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NZ star plucked for TV by Murdoch

Paul Henry couldn't refuse Lachlan Murdoch's deal. Photo / Doug Sherring
Paul Henry couldn't refuse Lachlan Murdoch's deal. Photo / Doug Sherring

NEW Zealand's Paul Henry has pulled off a massive broadcasting coup - he's been personally poached by Rupert Murdoch's heir to become a star on Australian television.

"Hi Paul, it's Lachlan here," was how Lachlan Murdoch made the first approach two weeks ago.

Henry puzzled for a minute then realised he was speaking with the head of Network Ten in Australia, which boasts an audience of 12 million viewers.

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The controversial broadcaster is now heading for stardom in Australia as the main anchor on Network 10's morning show. He is believed to be earning at least $1.5m.

"It is an amazing opportunity. I hadn't considered anything like this. I don't think anything like this has ever actually happened to a broadcaster in New Zealand, not in my life anyway."

Henry wouldn't discuss figures.

"It's a substantial offer. It's not the sort of offer where someone counter-offers. It's the sort of offer that when people know what it is they say 'good for you'."

Amazingly, the incident that got him fired from TVNZ was not even mentioned. "They didn't talk about it. I can only imagine they knew all about it."

The courtship happened at breakneck speed.

"I just had that moment to think Lachlan who? But with a surname like that you know instantly who you are talking to."

Having broadcasting royalty on the phone caught Henry's attention instantly. "It's like getting a call from the Queen."

He said he met Murdoch for the first time on Labour Monday and the pair went out for lunch.

"He spent most of his time talking about the different things he had seen [of Henry] on YouTube. And then talking about road trips in the States."

To be out for lunch with Murdoch, talking about YouTube clips, was bizarre, Henry admitted. "You do have to shake yourself a bit."

Murdoch and MediaWorks boss Sussan Turner hammered out a deal in recent days that allowed Henry to take the opportunity of a lifetime while keeping the spirit of his contract with his current employer.

Henry will be on New Zealand screens with his recently announced TV3 show at 7pm on Sundays, which would be broadcast from Sydney.

"It will be a very New Zealand programme," he said.


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