TV Guide letter calls pregnant TVNZ presenter Jenny-May Coffin an 'eyesore'

A Lower Hutt man says keeping a TVNZ sport presenter on screen while pregnant is "embarrassing".
TVNZ

A Lower Hutt man says keeping a TVNZ sport presenter on screen while pregnant is "embarrassing".

The man behind comments calling a pregnant TVNZ presenter an "eyesore" has apologised, saying he was "out of touch". 

Lower Hutt man John Rook called sports presenter Jenny-May Coffin "an eyesore" in a letter published in the latest edition of TV Guide's Mr Telly section.

Rook asked who was responsible for allowing a sports presenter in "a very pregnant state" to remain on screen.

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He went on to say it was time to replace the 41-year-old former Silver Fern.

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However, Rook has since apologised online after many people did not share his point of view hit out on social media and sent messages of support to Coffin.

On Monday, the 69-year-old father of three said he never intended to offend Coffin and would apologise if he had done so but he stood by his position.

"My personal view is it doesn't look nice...Do you ever see pregnant air hostesses? Do you ever see a guy with a big gut on him on the TV?"

Rook said he was surprised TV Guide had published his letter but said he suspected he was not the only person to feel this way.

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"Maybe I'm the only one brave enough to come out and say it."

But since the backlash Rook, in a comment to Stuff.co.nz, said he sincerely apologised.

We've had a huge response to a letter which was published in our recent issue. We wanted to share a few thoughts from...

Posted by The TV Guide NZ on Sunday, January 17, 2016

"This will come to most as too late but I sincerely mean it. 

"I now regret having made my personal comments as it seems I'm out of touch with what's now acceptable. I sincerely apologise to Jenny if it has caused any grief. 

"It was my personal view and I should have kept it to myself. 

To John A Rook who wrote this letter published in today's TV guide you should be ashamed of yourself...Jenny may coffin...

Posted by Sarah Waite on Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"As I said in my original letter, I wish her all the best when the time arrives."

 

Responding to the criticism and support for staying on screen while pregnant, Coffin thanked people for supporting her decision.

Coffin said:

"As a heavily pregnant woman I struggle with my own demons about my body changing shape but I choose to stay in front of the camera to encourage others to be proud of the job that we are doing – creating life," she said in a post on her personal Facebook page.

"It is a major privilege to carry and create a human being and in my case two. Just like it is a privilege to enter into your living rooms each weekend."

The TVNZ presenter says she hopes to encourage other women to be proud of being pregnant.
DAVID WHITE/FAIRFAX NZ

The TVNZ presenter says she hopes to encourage other women to be proud of being pregnant.

Equal Employment Opportunities commissioner Dr Jackie Blue also supported the presenter.

Blue, on Twitter, said women who worked while pregnant were protected by law.

"This should be one of the happies times of their lives & thankfully for most women it is a positive experience for both employer & employee."

TVNZ spokeswoman Georgie Hills said the network stood behind Coffin.

"TVNZ is fully supportive of women working during pregnancy and supports their return to work," Hills said.

"Like a lot of Kiwi women, Jenny-May is working during her pregnancy. She's not the first and she won't be the last member of our news team to do so...

"It's her choice to decide at what point she takes a break from her role and we'll support her decision 100 per cent."

Coffin, who is expecting twins with her husband Dean Clarkson, is currently filming segments which explore pregnancy for TVNZ's lifestyle series Whanau Living.

In his letter, Rook said TVNZ needed to show some "common sense" and remove Coffin.

"I have no problem with seeing pregnant women in normal situations or places, but to have them remain on TV in a state which I feel is embarrassing and an eyesore?"

TV Guide has since sustained a stream of criticism for publishing the letter after it was photographed and posted on social media.

Television editor for online publication The Spinoff Alex Casey's tweet showing the letter has been shared more than 100 times.

She followed it up with the question: "I mean WHY publish this @tvguideNZ"

Journalist Paula Penfold said: "so repulsive that whole pregnancy thing. Poor guy having to see it in his lounge."

"reminds me of the time a well known sports presenter at TVNZ looked at me, 8 months pregnant and said "that's just wrong, so wrong."

Others accused TV Guide of printing "clickbait".

One commenter on social media wrote: "I bet everyone in Lower Hutt is cringing right now."

Another suggested staging a sort of protest at Rook's house: "Lower Hutt pregnant women should all go socialise on his front lawn. Breastfeeding mums can join them. Make it a sea of bellies and boobs."

TV Guide responded to comments on social media saying the letter was "close to the line".

"Responding letters will hopefully be educational!"

TV Guide editor Julie Eley said "the letter printed in the TV Guide is one man's opinion and in no way reflects our views".

"Mr Telly provides a forum for a wide range of opinions, some of which are extreme.

"We are re-evaluating our position on which ones we should print," Eley said.

"We think Jenny May is an excellent sports presenter and her pregnancy has no bearing on her ability to do the job.​"

In a Facebook post on Monday the magazine said it had received a "huge response" to the letter, and included some feedback from readers.

The letter comes days after TVNZ staff were sent their less glamorous dresscode for the new year.

As part of the new look, female staff are not to show bare arms or wear patterned outfits, while the men are to wear "open necked shirts, sleeves rolled (where appropriate); jackets (depending on the weather) and chinos or dark trousers" under the new dress code.

Comments are now closed on this story. 

 - Stuff

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