Why did he go and what does it mean for TVNZ and Henry?
Why did he go?
What changed, so that it went from a suspension offence to resignation. I think there were four factors.
- The Dikshit name mockery by itself would have been no big thing. Other NZ broadcasters have done exactly the same thing as Paul Henry did, and it was reported that in India her name has been made fun of for many years by some. But the problem for Henry was it occuring just before his awful comments on Sir Anand not being a real NZers. This made it look like Henry was prejudiced against Indians, rather than just making fun of her name.
- The official complaint from the Indian Government. While it is preposterous that they turned it official, the reality is they did. Suddenly this makes the comments a major liability.
- A growing realisation that Henry’s brand has been so damaged by this, that he would never be able to restore his reputation with many NZers.
- Perhaps most importantly the “scandal” effectively destroyed his chances of ever grabbing the coveted Close Up hosting spot. It is no secret he had wanted this for many years. With that now ruled out, he had no future in TVNZ except to stay where he is.
So what does it mean for TVNZ:
- In the short term they get out of the political bonfire that was threatening to burn them
- But also in the short term they face a backlash from the many Paul Henry supporters (up to 70,000 now on Facebook). And do not under estimate how many people watched Breakfast only because of him. I was certainly one of them. Don’t get me wrong – other presenters do a competent job, but Paul makes you laugh and is so entertaining that you really enjoyed tuning in.
- As I understand it Breakfast has never been highly profitable. It is possible Breakfast could become a loss leader, and in these tight times may be an expense TVNZ can not afford.
And where now for Paul Henry:
- If I was TV3 I’d be picking up the phone to Paul. However I wouldn’t necessarily stick him on at Breakfast – that time slot is never highly profitable. Maybe give him the 5.30 pm slot that TVNZ were looking to develop for him.
- A return to radio is possible. That was where he started. However I have to say that I think seeing Paul’s antics is a big part of his appeal, and radio may lessen that.
- Paul could always become a blogger 🙂