Can Andrew Szusterman save MediaWorks at 7pm?




Next to Andrew Shaw, Andrew Szusterman is probably one of the best Executive Producers in the NZ industry.  I’ve known Szusty since Channel Z days when he was our station manager.

Szusterman is to MediaWorks what Steven Joyce is to the National Party, their Mr Fixit.

And doesn’t Szusterman have a lot to fix.

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Like it or not, MediaWorks takes up a huge space in the media landscape and if they are as petty and shallow as Seven Sharp, we get an electorate of braindead zombies, so what Szusterman can do at 7pm matters, especially with the election next year.

I’ve hosted and produced a weekday 7pm current affairs show, Waatea 5th Estate for 7 months (we are waiting to hear back from NZ on Air for funding for next year) so am well aware of how hard you have to work to make current affairs accessible and popular. We out trended Story on Twitter ever single week we ran and they even ended up copying our Friday night panel show for Christ’s sake, so I come from a place of understanding as Szusterman plans out the new 7pm current affairs vehicle for MediaWorks and I’ve listed some of the challenges Szusterman faces.

The new format will be a mix of the Tonight show with the Daily Show – which is going to be an incredible challenge because our standard for political satire is bloody 7 Days. Fart and dick jokes aren’t going to make this show work. The Project in Australia is pretty sophisticated and bloody smart, unfortunately we have a pretty shallow pool to work with in NZ.

HOSTS: The 3 hosts have to work well together on screen and they actually have to be pretty smart and knowledgeable about politics.

Jono & Beno – Is that their names? Look lovely blokes and great for late night shenanigans, but you can’t really do satire about the hegemonic structures of society when both you hosts have no idea what the words, ‘hegemonic’, ‘society’ or ‘of’ are.

Russel Brown – Incredibly intelligent but with all the on screen dynamism of concrete setting. Better suited for a late night slot that no one watches – when does Media Take play on Maori TV?

Anika Moa – Choice as and with enough mana to take real stands on issues.

Guy Williams – His last venture into 7pm was a train wreck, but he is loved and adored and he’s done enough shit work on the bloody Edge to get some type of upgrade at MediaWorks.

Laura Daniel – Very smart and very funny, she’s got the intellect and wit to make an excellent host.

Ali Ikram – One of the best and most loved reporters MediaWorks ever had. He has a huge juicy brain and was easily one of the brightest people TV3 ever employed.

Matt Heath & Jeremy Wells – If there was a God, these two would get the job. They are so funny on Hauraki, making them the best commercial breakfast in the country. Intelligent with a no bullshit attitude, they would be amazing hosts for this show. Unfortunately MediaWorks limits itself to  people working in their media stable and with them both on the opposition radio station, it’s unlikely.

Oliver Driver – He was an amazing political interviewer when he was on air. Off air a train wreck, but on air great.

PRODUCERS: Incredibly important role that will be the decider between critical success and another flop.

This role tends to go to graduates with a social media following of 1500 twitter followers. They pollute news rooms like chlamydia these days and is the reason why stories like ‘you aren’t wiping your bottom properly’ appear on the NZ Herald website with such regularity.

The best bet here would be Dita De Boni who has just left TVNZ.

CONTENT: It has to be smart, funny and terrifying to the establishment. You want to be able to take interviews and stories and put them up online to go viral because the quality is that good. There was nothing Story did this year that was worthwhile putting up online. This will act as an advert every night for the show itself.

PANELISTS: Where so many of the panel shows in NZ fall over is the recycling of the same tired voices who have nothing to actually contribute to the debate. Christ almighty the Story Friday Panel Show had as much charm as teeth being pulled.


The madness of killing off Campbell Live for Story and now having to kill Story off because it’s dreadful means Szusterman has to fix the 7pm timeslot not just for the good of the MediaWorks network, but for the good of NZ.



  1. And the other huge problem is that they are, or seem to be, in the pocket of the Nat’s. So what is it going to be? Nice jokes about key and the bloody Nats. Whilst slagging off labour and the greens mercilessly..

  2. I. Am. So. F*****g. Over. Mediaworks. 7pm. Timeslot.

    No, really, I am.

    Mediaworks execs treated viewers with contempt over the John Campbell affair and now they’re surprised that nothing works for them at 7pm?!?!

    Well, here’s a message for Mediaworks execs; if you treat your audience with utter contempt, then why the hell would you expect those same viewers to trust you with anything else?

    Rule #1 of capitalism: the Customer is always right.

    Rule 2: If in doubt, refer to Rule 1 above.

    Thems not my rules – thems what capitalism; the free market; commerce; the retail industry, etc, etc, has continually pounded into our heads as we’ve been told to become Good Little Unquestioning Consumers.

