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TVNZ sacking over Rankin comments 'shocking': EPMU

August 8, 2007
Media Release

TVNZ sacking over Rankin comments 'shocking' - EPMU

TVNZ’s sacking of a security guard for politely criticising the comments of a Breakfast show commentator is shocking, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.

Louis Rawnsley, who has worked as a security guard for the state broadcaster for 24 years, was dismissed after saying to TVNZ guest Christine Rankin as she left that her Breakfast show comments about Maori and child abuse were “over the top”.

EPMU National Secretary Andrew Little says the incident shows a serious lack of judgment by the state broadcaster.

“There’s something seriously wrong in TVNZ if it thinks it’s okay to provide a public platform for someone claiming we ‘have a Maori problem’ but to sack a longstanding and loyal worker for making a polite and private criticism of that view.

“There are two problems with TVNZ’s actions. Firstly, people like Christine Rankin can’t expect to express controversial views without alternative views also being expressed. Secondly, TVNZ has to understand that its employees are citizens, too, and must be allowed to express views, especially in important national debates like this.”

Last night, TV3’s Nightline reported Rankin claims to have only mentioned the incident in passing to TVNZ management and was surprised to find out Rawnsley had been sacked – something Little finds astounding.

“If this is correct then there has been an almighty over-reaction – we’d expect there’d be a much higher burden of proof needed to deprive someone of their livelihood than a mere passing remark.”

The EPMU is currently following the matter up with TVNZ’s management.

ENDS

A streaming copy of the original Rankin interview is available at: http://tvnz.co.nz/view/video_popup_windows_skin/1259020

A streaming copy of Louis’ TV3 interview is available at: http://www.tv3.co.nz/News/NationalNews/Story/tabid/423/articleID/32108/Default.aspx

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