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MEDIA STATEMENT FROM RICK ELLIS, CEO, TVNZ


10 October 2010

MEDIA STATEMENT FROM RICK ELLIS, CEO, TVNZ

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 principles 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.
NB: Editors - Rick Ellis will not be available for individual interviews. However he will appear on ONE News at 6, and again in a more detailed interview on TVNZ 7's News at 8.  Media are welcome to use actuality from either of these.

 


Contact:
Megan Richards
TVNZ Corporate Affairs
021 804 123