    Well fuck it sideways and with a cherry on top. I’ve taken “my viewing business” elsewhere.

    If Mediaworks wants my eyeballs at 7pm, here’s a hint; don’t dismiss us viewers. Treat us with respect.

    Because this still applies, even though it’s decades old;

    Remember Me?

    I’m the person who goes into a restaurant, sits down and waits patiently while the waiters and waitresses do everything except take my order.

    I’m the person who goes into a department store and stands quietly while the sales clerks stock shelves, dust the counters or finish their little chit-chats with each other.

    I’m the person who telephones to place an order, am placed on hold, then is completely forgotten about.

    I’m the person who drives up to the full-service pump at a service station and has to ask to get my windows cleaned and my oil checked.

    Yes, you may say that I’m a nice person because I don’t get upset or complain about the discourtesy, thoughtlessness, and inconsideration that I’m subjected to merely because I want to spend my money with you.

    I want you to know, however, that I’m also a person who never comes back.

    It amuses me that you spend thousands of dollars in advertising every year to get me into your businesses when I was there in the first place. Wouldn’t it have been smarter just to give me a little service and show me a little common courtesy while I was there so that you could keep me from going somewhere else?

    That applies to Mediaworks.

    And it really pisses me off that a leftie like me has to remind corporations like Mediaworks on Capitalism 101.

  3. Dying breath of a cocaine addict it seems.

    Bloody kill the channel and restore some real public issues and long reach investigative journalism like Martyn, Frank, Chris, Jane, and others know how to do and I will then watch it again.

    Today I have never watched TV3 for months.

  4. Martyn. I love the way you care enough about NZ’s future to rail against Media Works, the NZ Herald and all the politicians that perform below par. I for one have given up on the local media except The Daily Blog.

  5. I don’t much care how they re-gig the 7pm slot. Sacking Patrick Gower is a first and necessary step TV3 have to undertake before they can entice me to ever watch again.

    • Mike and Tony are bloody awfull and it would be hard to do worse, but how about some incisive investigative stories about shit that Matters? Australia can do it, but obviously, in my humble opinion, the establishment won’t allow biting criticism of the establishment or even intelligent insights.

  6. Yawn, Media works in desperation, I suppose.

    I thought the newest versions of today’s Muppet’s Show were boredcast on TV1 and TV3 with their ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Paul Henry Breakfast’ shows.

    What Muppet Show will beat that at 7pm?

    You have to go hyper on drugs to put up with worse than the breakfast shows, and dumb most already are, due to the brainless media diet we have, even the comedy is stuff I can no longer laugh about, as it is a comedy of comedy, truly farcical, all that I have observed.

    More reasons to avoid the 7pm slot, I usually use it to watch the delay channels with news, that I may have missed the hour before. All else is a waste of time, and by the sounds of it will be a waste of time to come.

    Come 8 pm I watch Al Jazeera news, often with live and breaking news, from the real sources overseas, be they a bit biased on Mid East politics, at least they make an effort to report on stuff that we hardly ever see and hear on our “news”.

    Bring back Waatea 5th Estate, please, and if it deserves public funding, which I think (may come with some strings attached), sign a deal, to get it running, please.

  7. One thing I think the Spinoff got right; public funding for making quality multimedia work (whether in journalism or entertainment) should not be tied to commercial broadcasting platforms, whether private (eg TV3) or publicly-owned (eg TVNZ). The funding should go directly to the media makers, on the condition they CreativeCommons license their work, and make it available graits (free of charge) online. Publicly-owned media platforms should be obliged to feature such work on their platforms where appropriate (eg playing TV shows, films, and music videos on TVNZ, playing radio documentaries, and music on RadioNZ), and to inform their audience about it and where it can be found (online and elsewhere).

    Relying on corporate-owned, private media platforms to provide quality journalism is relying on Fox News or to provide fair and balanced coverage. The same is true of quality literature and even decent light entertainment. Crowdfunding platforms like our own PledgeMe are doing their best to fill the gap. They struggle to big projects like TV series or feature films, but maybe a similar, democratic platform for dishing out public media funding managed by the NZ state could be the way to go? Not sure what PledgeMe uses under the hood, but there are fully free code (“open source”) crowdfunding platforms like Goteo and decision-making platforms like Loomio that could be stitched together by public service IT people?

  8. So Andrew Szusterman has been brought in to clean up the mess left by Mark Weldon and his little helper, Julie Christie? Good luck with that. Personally, I think TV3’s brand gas been badly damaged by Weldon and Christie’s incompetence and would take a major turn around to fix it.

    Meanwhile I’ll stick to John Campbell on Radio NZ, thank you very muchly.

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