Television in New Zealand

Page 3 – Early evening news on TV

New Zealanders are used to receiving their early evening news on television at 6 p.m. every night of the week. But the current format only stabilised in the early 1990s as competition intensified – and channels realised that news would win them the night's audience. Until then the news screened sometime between 6 and 8 p.m.

The first news programmes shown in the early 1960s consisted entirely of overseas film. Local news and weather and a national news bulletin were soon added. Since then the content of the news has remained largely the same. The amount of local and regional news included has varied greatly over time and from channel to channel.

Specialist newsreaders have presented theTV news since the early days. Many gained experience on local channels in the early 1960s before coming to national prominence with the development of a network news programme in 1969. They initially worked in rotation. During periods of intense competition in the late 1970s and 1980s the channels began using, and promoting, individuals or pairs of newsreaders.


NZBS Auckland Channel Two
  • On 6 July AKTV2's regular Wednesday night transmission includes a news programme for the first time. Compiled locally, the NZBS newsreel, as it becomes known, initially consists entirely of film purchased from the British Commonwealth International News Agency (BCINA).
  • By the end of the year the newsreel is shown at about 8 p.m. five nights a week and includes some locally recorded items. 'British television news' initially screens in its place on Tuesdays, but this is eventually relegated to late on Fridays.


  • In January AKTV2 starts regular transmissions every night. The newsreel screens each night at about 8 p.m. On Sunday 'British television news' takes its place.
  • At the beginning of the year the New Zealand Broadcasting Service (NZBS) appoints Ben Coury as its first news editor.
  • In May the newsreel replaces 'British television news' on Sundays.
  • On 1 June CHTV3 starts regular transmissions in Christchurch, followed by WNTV1 on 1 July in Wellington. Both channels initially screen the newsreel at about 8 p.m., alongside the weather and any local items. AKTV2 now screens the newsreel at about 7 p.m.
  • By November the newsreel is on all channels at about 7 p.m.
  • The NZBS establishes a radio and television news service in Wellington.


  • In March the NZBS changes the format of the news. The weather forecast and a five-minute spoken news bulletin screen on each channel at about 7 p.m. The NZBS's news service provides the script for the bulletin by telephone. The newsreel screens approximately one hour later. It continues to include film from BCINA and local items, but also material broadcast on the two other channels the previous day. 'British television news' starts to reappear in the newsreel’s place on Sunday nights.
  • On 1 April the National government's Broadcasting Act 1961 comes into effect, establishing the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation (NZBC).
  • On 2 April the NZBC board considers a submission from the NZBS's former director of sound broadcasting, John Hall, regarding the formation of a news service.
  • In June the NZBC begins installing a teleprinter network that will facilitate the transmission of news scripts.
  • On 31 July DNTV2 starts making regular transmissions every night inDunedin. These follow the format on other channels. The weather forecast and news bulletin screen at about 7 p.m. and the newsreel at about 8 p.m.


NZBC reports logo
  • In September Coury gains overall control of all NZBC news staff. The NZBC reports launches, combining news bulletins, local items and the newsreel. It screens at 7.33 p.m., following the weather forecast.
  • The NZBC asks James Kemp, a BBC news editor, to survey New Zealand's news service.


  • In March Kemp releases his report.
  • In July the NZBC board considers his observations and recommendations from Gilbert Stringer, its first director-general.


  • The NZBC appoints Waldo Maguire, a senior member of the BBC's news and current affairs team, as its first controller of news and public affairs. He institutes major changes, including improvements in facilities and equipment.
  • In June the NZBC purchases shares in the television news service Visnews (formerly BCINA), giving it an 'effective source of world news'.


  • On 10 April the news service 'comes of age' with its coverage of the Wahine disaster. The footage wins the World Newsfilm Award.


NZBC news logo
  • On 3 November television networking begins. All stations broadcast the NZBC network news in place of the newsreel at 7.33 p.m., followed by the weather. The newsreaders are Stewart Macpherson, Philip Sherry, Dougal Stevenson (first night) and Bill Toft. The network news originates with WNTV1 and there are complaints about the loss of local items.


  • In February the network news moves to 7 p.m., followed by regional news and weather.


  • Satellite facilities open at Warkworth and content received by this means begins to appear on the network news.


  • The NZBC completes the national TV network.
  • On 18 December the Labour government’s Broadcasting Act 1973 comes into effect. This splits the NZBC into three corporations, Radio NewZealandand Television Service One and Two, and a Broadcasting Council. TV1 controls the existing channel and TV2 a forthcoming one. The NZBC continues to operate until 1975.


