TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick has issued a personal
statement over revelations veteran journalist Peter Williams
was involved in making up abusive messages for an item that
went to air.
Kenrick released the statement this evening after Williams
was revealed to have read out an abusive message, apparently
from a viewer, which turned out not to be genuine. Seven
Sharp reporter Dan Butler also made up an abusive message.
Kenrick said he had received numerous questions today asking
how a journalist and presenter of Williams' seniority and
standing could have done such a thing.
"It is crucial to our integrity as a news organisation that
we don't allow people to think that Peter's contribution to
the news story was a deliberate falsification intended to
"I have spoken with Peter at length and I understand that the
invitation to him to participate suggested a similarity with
a show by American comic Jimmy Kimmel that featured
celebrities reading out unkind tweets.
"This led him to believe, incorrectly, that the item was
intended to be comic.
"Peter had no involvement in the editorial decisions around
the item and was unaware of the context until it went to air.
At that point he immediately spoke up to say his contribution
Kenrick said Williams had offered him and TVNZ viewers "his
most sincere apologies''.
"This of course doesn't excuse what happened and we are
taking a thorough look at our processes to ensure it doesn't
happen again,'' Kenrick said.
"We'll be making sure any complaints coming to us are dealt
with quickly, and the outcome of any formal complaints will
be made public.''
TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said the broadcaster had not
received any complaints about the fabricated abuse messages
It was encouraging to see public support on the Breakfast
show's Facebook page, she said.
"We were impressed with people's ability to see to the heart
of the matter, and the intention of the original story.''
More than 150 Facebook users had commented on Facebook below
a video of this morning's on-air apology, which screened
shortly after 6am today.
Most were supportive, with commenters saying the presenters
had made a "genuine mistake'' which was "not a big deal''.
Some commenters even said there was no need to apologise or
"come clean'' about the fake messages at all.