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Auckland

If the studio statistic makers are running short of potential viewers to add to the local tally, they may have some justification in claiming a few more at long range. According to Suva reports, unusual reception conditions have given patient viewers in Fiji up to five hours of somewhat spasmodic television a night. At times the sound and picture are quite perfect. Fiji, which has no television service, has the slightly frustrating experience of receiving bits and pieces from Samoa and also from Brisbane and Melbourne - often on the same channel - when special summer weather conditions move in... . Viewers were somewhat shaken by the sudden departure of Barbara Magner from the Town and Around team and then from Broadcasting. On the surface, Barbara might have been better advised to have just accepted her relegation to radio, then let viewer pressure for her return to TV build up its own volition. However, sounding off in the press about her differences of opinion with the NZBC is no way to get in the good books of the moguls. It will be interesting to see what comments Barbara comes up with in the book she is reported to be writing.

We haven’t seen Guy Nixon on television for quite a long time, but he was certainly a familiar face in the earlier years of the service, However, Guy has gone for good now to try his luck in America Where his mother, well-known for years as radio personality Marina, is now living... . . Sonia King's afternoon On Camera session recently had a slight change of panel for the answers to viewers’ questions when the usual duo were away and Alma Johnson, better-known as a continuity announcer, produced some forthright answers, dubiously aided by another once familiar television face, your present correspondent. The shortage of camera men was shown up by the fact that visiting producer, Chris Bourne, was behind one of the eye pieces for the occasion... . Still vague mutterings about one of the erstwhile English pirate radio ships being brought to the New Zealand coast.

Wellington

NZBC has ensured a plentiful supply of Christmas shows in the week leading up to December 25, including a Christmas edition of the Late Show. If earlier this programme seemed to be stumbling along rather mindlessly, Kevan Moore has gradually made it into a coherent, and often lively show. As the year ends and people start preparing for holidays, the thought of missing some of the finest programmes scheduled during the year creates a few pangs for those who will not have access to television sets during their vacations. For example, those who have been caught up in the story of the Forsytes will be reluctant to miss any of it... The latest ratings list for month ending October 28 showed the Town and Around team still held top sway in Wellington (which hardly supported some of the wilder criticisms being made by one or two columnists that the programme was jaded and needed a rest). The Invaders made a quick appearance among the top ten and it will not be surprising to see it climb higher. Wellingtonians were finding it one of the most gripping shows screened this year... Coronation Street showed a marked increase in popularity since it went to twice-a-week screening in August. It topped the list in Auckland, was second equal in Christchurch, sixth equal in Wellington and seventh in Dunedin. The faster story flow seemed to produce a greater viewer involvement. Even so, we doubt if the programme planners should be moved to think of twice-a-week screening for Peyton Place... Maurice Smyth, producer of Town and Around, had a well-earned break on leave in late November. His place was taken by Michael Scott-Smith for the period... Welcomed back to his office was Mr. T. F. A. Shankland, Controller of Television, after a long illness and recuperation. ... Another staffer from Head Office TV, Maurice Broome, who had had the same illness was also expected to return to duty at the end of November... Popular announcer, Marama Koea, will represent New Zealand in a new style Family Favourites on BBC radio. She introduces requests from New Zealand listeners for friends and relatives in the United Kingdom.

Christchurch

publicity on a forthcoming check of households in the Christchurch area for which there were no records of radio or TV licences sent lots of folks scurrying to complete the necessary transactions before inspectors arrived on the scene. The first section of the check, covering only a comparatively small suburban sector, showed only seven percent did not hold TV licences... Those responsible for the first two-way live link between CHTV3 and WNTV1 for Town and Around deserved a better deal from fate on the occasion of the 300th night of Channel 3's Town and Around programme. An electrical storm in North Canterbury was apparently the cause of poor reception of the first half of the programme in Christchurch. Wellington viewers fared much better. Ironically, the weather in Wellington on this particular night could not have been much worse, while, in Christchurch, the evening was mild and pleasant... As predicted earlier in this column, Graham Coddington has now been confirmed as chief of the Christchurch news bureau, thereby taking over the seat of John Cockerill who has joined a public relations firm in Australia... Generally conceded Channel 3 scooped the newspapers on South Canterbury and Mackenzie Country storm coverage, while the cookie could not have crumbled better for the Town and Around team, took a look at South Canterbury drought-stricken one day and storm-stricken the next... Now that Christchurch’s Donald Bain has settled more comfortably in front of the camera, Column Comment is a greatly-improved offering. A former World War II correspondent and Christchurch financial journalist, Bain brings a solid background to this weekly feature, and what he has to say is worth listening to... Bill Taylor's new children’s programme 5,4,3,2,1, Zero was perhaps, a little erratic at lift-off, but this eight half-hour episode series is settling into a good entertainment orbit. Incidentally, 12-year-old schoolboy, Michael O’Connor, who plays the part of spaceboy, Zero, is a fairly well-seasoned actor. He was one of two who played the title role of Oliver in the city earlier in the year... Looks like the NZBC has done it again. Why slot in the long Forsyte Saga series at a time when many viewers will be holidaying away from their TV sets? This is something that most people will want to see right through. It could well have been held over for winter viewing. After all, there is no question of topicality here, and the NZBC has rarely shown over-concern about topicality in any event.

Dundedin

Back in the job at DNTV2 after spending two years travelling around the world with her journalist husband, is technical assistant, Gillian Vine. Mrs Vine spent a good deal of her time in Britain working for the Independant Television News Company, as part of a team of four women responsible for embellishing film items With appropriate sound effects. Television jobs in Britain, according the Mrs Vine, are very difficult to obtain but once in, an employee can rest assured that there'll be little chance of losing his or her job. Another fact that Mrs Vine noted, and had some difficulty convincing her workmates of, was that New Zealanders have to work "ten times harder" and on an average, receive about $800 a year less. During her time with ITN Mrs Vine had occasion to work with former Dunedin man, Tony Thompson, who is producing the This Week in Britain series, for which ITN does the dubbing... Sports fans will be delighted to hear that the DNTV2 outside telecast unit is heavily committed from now until next March, during which time, in addition to covering local events, there will be direct telecasts of several major sporting fixtures to take place in Dunedin. These include Plunket Shield cricket and the New Zealand bowls finals and a large athletics meeting... The final religious telecast this year came from St. Paul’s Cathedral in Dunedin, where the team spent a considerable amount of time preparing for a successful screening of an ordination service. Plans are now under way for a further six direct telecasts from churches of several denominations next year... Change of personnel on the children’s series, Meet Pete. The newcomer is Barbara Casserley, who took over from Audrey Larsen earlier in the series.