John Campbell has announced he is leaving Breakfast to take on a new role as TVNZ’s Chief Correspondent. Video / TVNZ
He is one, if not the biggest name in New Zealand media.
He has been the nation’s trusted friend, let into the homes of Kiwis through earthquakes, terror attacks, lockdowns, protests, six Olympics and six prime ministers.
His brand is spotless, and his affinity for rap music and getting lost in a laugh makes him all the more likeable and marketable.
So what does the departure of John Campbell from Breakfast and the arrival of journalist Kamahl Santamaria mean for the hotly contested ratings war between Breakfast and AM?
Breakfast remains New Zealand’s most-watched morning news program in 2022, with an audience of 352,100 people each day.
But will Campbell’s departure open a door for AM’s new-look morning show to close the ratings gap, which has long tipped in Breakfast’s favor?
A man who knows all too well what Campbell’s departure and his new role as TVNZ’s chief correspondent will mean for the morning show, is the Newsroom’s co-editor and former head of news and affairs Commons of Three, Mark Jennings.
Speaking to the Herald, Jennings shared that the change is likely to cause “major disruption”.
“Changing hosts is a pretty big disruption and disruptions give the competition a small window of opportunity – because there will be viewers who decide they don’t like the new host or don’t like the chemistry a once Campbell’s gone,” Jennings said. the Herald.
So what will it take for AM and Discovery to claim the morning TV crown? According to Jennings, it’s all going to be about timing and making sure they’re ready to grab viewers for a short period of time.
“The key for AM will be that they’ll be at their best when TV1 viewers decide to sample them. You have that little window to grab people and convert them,” he noted.
So who is Campbell’s replacement, and what kind of power does Santamaria bring to this hotly contested market?
Kamahl Santamaria is well accomplished in his own right, coming to TVNZ from Al Jazeera, where he helped launch the channel and has spent the past 16 years as a senior news presenter, covering many of the world’s biggest stories.
And according to Jennings, the more formal style of the new hosts will likely require an adjustment period for viewers.
“Breakfast is hoping Kamahl will arrive soon enough. He’s a talented host, but he’s used to presenting major international news in a fairly formal style. Breakfast is a lighter show with a national focus, so he’ll need ‘a bit of time to adjust in this direction.’
The Auckland-born journalist started his career at 3 News (now Newshub) and revealed the new challenge of broadcasting ‘on your feet’ is what attracted him.
“20 years is a long time, but it was the challenge of Breakfast and three hours of live streaming every morning that brought me back,” Santamaria said in the TVNZ statement.
Accustomed to a competitive news market, the Al Jazeera broadcaster says he knows what to expect: “When I left New Zealand, morning TV was still in its infancy. It’s established, competitive and dynamic.
“I’m really delighted to be home. I feel like it’s come full circle and I’m delighted to be joining TVNZ’s News and Current Affairs Department at such a crucial time for the industry,” concluded Santamaria.
TVNZ news chief Paul Yurisich has expressed his hopes the new host will add “another dimension” to the breakfast crew.
“It’s already such a strong team and I’m delighted to be able to add Kamahl’s international experience to the mix. He does a great job of breaking down any story for the audience and is a highly skilled interviewer,” a- he shared.
While there is absolutely no doubt with TVNZ bosses that Santamaria knows the job well, the only opinion that really matters in the ratings war is that of the New Zealand public.
And that opinion should be revealed when Santamaria hits the couch later this month.
Campbell’s final day on Breakfast alongside Jenny-May Clarkson, Matty McLean and Indira Stewart will be this Friday.