Saturday, June 27, 2009

TV in New Zealand

The weather has been awful this last week and the girls have both had snotty noses and nasty colds. This has led to us all being in the house a lot more than usual and we have ended up watching far more telly than I would have liked!

I can now officially say that I really miss the BBC. One of the most annoying things is the fact that you can't watch a programme for more than 10 minutes without it being interrupted by adverts. To be fair we only have the TV channels available on Freeview, as we used to in the UK, so I do not know if there are some amazing programmes that we are missing available on the various subscription packages such as Sky.

We have the Television New Zealand (TVNZ) channels that are free to air. These consist of TV One, TV2, TVNZ6 and TVNZ 7. We also receive the fully commercial channels TV 3 and C4. TVNZ is a government owned corporation television network. Around ninety percent of its funding is from commercials and merchandising and the rest from the government. This makes it rather different from the BBC and it offers far more commercial and rating grabbing content (light entertainment, overseas programming and reality TV shows). The schedules are full of American sitcom repeats (Friends and Two and a Half men), soap operas (Shortland Street and Coronation Street) and reality TV (Grand designs and Shipwrecked). Some of the programmes are unbelievably old and things I haven't seen since I was a child. I remember watching the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" when I was a growing up and "Home Improvement" which is shown at 5pm on weekdays must be over fifteen years old.

However having discussed this with my other half he concludes that he would much rather watch TV on a Saturday night over here than what is likely to be on BBC1 and 2 in the UK. They do have some good new films on in the evenings and they have many American shows like "Lost" (how I hate that programme!), "Greys Anatomy" and "Desperate Housewives". They also show some other good dramas and mini-series from overseas but very little made in New Zealand.

There are some documentaries and I was really pleased to spot Louis Theroux's Wierd Weekends is being repeated, and some of the local documentaries and arty type programmes are quite interesting. There are also a lot of the more sensational documentaries made by Channel 4 in the UK reappearing over here. Programmes on "Extreme Plastic Surgery" and the child preachers in America

I honestly never thought I would admit this but I really miss Cbeebies. It was a nice safe channel I could put on for the girls and not worry about it. There are no adverts and the programmes were vaguely educational. Over here on TVNZ 6 they have children's programmes until 4pm everyday, which unusually don't have any adverts in between them. A lot of these programmes seem to have originated in the UK, like Postman Pat and the Numberjacks for example, but they clearly do not have as much money to spend on kids programming as the BBC. There is one particularly annoying programme called "Party Animals" with 4 alien teddy bear creatures and a very annoying theme tune which the girls inexplicably love. But then I have to remember that the programmes are not aimed at thirty somethings!

There is only one poor bloke presenting the children's programmes daily from the early hours of the morning until 4pm. He obviously does not have any sort of life and spends his days pretending to be a robot and various animals in between introducing the programmes. Actually it looks like quite a cushy job!

There is very little home grown content and I don't understand why this is. There is plenty of Kiwi talent out there. Flight of the Chonchords is a good example of this but I can't see any sign of them or many other home grown shows on the Freeview channels, and this is a great shame. I can only conclude that people in New Zealand don't watch as much TV as we do in the UK. Which really is not such a bad thing!


  1. We watch TV from the BBC and Channel 4 using a proxy server in the UK. This means that it thinks you are in the UK and can live stream or download the programmes over the internet. I can't remember when I last watched live kiwi tv - we record everything as I can't bear the adverts. Since we probably only watch an hour a day apart from the news its nice to be able to choose a programme you're truly going to enjoy.

  2. Thanks DE. We did think of using a proxy server but our PC has sufferred some kind of fatal error and is refusing to start up at the moment. So until we get that sorted we are stuck using my laptop which is not ideal to watch my beloved Dr Who! But once its fixed we will try that.

  3. Since we lived here before we knew how bad the TV was (though I accept you've been far more generous about it than I ever could be.)

    So we don't watch any. We have screen and a DVD player and spend a lot at the local DVD library. The kids borrow a film a week ($4) and don't miss telly one bit it seems.

    I did try DomEx's proxy server but found it too slow for BBC iplayer so didn't ever get a subscription. (maybe I should have downloaded rather than stream)