Paul Henry has been suspended from TVNZ. Rick Ellis the CEO of TVNZ said:
We give Paul a lot of freedom with the Breakfast programme and he does a magnificent job. But as we have said before, with that freedom comes responsibility.
Paul is one of New Zealand’s best broadcasters. He is a provocative host who speaks his mind and that is what many New Zealanders like about him. He often pushes the boundaries and that’s important in a country that values freedom of speech. But I consider his latest remarks to have well and truly crossed that line.
As Editor-In-Chief I have today suspended Paul without pay effective immediately. He will return on air on Monday 18 October.
When Sir Anand returns from the Commonwealth Games I will be personally apologising to him.
I’m afraid that I’m in agreement with Mike Treen of the Unite Union when he says that Henry needs to be sacked.
However Paul Henry legitimizes racism and bigotry in the workplace. I deal every day with problems associated with managers and even co-workers abusing staff because the look or sound different. Workers can end up tormented and bullied out of their jobs by the so-called humour being practiced by Paul Henry. When we try to do something about it, when we try to protect the workers, the inevitable response is ‘well, Paul Henry is allowed to use this language on national TV why can’t I. Paul Henry has become the poster boy for bigotry. He has no place on a national broadcaster paid for by taxpayers – taxpayers who include many of the people he humiliates.
John Minto sums up my attitude
It is a case of ‘three strikes and you’re out’ Paul Henry is a serial offender. He has abused women, people of colour, gay people, people with disabilities and all migrant Kiwis who don’t look like him. This is not a case of a broadcaster exercising free speech. This is a broadcaster legitimizing bigotry and hatred in the community.
Quite simply Henry is a recidivist offender who appears to quite deliberately set out to offend people. Having him fronting a news and current affairs show is a travesty. He has long since worn out my patience.
I’d suggest that people need to go to the protests today to ensure the objectionable bigot doesn’t return to the screen in a few weeks.