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Apart from the excellent kids programme Lets Get Inventing, there hasn’t been a family-orientated science TV show commissioned in New Zealand for years.

tvnz7wallpaper-3-250x200So it is great news that TVNZ has commissioned a show for the TVNZ7 channel available on Freeview and on Sky as well. I’ve spoken to several companies that have pitched ideas for a science show in response to TVNZ’s request for proposal which closed in late February. Those conversations lead me to believe that whoever gets the green light, the quality of the content will be high.

Still, while there is little homegrown science content on our screens, flip through the Sky channels Discovery, National Geographic, Crime and Investigation, History Channel and Documentary Channel and you get a fair bit of science programming, albeit, foreign programming. Crucial to the success of the TVNZ7 show will be the format.

It will need to be fresh, original and capture the imagination. With the likes of Myth Busters and Megastructures having already gone a long way to popularise science TV for the mainstream, a new science show can’t resort to old formats and tricks to pull in viewers. There’ll need to be something edgy, new and mold-breaking. Oh, and because its on the advertising-free public broadcaster channel, money is tight so it will have to be done on the smell of an oily rag. A big challenge, but I think New Zealand’s innovative TV production industry is up to it!

The Royal Society is partnering with TVNZ on this venture, which should serve to open doors for the prodco in the science sector. Here’s the announcement from the Royal Society:

Royal Society of New Zealand partners with TVNZ 7 to promote the value of science and technology

The Royal Society of New Zealand has formed a partnership with TVNZ 7, with the shared objective of promoting the value of science and technology to New Zealanders.

A major new commission will see a science and technology series produced for the digital channel and launched on air later in the year.

TVNZ 7 is an advertising free channel, available via both Freeview and SKY. The channel offers stimulating factual and information programmes, documentaries, current affairs and news bulletins. The schedule is made up of a mixture of local and international programmes.

The mission of the Royal Society of New Zealand is to foster in the New Zealand community a culture that supports science and technology and to promote science and technology in schools, in industry and in society.

The Royal Society of New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Dr Di McCarthy says:

’The idea of a brand new television series on TVNZ 7 designed to excite and inform with great stories of science and technology in contemporary New Zealand is thrilling to the Royal Society of New Zealand.

’We especially want to see young New Zealanders become inspired by the fantastic array of opportunities which science and technology offer as a career. We are also looking forward to seeing the benefits of research presented in a way that makes viewers take a second look and say ‘Wow, I didn’t know that’.’

TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis is delighted by the partnership with the Royal Society of New Zealand:

’TVNZ 7 and its sister channel TVNZ 6 seek to partner with organisations with a similar interest to ours in creating genuine value for New Zealanders. The value of applied science and technology to the New Zealand economy is significant and we’re immensely proud to be joining forces with the Royal Society of New Zealand to showcase exciting developments in this arena.

’Our purpose is to inspire New Zealanders on every screen and this partnership with the Royal Society will help us do that.’

TVNZ 7 will announce details of the new series in the coming months with a plan to launch the series later in 2010.

TVNZ 7 is available on Freeview/TiVo channel 7 and on SKY/Telstra channel 97.

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