13 Oct 2010

Reaction to Henry shows clash in TVNZ roles - Fraser

1:40 pm on 13 October 2010

A former head of Television New Zealand says its response to comments by former presenter Paul Henry shows a clash between its commercial and public service objectives.

The state broadcaster has launched a review of its editorial policies after Henry triggered a diplomatic incident with his comments about New Zealand's Governor-General and the Chief Minister of Delhi.

Henry resigned at the weekend. He had been suspended for two weeks by TVNZ for suggesting that Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, who has Fijian-Indian heritage, is not a real New Zealander.

He also mispronounced and ridiculed the surname of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit while presenting the Breakfast programme, prompting an apology by the New Zealand High Commissioner in India last week.

Former TVNZ chief executive Ian Fraser says the broadcaster did not let public service values triumph over the commercial demand of ratings.

Mr Fraser told Nine to Noon on Wednesday the incident is a reminder that while TVNZ is publicly owned it cannot credibly claim, or afford to be, a public service broadcaster.

"The incident reminds us that although we own TVNZ, it is not a public broadcaster - except in name - and it can't credibly to be one because it doesn't want to be one, and it can't afford to be one."

He says there is a clear expectation for public service broadcasters not to insult, humiliate or bully people.