John Drinnan

Media writer for the New Zealand Herald

'Internal opposition' to Henry fronting new TVNZ show

Paul Henry says taking a job at TVNZ would have been a breach of contract. Photo / Doug Sherring
Paul Henry says taking a job at TVNZ would have been a breach of contract. Photo / Doug Sherring

Television New Zealand faced "internal opposition" in its newsroom over proposals to offer Paul Henry a role fronting the replacement to Close Up on TV One next year, the Herald has been told.

Henry was quoted in an "exclusive" cover story in the New Zealand Woman's Weekly: "TVNZ did offer me the job as host of the 7pm slot that will replace Close Up, yes."

A TVNZ source said Henry was approached, along with other other potential hosts for the new show, but it was not correct to say the job was offered to him.

Henry, whose Ten Breakfast show was scrapped amid poor ratings, told Woman's Weekly he was "by far the best person to do the job".

It is understood that Pippa Wetzell - his suggested co-host for the new Close Up - had not yet been offered a role on the replacement to Close Up.

Henry was restricted because he had a non-compete agreement when he left MediaWorks for the Ten Network, which prevented him going back to TVNZ. He said taking a job at TVNZ would have been a breach of contract.

But a TVNZ source says there would have been "internal opposition" among other staff at TVNZ over his return.

Beyond presenters, no decision had been made on the make-up of the Close Up replacement.

However, TVNZ is negotiating with sponsor Kia about transferring its sponsorship to the new show.

TVNZ's big problem seems to be a shortage of talent to front the new show.

With Henry bound by contractual obligations, MediaWorks and TV3 is awash with presenters.

Political editor Duncan Garner is being transplanted from the Parliamentary Gallery to take over drive time on RadioLive and will front the show 3rd Degree, which takes over from 60 Minutes next year.

Guyon Espiner - whom a TV3 source says is no longer able to take up a promised role as back-up to John Campbell - will continue to front the foreign news show 360.

RadioLive recently hired Sean Plunket to take over from Michael Laws. TV3 has also been developing a new prime time interview show that would fit Henry's talents but declined to provide an update on planning for that show.

- NZ Herald

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