshit.

    with the heading “You’re witnessing the death of neoliberalism – from within” and penned by Aditya Chakrabortty

    This Guardian article dispels the neoliberal turd, that has been sprinkled in glitter, and is being constantly promoted by TVNZ’s gobshites like Paul Henry.

  15. Never going to happen Martyn. All the good quality ; open minded shows worth watching are a thing of the past here in NZ.
    All the journos worth their salt have mostly all left TV for greener and healthier pastures in radio etc.

    We used to have some great programs but the idiots in charge of Channel one and Channel three are all about money and ratings and to hell with quality programming that inspires and educates.

    Now we have useless fluffy shows keeping the masses brain dead and fearful and bored. That’s the plan. Be complacent and inactive and just be good little workers in the machine.

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