Television New Zealand is refusing to say whether it gave Paul Henry a golden handshake after his racial slur.

His surprisingly dignified resignation followed a meeting with his lawyer on the weekend.

Estimates of the likely payout range from six months' pay - about $150,000 - to $500,000-plus, covering the remaining term of his contract.

If TVNZ has limited a payout to $150,000 it is a rare sign of astute talent management.

Because the state broadcaster and its top management should bear some of the responsibility for the collapse of his career and loss of TVNZ's reputation.

John Hawkesby, Tony Veitch and now Paul Henry.

The cases of high-profile disputes are very different but they all indicate that TVNZ has trouble dealing with talent.

All of those have been when Rick Ellis has been chief executive.

It is another example of how TVNZ - focused on becoming a commercially successful multimedia company - has lost the plot.

At the top level TVNZ is gradually forgetting how to run old-fashioned current affairs.

Henry was encouraged to say what he wanted with few attempts to rein him in.

Henry is responsible for what he said. But have a good look at his Dikshit item and his comments about Indian people - it is particularly stark.

But it appears that TVNZ management and the government-appointed board of governors did not care where he was headed.

A government source said politicians had not intervened.

But the board - headed by Sir John Anderson - was concerned by management's slow reaction last week to the unfolding crisis.

Inevitably there would have been issues about employment contracts and due process.

Many TVNZ staff are furious with Henry's comments.

But as with the wider community there are some in the media circle - fans of Henry and his entertainment talent - who feel their broadcasting pal has been hard done by.

Paul Holmes on Q & A said the trouble occurred because he offended the commentariat and opinion makers.

But he also managed to offend a large section of New Zealanders includng Indians on the Auckland isthmus. TVNZ chose to ignore those people and focus on the market of New Zealander impressed with Henry's naughty comments.

The public reaction frightened advertisers like Progressive Enterprises who are the true arbiters of TVNZ standards.

The diplomatic incident with India may have been over the top and bizarre. But it is no more bizarre than a state broadcaster with a shock jock on a free rein to conduct current affairs interviews.

Someone with a licence to offend a segment of viewers on breakfast TV while the state broadcaster claims to represent "One New Zealand."