Tony Veitch is to begin the resurrection of his broadcasting career this week on Sky TV. I agree with the proposition that Veitch should be allowed to get on with his life, including returning to work. It seems his trial on assault charges will be delayed, perhaps into next year, and in the meantime there’s a presumption of innocence that must hold. [Tony Veitch's TV comeback, HoS, 15 Feb]
Veitch has already had his “trial by media” with the assault allegations being thoroughly aired last year in the period between the story breaking in The Dominion Post (July) and the time he was charged with the offences (August).
He has a right to earn a living by doing what he is good at. However, I’m a little less sanguine about Tony’s nomination as “sports presenter of the year” in the TV Guide annual awards.
It’s one of those situations where it’s hard to separate the personal from the professional and it also re-raises the whole “role model” issue. In my view it brings the whole process of nomination and judging of the awards into some doubt. There’s a popular vote for the TV Guide awards, so if Tony Veitch wins it might seem, to some, to be a vindication of him as a person(ality).
It’s also likely to again ignite debate about Kiwi attitudes towards domestic violence, particularly in relation to the pervasive sports culture of the nation. In other words, the whole situation is fraught with risk, both for Tony and for TV Guide.
The question remains: If Tony Veitch wins the award is it being given because he’s an outstanding sports broadcaster, or is it a public vote of sympathy for a man who’s been through the wringer over the past eight months?
The editor of TV Guide, Julie Eley, told me in an email, that the magazine is comfortable with Tony’s nomination:
“Why wouldn’t we nominate him. The Best on the Box awards are about people’s contribution to television over the past 12 months. There is no doubt that Tony is a very talented broadcaster [and] was a significant player in TVNZ’s sports coverage until his resignation in August.”
That’s true. Tony is a talented sports journalist and popular with the public. However, If I was running the TV Guide awards I would probably have disallowed Tony’s nomination, but only because I think that the reputation and credibility of the process is at stake. There’s also the fact that Tony’s been off-air since July last year and so his performance cannot be judged equally against those who worked the entire year.
If I were Tony, I’d probably also ask that my name be taken off the nominations list. It’s a no-win situation for him. If he wins the title it will be seen as a tainted award, if he doesn’t win it’s a further embarrassment that he can well do without.
This is one of those “It’ll all end in tears” scenarios where all the winners are losers. I can’t see how there can be a happy ending.