Plunket v RNZ

The Herald reports:

Radio New Zealand Morning Report host Sean Plunket was “distressed” at being told to find another job if he didn’t like his employer’s decision he could not write a column for Metro magazine, he told the Employment Relations Authority.

Plunket took RNZ to the authority after he was refused permission to write the column, along with being refused permission to moderate two televised debates, for TVNZ and TVNZ6.

The TVNZ6 debate was one on Internet issues, and probably had a viewership of a few thousands. I was amazed that Radio NZ could somehow think this was a threat to them.

Plunket disagreed with RNZ’s claim that the secondary work was a conflict of interest, saying his employer was not in competition with the other media, and the work would have helped raise his profile, and, in turn, RNZ’s.

Exactly. As a taxpayer who funds Radio NZ, I object to their behaviour to act as if they were commercial radio. They are not. They are funded by the taxpayers to provide a public service, and locking their staff up does not serve the public interest.

At a meeting with RNZ’s chief executive Peter Cavanagh earlier this year, Plunket was told he was part of the broadcaster’s “brand”, as though “anything I said or did anywhere would reflect on Radio New Zealand”.

He said Mr Cavanagh later told him “you might find the offers stop coming if you don’t have the profile of Morning Report” and “if you don’t like it, get another job”.

And this was over a once a month column in Metro. Sure if Plunket wanted to go on NewstalkZB every week, I could understand some reluctance – a but a Metro column?

Plunket said he believed he was being treated differently to other RNZ reporters and presenters, who were given permission to do similar secondary work.

RNZ journalists Chris Laidlaw, Kim Hill and Brent Edwards gave evidence this morning that they had done work for other media while employed by RNZ.

But RNZ said Hill and Laidlaw were entertainment presenters, whereas Plunket was a news presenter, so there were different ethical responsibilities in their roles.

Kim Hill is entertainment? Wouldn’t want to tell her that.

Political editor Edwards had appeared on TVNZ’s Agenda, but said he understood he was representing RNZ in that role and had not been paid.

And this is the bizarre argument from RNZ. They claim it is about ethical issues, but then here they claim it is about whether you get paid. Are they saying Plunket could write the column if he did it for free?

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