Television New Zealand has apologised for a Breakfast stunt after discovering two of their staff had made up abusive messages to them that were read on air.
The programme two days ago had eight staff read out messages of abuse in the wake of the weekend death in Sydney of television presenter Charlotte Dawson.
But this morning the programme apologised saying that broadcaster Peter Williams and Seven Sharp reporter Dean Butler had made up their messages.
In an on-air statement the show said the two had misunderstood what they had been told to do, and believed it was a “light hearted parody.” The other messages were genuine, Breakfast said.
“TVNZ is taking this matter very seriously and will be dealing with it appropriately,” Breakfast said.
Williams and Butler have had their parody messages removed from on-line.
The message read out by Williams, now known to be made up, said: “My mother always told me that people who talk slowly think slowly. You talk slowly, Peter Williams.”
Butler’s said: “Don’t take this the wrong way but I hope someone punches you.”
In the genuine messages reporter Brooke Dobson was told to “shave off” a moustache, Seven Sharp co-host Toni Street was criticised for her “disgusting flabby arm skin” and co-host Jesse Mulligan was labelled “thick as a plank”.
That is a huge fail. Even if one generously accepts it was a misunderstanding, then it was a huge communications failure for a broadcaster that is meant to be good at communications. There is some real hideous abuse of those with a high profile, and highlighting it was a great idea. But having two of them as invented undermines both what they did, but also the two staffers involved.