Qantas Film and Television Awards 2009

by Jake Quinn

This years Qantas film and television awards were held over the weekend. The big winner was TV ONE, which picked up Best News, Best News or Current Affairs Presenter, both Best Current Affairs Reporting categories (daily show/weekly show), Best Current Affairs Series, Investigation of the Year, Journalist of the Year as well a range of other categories. The full list of winners are here, the nominations here.

What can we take from TVNZ’s big victory? Firstly, they are vastly better resourced than their counterparts. TV3 is not state funded and runs an immensely lean operation. During the recent economic downturn we saw TVNZ shed staff at record numbers. TV3 did not – nay, could not – follow suit. Why? Because TV3 had very little, if any, fat to trim.  After shedding so many staff, it will be interesting to see if TVNZ can maintain its form in the coming years.

Secondly, it shows the scarcity of breadth of talent we have in the tiny New Zealand news and current affairs market. TVNZ’s Q&A show (which runs on Sunday mornings at 9:00 am) won Best Current Affairs Series. Is anyone surprised? No, for it is New Zealand’s only non-tabloid attempt at current affairs. I say ‘attempt’ because Paul Holmes stops it short from achieving this status because of his distinctly non-journalistic approach to interview where he shuts down discursive debate at every opportunity.

Watch yesterday’s Holmes interview with Chief Families Commissioner Dr Jan Pryor. His style of questioning involves repeating three of four heavily subjective, if not blatantly partisan, accusations at her in a combative and inquisitorial style and then asking her to defend them. It’s painful to watch and embarrassing for Q&A and we learn nothing about the work of the families commission from this interview. Pryor should be congratulated for making it right the way through without throttling Holmes.

Incidentally, I’d welcome the Film and Television Awards instigating an antonymously themed set of awards for Worst Current Affairs Reporting, Worst Investigation of the Year and so on. This would give 20/20 and 60 Minutes a chance for some of the much deserved limelight, perhaps Jetstar could ‘ironically’ sponsor it and score the naming rights.