October 10, 2010

Paul Henry Resigns

The attached picture, dated August) comes from Stuff.co.nz with the caption "Top Rater" and yet Paul Henry resigned from TVNZ today amidst pressure that his seemingly "racist" comments, this time, went a little too far. 
But did they?
Not according to 27,000 fans on one of the many "Bring Paul Henry Back" Facebook page . This group is outraged that New Zealand has become so incredibly PC and I have to admit, it does make you wonder just what the hell a TV production team want from a host. Sure, they want ratings to increase but Paul Henry did that. In fact, he doubled their ratings and forced a competitive morning show off the air. He was a Media delight as far as the advertising department were concerned. Sure he rattled a few cages but that was what attracted his audience - a lot of New Zealand's morning audience in fact. Now it seems as if you need to be a popular TV host but when a small minority get offended, you're out on your "Arrrrrrse". 

Not that long ago Steve Gray, Good Morning Show co-host for years, found his contract not being renewed unless, of course, he could tone down his gayness. Whatever next? Pippa not allowed to look pregnant? 

I preferred when New Zealand stood out from the crowd - being anti-nuclear didn't come without controversy and I'm pretty sure when women were "allowed" to vote there were more than a few die-hards ready to run them into the ground with pitchforks. What on earth has happened to New Zealand? 

Paul Henry's Press Release: 
I have resigned from TVNZ, effective immediately.
It is no longer practical in the current environment for me to do the job I was employed to do, and have so enjoyed doing. It is also difficult for TVNZ to get on with the business of being a first class broadcaster as long as I remain.
I have apologised twice, and have meant every word. I again apologise to all those who were genuinely hurt by what I said.
However, it is clear that things have now reached a point where my actions will have to speak louder than my words.
I am astonished and dismayed that my comments have created a diplomatic incident. My style is conversational and of course unscripted. I walk the finest of lines and accept that I have inadvertently crossed it from time to time.
But I recognise the realities of the situation.
I do not want to continue to be used as a lightning rod for racial disharmony in this country. Likewise, I certainly do not want to have my elderly mother staked out at her nursing home by tabloid media, as has happened this weekend.
I will miss the professionalism and friendship of the brilliant production team I have worked with, and I will miss the fun and satisfaction of having doubled the audience for Breakfast in the last few years. The programme is great – and I’m sure its success will continue.
To be honest, most of all I’ll miss Pippa.
I am grateful to the many thousands of people who have offered their support to me. I hope they will understand and accept that an extraordinary convergence of circumstances has made this action necessary
I am saddened by this whole episode – sad that I crossed the line in the first place, and sad that an employer I have always served with pride has had to suffer slings and arrows.
To all those who have enjoyed Breakfast – thank you. It has been a privilege to have been part of your mornings for the last seven years.



    Just three weeks after Henry was named the People's Choice at the Qantas media awards, TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis accepted his resignation at a meeting today.

    TVNZ - Bloody hypocrites...!

  2. Ellis' Statement:

    Paul Henry and I met earlier today and Paul offered me his resignation, which I have accepted.

    In doing so, I offer my sincere apology on behalf of myself and TVNZ, to all those who have been offended by Paul’s inappropriate on-air comments.

    I will be apologising in person to the Governor General.

    I also apologise to the Indian community, both here and in India.

    Paul has many loyal supporters and there will be those who question whether his resignation was the right outcome.

    I believe Paul has done the right thing.

    The reality is that his comments have split the community and damaged New Zealand’s international relationships, and there is no going back from that.

    We will all be aware of other broadcasters and public figures who have said or done things to cause controversy, without such a serious outcome.

    Paul is not the first broadcaster to step over the line, and I expect he won’t be the last – but there are factors at play here that have taken things to a unique level.

    I commend him for his decision.

    As an organisation committed to the principals of free speech it is our job to steer a course between the sometimes conflicting demands of freedom of opinion and respect for others.

    This is not always easy. However what is clear as an outcome of this episode is that any suggestion of racism, whether intended or not, is unacceptable. We are quite clear about that.

    I would like to acknowledge the thousands of Paul’s supporters who have contacted us and who will be disappointed at this outcome. I have a stack of emails on my desk fully 20cms high.

    To those people, I would ask you to consider the consequences to Paul and to the country of continuing a situation that has generated a divisive debate and continuing hurt for others.

    As Chief Executive and Editor-In-Chief I need to assure New Zealanders that the necessary steps are being taken to avoid this happening again.

    As in other media organisations, there’s a fine balancing act between giving people freedom to express their opinion – which is critical in a democracy – and causing offence.

    Last week I asked News and Current Affairs management to begin reviewing the company’s editorial policies and presenter code of conduct, and in particular, practices around live broadcasts.

    TVNZ News and Current Affairs produces hundreds of hours a year of live programmes and the guidelines have generally stood our operations in good stead. It is timely to review them.

    I very much hope that Paul’s resignation will demonstrate his profound regret and offer an opportunity for healing.


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