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TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis' full statement

Published: 6:18PM Sunday October 10, 2010 Source: ONE News

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.

What do you think about Paul Henry's decision? Have your say on our messageboard

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  • lu said on 2010-10-15 @ 17:59 NZDT: Report abusive post

    No Paul and soon to be no Pippa so I will no longer be watching TVNZ breakfast. This incident should be a classic lesson in how to make a huge mess over nothing! We are becoming such a nanny state we can't even smile without the risk of offending someone. I hope the TV 3 producers get their act together and get breakfast up and running shortly and offer Paul the job!

  • Nzder said on 2010-10-14 @ 18:20 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I am so very sad that this has been forced to happen. No matter what the spin doctors have organised for the official announcements which we hear on the news and read in the papers, it is obvious that a small minority of people with loud voices have pushed out one of the most beloved figures in public television today. As is indicative of nearly all controversial subjects in New Zealand today the minority always get their way. We need only look at the anti smacking law for confirmation of that.

  • tricciboo said on 2010-10-13 @ 21:32 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I'm right behide Mr Paul Henry. Is he being used as bait, perhaps someone wants his position!!!! At least hes straight to the point, no dilly dallying around.

  • Princess Whakaue said on 2010-10-13 @ 10:35 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I cannot believe that TVNZ has accepted Paul Henry's resignation. Come on TV3 get your breakfast programme underway because tvnz may have retained their sponsors, but they have lost this viewer (sorry Pippa). It used to be a delight to wake each morning to the happy (sometimes outrageous) sounds of Paul and Pippa. Paul's leaving is an outrage and I hope he is not lost to NZ but finds his way back onto our screens via TV3. Briong back PAUL

  • 2YT said on 2010-10-13 @ 10:32 NZDT: Report abusive post

    If you dont want to watch breakfast dont,what did Pippa,Coran,Peter,tamati and the rest do to have to sit back and read all these comments about not wanting to watch breakfast you probable dont know this but they are part of the team as well.Paul's gone get over it.