Television One logo
  • On 1 April members of the boards of the council and three corporations replace the NZBC board.
  • On 1 April TV1, based inWellingtonandDunedin, begins broadcasting. It has the advantage of an existing national network. Its news screens at 6.30 p.m., incorporating the weather and regional news. It features newsreaders Bill McCarthy and Dougal Stevenson.
  • In April the corporations begin sharing a daily satellite news feed service fromSydney.
  • On 30 June TV2, based in Auckland and Christchurch, begins broadcasting, with limited coverage initially. Its news, at 7 p.m., has more regional content than TV1's. It features the country's first female newsreader, Jennie Goodwin.
  • In December TV2 brings its news forward to 6 p.m.


South Pacific Television logo
  • By May all TV2’s main transmitters are operational.
  • In July the council chairman, Ron Jarden, instructs the corporations' directors-general to plan for a combined news service. This is in preparation for the introduction of the National government's Broadcasting Act 1976.
  • In December TV2 rebrands itself as South Pacific Television (SPTV) to distinguish itself from the former NZBC channel.


  • On 1 February the act comes into effect. The council and three corporations combine into the Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand (BCNZ) (and a Broadcasting Tribunal). There is no noticeable change to news services.
  • In February Jarden, the new corporation's first chairman, dies unexpectedly.
  • In May Ian Cross takes over as chairman. He sees competition between the two TV channels, particularly in the area of news. as a waste of programming resources. Like Jarden, he seeks to combine news services.
  • By the end of the year the channels agree not to run similar programmes against each other.


  • In mid-February Cross announces a plan to amalgamate the two channels.
  • In June Bruce Crossan is appointed as the new system's controller of news and current affairs.
  • In December SPTV starts screening headlines at 6 p.m. in place of a news bulletin.


The South Tonight regional television logo
  • On 14 February SPTV stops broadcasting.
  • On 15 February TV1 and SPTV are reborn as TV1 and TV2 under the newly established Television New Zealand (TVNZ).
  • On 16 February the new channels begin transmission. TV1 continues to screen network news at 6.30 p.m., and TV2 screens headlines.
  • In March regional news programmes resume on TV1 at 7.30 p.m.
  • Television news service headquarters moves to Auckland.
  • Publisher Wilson and Horton and the Alternative Television Network unsuccessfully attempt to gain warrants for private broadcasting.


  • In February news on TV1 increases to an hour, from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m. (it remains at half an hour on weekends and during the summer). It incorporates national and international news, regional news programmes, and the weather forecast. TV2 screens a 10-minute news bulletin at 6 p.m.


  • In November the Broadcasting Tribunal calls for applications for TV warrants and TV programme warrants to produce news and current affairs programmes.


  • The warrant hearings begin in August and continue into the following year.


  • In May TVNZ establishes resident journalists in Sydney and London.
  • In September Labour's Royal Commission of Inquiry into broadcasting presents its report. The government rejects most of its recommendations.


  • In April BCNZ obtains its own satellite service intoNew Zealand, improving the quality of TVNZ's news.
  • On 25 August the Tribunal gives TV3 the warrant for a third channel.
  • In November BCNZ sells its Visnews shares.


  • In July TV1 moves its one-hour news programme to 6 p.m.
  • In November the government deregulates the broadcasting sector. The Broadcasting Amendment Act, No. 2, 1988 dissolves the BCNZ, and the State-owned Enterprises Amendment Act, No. 4, creates RNZ Limited and TVNZ Limited as state-owned enterprises.


TV3 logo
  • In April TV1 reduces its news to half an hour, shifting its regional news programmes to TV2 and putting Holmes, a current affairs programme, on in their place at 6.30 p.m. Newsreaders Judy Bailey and Richard Long are featured.
  • On 26 November TV3 begins transmission. It copies TV1's 6 p.m. timeslot and mix of half an hour of news and half an hour of current affairs. Newsreader Philip Sherry is featured.
  • In December the Broadcasting Act 1989 establishes the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Broadcasting Commission.


  • In February TV3 moves its news to 6.30 p.m.
  • In May Sky TV starts broadcasting to its subscribers. It has a 24-hour news channel.
  • In mid-December TVNZ stops screening regional news programmes.


  • In February TV3 returns its news to 6 p.m. in an hour-long format.


  • In February TV1 re-establishes an hour-long news programme. Holmes shifts to 7 p.m.
  • TVNZ opens regional TV stations under Horizon Pacific, a wholly owned subsidiary. These screen regional news programmes.


  • By June TVNZ has closed all the Horizon Pacific stations.


  • TV1 and TV3 start to screen regular hour-long news programmes in the weekend.


Maori Television logo
  • In February Prime TV, which began broadcasting in 1998, launches its first news programme, Prime news: first at 5.30.
  • In April Maori Television starts broadcasting. Its half-hour news programme, Te kaea, screens at 8.30 p.m.
  • In November Te kaea moves to 7.30 p.m.


TV 7 logo
  • In March TVNZ 7 launches. The channel features TVNZ news now updates on the hour from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • TVNZ 7's last day of broadcast was 30 June 2012.
How to cite this page

'Early evening news on TV', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 21-Aug-2023