New Zealanders are going to have to get used to the sound of canned laughter on TV, with MediaWorks announcing today that none of its TV shows will be filmed in front of a live audience for the foreseeable future.
The decision was made in a bid to help contain Covid-19, and in accordance with new Government restrictions which limit unnecessary mass public gatherings.
It means that Dancing With The Stars New Zealand, scheduled to air later this year, will be filmed and broadcast in an empty studio.
For a TV show that undoubtedly gets its high energy vibe from the enthusiasm of its live audiences, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact this has.
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The news comes as a double blow for New Zealand's ballroom dancing community, which learned earlier this week that one of its major international competitions, scheduled for Easter, cannot go ahead. Meanwhile dance studio directors are worried for the future of their studios.
The MediaWorks decison also affects Three's primetime current affairs show The Project, presented by Kanoa Lloyd, Jeremy Corbett and Jesse Mulligan.
A MediaWorks spokesperson said, "The Project has chosen to broadcast without a studio audience for the foreseeable future.
"We care about Kiwis' health which is why we have now made the decision that we will not be filming Dancing with the Stars NZ or any other shows in front of a live studio audience until we feel it is completely safe to do so.
"We know you'll love our shows from your lounge rooms as much as you would in the studio."
The spread of Covid-19 is having a profound effect on broadcasting as we know it in New Zealand.
Last night Seven Sharp presenter Jeremy Wells was unable to join his co-host Hilary Barry on the couch because he was in self-isolation at home after coming into contact with the Bachelorette NZ contestant who is being tested for Covid-19.
He appeared briefly on the show via Skype and told Hilary that he was feeling perfectly fine, but that he'd taken the precaution to stay at home just in case. The test results for the Bachelorette NZ contestant are expected to come back today, with TVNZ to advise media.
And this morning The Hits radio co-hosts Toni Street and Sam Wallace presented their breakfast radio show from Toni's rumpus room in her home.
"@laurasamtonionthehits coming to you from my rumpus room this morning. Who else is working from home? #socialdistancing," Toni cheerily captioned an image of herself and Sam set up at a table in her house on Instagram.
It seems that New Zealanders are also going to get to see a lot more of the insides of their favourite broadcasters' homes.
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