Fired for tweeting

SuperSport has let go of rugby commentator Andrew “Tank” Lanning after he revealed market-sensitive information about the company on popular social media platform Twitter.

The broadcaster’s communications manager, Clinton van der Berg, says it “regrets that Lanning, while attending a commentary workshop at SuperSport on Wednesday, chose to tweet various confidential matters pertaining to both SuperSport and SA Rugby”.

Van der Berg says Lanning’s actions were contrary to company policy. Although the company has a social media policy in place, it says this wasn’t necessarily breached. However, Lanning’s posts breached confidentiality and would have been actionable no matter the medium used.

Lanning used his Twitter account to publish several figures during what he called a “SuperSport presentation”. The figures included possibly market-sensitive information about SuperSport and parent MultiChoice, which is owned ultimately by JSE-listed media group Naspers.

The tweets included MultiChoice subscriber numbers — that the company had 200 000 subscribers to its high-definition service and 5-million customers in total on DStv. MultiChoice is Naspers’s biggest subsidiary and profit contributor.

But, website Memeburn says Lanning disagrees, claiming the offending tweets contained comments about rugby management and the way players are managed during a World Cup year. He believes that the broadcaster “completely over-reacted”.

“The tweet was: ‘SA Rugby to ‘manage’ the Springboks during the Tri-Nations. I think it’s a good thing,'” Lanning told News24 on Friday.

Other tweets from Lanning that could have offended SuperSport included one that said viewership of the opening Super Rugby match between the Bulls and the Lions was down 16% on a year ago. He also said that popular rugby show, Boots & All, had improved viewership by 35%. But this had been because of an increase in the number of times the show was repeated.

On Thursday, Lanning tweeted that SuperSport had axed him for a “fairly innocuous [tweet] about managing players during Tri-Nations in a World Cup year”.

SuperSport says it was Lanning who suggested he part ways with the company and that SuperSport had only told him off about the tweets.

“Andrew was admonished for his conduct. In response to this, he expressed the opinion that SuperSport was conducting itself in a childish manner and proposed that he part ways with the company,” says Van der Berg.

“SuperSport, in the circumstances, accepted Andrew’s suggestion to part ways.”

Lanning could not immediately be reached for comment. — TechCentral

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