The trouble with Holmes is that he is, undoubtedly, an excellent drawcard for the "old and cranky" segment of the population. Appealing to this group has a number of commercial drawbacks for Prime:
- They'll be dead soon - a media outlet that targets oldies has to continually renew its audience
- They're less attractive to advertisers who want to do long-term brand building
- They watch a lot of telly - so advertisers have a lot of choice on how to reach them, and reruns of "the young and the restless" are a lot cheaper than primetime news
- They don't spend as much or as frivolously as the youth
- Many of them don't have UHF - those that do may well not have the tendency to watch "new" channels
I suppose Prime's motivation is that a "full service" TV station needs to get people watching at the start of the evening with a current affairs programme, in the expectation that they will stay with the channel. Given that, it's cheaper to pay Holmes to do a personality-driven show than to spend big dollars on news gathering.
Incidentally, regarding the "tree story" isn't it technically criminal damage to dig up someone elses land and plant a tree on it? And aren't broadcasters meant to refrain from instigating illegal activity?