Tamihere v MediaWorks: 'This is a dangerous precedent'

Mr Tamihere says in the email “this is not a performance or disciplinary matter we are clear about our confirmation of continuing employment in the New Year. We are helping you in difficult times.”

Former RadioLive host John Tamihere told MediaWorks the media should not be dictated to by advertisers, following the Roastbusters fallout. 

Internal emails reveal how MediaWorks managers scrambled to deal with the scandal as advertisers pulled their sponsorships following RadioLive host Willie Jackson and John Tamihere’s controversial interview with a girl who claimed to know victims of the Roastbusters.

The controversial incident with the girl known as Amy and the withdrawal of advertisers led to the standing down of Willie and JT .

Mr Tamihere has since been replaced by Alison Mau while Mr Jackson remains on air. Mr Tamihere has since issued court proceedings claiming MediaWorks defamed him and also breached his contract.

In the statement of claim filed with the High Court at Auckland, Mr Tamihere says he had a contract with MediaWorks for one year beginning in January 2014. The value of this contract is $120,000. The statement of claim says he wants $620,000 (it includes what he says are $500,000 "general damages").

In internal emails with his employer, Mr Tamihere records the conversations with head of talk brands for RadioLive Jana Rangooni and MediaWorks radio chief executive Belinda Mulgrew following the incident.

Mr Tamihere says he and Mr Jackson stepped down to protect the brand of MediaWorks/RadioLive.

The email records that the pair will receive full pay until December 21 and that a start date to return in January had been agreed upon.

Mr Tamihere says in the email, “this is not a performance or disciplinary matter we are clear about our confirmation of continuing employment in the New Year. We are helping you in difficult times.”

“You have made a decision as communicated to us that advertisers pulling out and the loss of revenue was the tipping point.”

“We observe this is a dangerous precedent.

‘Firstly the fourth estate should not be dictated to be ANZ or others to make “MORAL” judgments. They are a bank, not the Nation’s or RadioLive’s moral compass.”

Defamation claim
Mr Tamihere says the handling of the announcement about Alison Mau replacing as presenter damaged his reputation.

Mr Tamihere says MediaWorks actions suggested the host had been involved in misconduct resulting from the  “Roast Busters media storm when he had in fact been cleared by the internal committee’s report.”

The MediaWorks committee report report emphasised considering the broadcast in its entirety and its context that it did not breach the radio broadcasting codes complained of including good taste, privacy and responsible programming. 

The internal committee notes in its decision many complainants had not heard the audio of the call – because it was removed.

He says MediaWorks first published a statement on Twitter, which linked directly to an article about Alison Mau joining Radio Live.

Mr Tamihere says this is the first time he learnt Ms Mau was replacing him as co-host.

According to the statement of claim, reports from other media outlets linked the announcement of Ms Mau’s appointment to Mr Tamihere in a negative way.

He says MediaWorks knew it would cause damage and harm to his reputation.

Broadcasting Standards Authority spokesman John King says no complaints have been laid with the regulatory body regarding Mr Tamihere and the phone call with Amy. 

According to Mr Tamihere’s lawyer, Jacque Lethbridge, MediaWorks has until February 28 to file a statement of defence to defend the proceedings.

MediaWorks spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer says it was the company's right not to opt not to renew Mr Tamihere’s contract.

"Our position is that his allegations have no substance. We will file our defence to the proceeding in due course.”

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