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Media: Lawyers Called in as the 3D Investigative Team Resists Shutdown Plan

The recently-announced proposal not to renew TV3’s flagship current affairs show 3D is now subject to fierce resistance from the show’s journalists, who have assembled a legal team to work on a challenge to the way employment process was conducted.

The Spinoff can reveal that 3D‘s journalists have called on lawyers, forensic accountants and employment experts to help build a case that proper processes weren’t followed, and are in a dialogue with the channel’s Human Resources department.

“If Weldon thinks he can take on a room full of investigative journalists and they’re just going to roll over, he’s very much mistaken,” says a source privy to the situation.

The Spinoff understands that a number of letters have been exchanged between MediaWorks and representatives of the 3D team, with the latter furious at the way the show has been treated.

The challenge centres on three elements. It’s alleged:

  • That MediaWorks did not consult in good faith.
  • That MediaWorks provided 3D with misleading and inaccurate reasons for closure.
  • That the seven days the programme was given for consultation were not nearly adequate.

The process began on November 4, when MediaWorks circulated a press release announcing the proposal not to renew 3D, a show which has been airing in one guise or another since the founding of the channel. Whether under the name 60 Minutes, 20/20, 3rd Degree or 3D, TV3 has consistently run long-format current affairs. So while 3D is a new brand, if it were to be shut down it would represent the end of a style of investigative journalism which has been with the channel throughout its history.

The press release indicated that its prospects were not good. “Long-form current affairs is challenging to make commercially viable all over the world,” it quoted MediaWorks’ head of news Mark Jennings as saying. “Given the way media consumption habits are changing, unfortunately continuing 3D may not be possible.”

The announcement was commonly understood as a fait accompli, particularly given the tiny timeframe for consultation.

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But this latest news suggests the 3D team aren’t willing to simply accept the decision, and are digging in for a protracted fight. After the failure of Campbell Live‘s attempt to use ratings and a public outcry as a survival technique, 3D is using a very different weapon in the battle to save their show.

The challenge is the latest evidence that relations between key TV3 journalists and senior executives at MediaWorks have irrevocably broken down. Ever since the Campbell Live debacle, the company’s journalists have been close to open revolt at the company’s strategy toward news.

The nature of 3D‘s approach indicates that the era of passive resistance through social media or appeals to the public might be coming to an end, replaced by one on which the employment implications will be the new battleground.


Click here to read Duncan Greive’s analysis of TV3’s decision to swap news for reality TV over the past year.

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