I used to occasionally listen to Radio Live's Sunday morning show with Andrew Patterson and Finlay MacDonald.

It was a little too comfortably liberal for my tastes but it was a generally intelligent and erudite magazine show. This made it somewhat of an exception in the dumbed-down world of the New Zealand corporate media.

It was an attempt to treat people as intelligent adults rather than moronic consumers, which is mostly the case with commercial radio.

I say I used to listen to it because Patterson and MacDonald hosted their show for the final time today.

After some three years the show has got the axe - and Patterson and MacDonald, although guarded in their comments, made it clear they weren't happy about it.

And what is replacing this show? Yet another sports show. Yes, its more of the great media 'dumb down'.

It may have also been the victim of the corporate media's financial woes.

Radio Live is part of the Mediaworks radio network and Mediaworks is strapped for cash.

Mediaworks, which also owns TV3 and C4, last month reported an operating loss of $40.7 million for the year ended August 2008. And in the current economic climate, its financial position could have only got worse.

The Australian private equity investor Ironbridge Capital owns Mediaworks. Ironbridge completed its purchase of the company in October 2007, paying $741m.

As I said last year:

A new and worrying development has emerged within the New Zealand media this year and that has been the purchase of an increasing number of media companies by private equity firms. These companies have no interest in the media in itself - all they want is the best return possible on their money, more bangs for their buck. They could of equally have invested in a company making baked beans.

And I also commented:

Typically equity investment firms like Ironbridge invest in a company for no more than five years.

The problem for media companies is that corporate raiders like Ironbridge want to quickly secure short term profits so that the value of the company, in the financial books at least, is significantly increased. They then can sell the company for a big profit.

With Mediaworks reporting big losses Ironbridge may well be demanding the scaling back of operations deemed to be too expensive and 'unprofitable'.

This would also mean the axing of shows that don't pull in high enough ratings to be replaced by more dumbed down shows, geared to meet the demands of ratings and of advertisers.

Hence the axing of Radio Live's Sunday morning show.

Gotta maximise those desperately needed advertising dollars..


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