SuperSport axes commentator over tweet

2011-02-25 11:07

Cape Town - SuperSport has axed rugby commentator and Sport24 editor Andrew "Tank" Lanning for sending out a tweet during a closed workshop regarding the utilisation of players during a World Cup year.

"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.

Expert opinion suggests that the focus for SA rugby should be on the Rugby World Cup rather than the Tri-Nations. However, SA Rugby is contractually bound to field the strongest team for the Tri-Nations and any hint of resting top players would be viewed as a breach of contract.

"SA Rugby asked me to delete the tweet and told SuperSport about it. SuperSport thought I had breached trust and cancelled my meeting with them in Johannesburg without reason.

"I called them childish," Lanning said.


In its response, SuperSport acknowledged that it had parted ways with Lanning, but suggested that the decision was mutual.

"SuperSport regrets that Andrew Lanning, while attending a commentary workshop at SuperSport on Wednesday (February 23), chose to tweet regarding various confidential matters pertaining to both SuperSport and SA Rugby.

"As this is contrary to company policy, Andrew was admonished for his conduct. In response to this, Andrew expressed the opinion that SuperSport was conducting itself in a childish manner and proposed that he part ways with SuperSport. SuperSport, in the circumstances, accepted Andrew's suggestion to part ways," SuperSport communications manager Clinton van der Berg told News24 in an e-mailed statement.

Lanning though, is unrepentant and said that companies are "nervous" about social media.

"SuperSport panders to the needs of SA Rugby and rights owners. They are nervous about social media and out of touch with their viewers. SA Rugby treads very carefully; they try to ban it instead of trying to make it work for them."

Social media has become a hot topic in sport after England threatened to ban its players from using Facebook and Twitter. It later followed Australia's lead in allowing players to use social networks.

Recent incidents raise the debate once more on whether what is said on social networks can be used against employees.

'Honest opinion'

In 2010, CNN fired senior editor Octavia Nasr for a tweet that said she respected a Lebanese Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, branded a terrorist by the US.

Stuart MacLennan, candidate for the Scottish constituency of Moray was fired by the British Labour party for profanity-laced tweets about Labour and opposition politicians.

More recently, members of Britain's lower house of parliament were banned from using Twitter while sitting in the chamber after Labour MP Kevin Brennan complained during a debate that Julian Huppert of the Liberal Democrat party, which is part of the governing coalition, was tweeting.

Lanning though feels that there are more avenues to be expressive and said that South Africans are tired of organisations "patronising" them.

"I think people are tired of been spoken down to and I really enjoyed commentary, but there are other ways to express yourself. It should be about rugby. People want honest opinion."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

  • SAFFA-CAT - 2011-02-25 11:16

    You have GOT to be sh#tting me? RIGHT BEHIND YOU TANK!!!!!!!!! This is an Alice in DictatorLAND fairytale.

      POLLENYS - 2011-02-25 12:04

      Dan Retief's contract - the best analyst in my books - was cancelled by SS for being "too critical." We have a new Broederbond. Everbody must just toe the line.

      lovemoz17 - 2011-02-26 12:28

      DSTV and SUPERSPORT has lost touch with its sport viewers. Shameful!!! I expected much more of a broadcaster like DSTV. Sies man!

  • Lanata - 2011-02-25 11:16

    4k 'em Tank!!!

      Ian - 2011-02-27 15:15

      and eat dust, note it was a "closed workshop" not a public debate nor a press release

  • JJSnuffels - 2011-02-25 11:21

    If they fire tank for this, then Pieter de Villiers should have been fired after his first week!

      jay - 2011-02-25 11:36

      so true. PdV comments reach a far wider audience than the people who choose to follow Tank and his opinions ... what next

      saturnz - 2011-02-25 14:42

      the difference is this was a closed workshop, implying what was said there stays there

      TJOPPIE - 2011-02-25 15:09

      Ja but PdV is a Twit not a Tweeter.

      Onke.Dali - 2011-02-25 20:03

      Oh JJ shut up why don't you,read carefully before you post stupid comments..wat does De Villiers have to do with anything here

      CliffBradley - 2011-02-27 15:26

      Trouble is PDV is a card carrying ANCircus member !!!

  • Bernard - 2011-02-25 11:29

    That's for having Niels deleted!

  • niels - 2011-02-25 11:32

    Right behind you Tank.

  • CapeTownJunk - 2011-02-25 11:33

    Here's another obligatory message of support for Tank, from someone who believes that placing restrictions on commentators is the easiest way to retard the quality of their commentary.

  • Gorilla - 2011-02-25 11:33

    Is a bit childish I agree, but I think this instant tweeting especially during a meeting is a bit tactless. If i'm in a meeting and someone is texting I would have an issue with it.

      DeonL - 2011-02-25 12:13

      I agree he should not tweet / facebook / News 24 while in a meeting. I decided some time ago to let a new secretary go in her probabtion period as she used to ask the other secretary to stop working on the PC as she needed to get up to date with her private e mails and facebook!

      Schumi - 2011-02-25 12:50

      There are enough commentators in rugby, dont cry about the loss of his opinion on Super Sport. Having said that, im surprised on both accounts: firstly that SA Rugby would say something like that amongst reporters and that secondly that Tank knowning the rules of engagement would publish a statement like that, knowing fully its contradiction of the Tri nations T&C's with SANZAR. @Gorilla: Despite the content of this issue, i also get irritated by people who mess with their phones during meetings. Professionals have lost the art of time management. - 2011-02-25 12:52

      I see ZERO value in facebook or any similar products in the work place. Unproductive and somewhat dangerous but thats my opinion on that.

  • AJ - 2011-02-25 11:33

    Hoisted by their own petard. Children.

      BokShark - 2011-02-25 21:20

      Hmmm... methinks you mean, "Hoist" by their own petard.

  • - 2011-02-25 11:35

    Many a tear has to fall ... but it's all in the game. If he was in a workshop he should have been concentrating on that, not fiddling around and tweeting. What a Twit!

      CapeTownJunk - 2011-02-25 14:44

      Oh please... get some perspective. It was probably a rugby yakkity-yak workshop. It's not like Tank was tweeting while in the middle of performing brain surgery, or defusing a bomb. In the grand scale of things, a rugby workshop is a couple of steps removed from a Paris Hilton press conference.

  • Brandon96end - 2011-02-25 11:42

    TWITTER IS KAK anyway, best left to people with too much time on their hands. - 2011-02-25 13:23

      And not enough grey matter to do a "decent job"!

      Zolani - 2011-02-25 14:31

      I read a Artical 14 years ago, that said if you not doing buisness with China, then you not doing buisness, Now you cant get in anymore. Dont underestimate the value of facebook and twiter. its BIG

  • Georg_Van - 2011-02-25 11:43

    Tank is complaing about the tweets. He should be concentrating on the fact that he has a confidenciality clause and breached it. He's diverting the issue. In a professional world, that's what happens: you get fired. Mail, tweet, verbal, does not matter. They're spot on

      Adrian - 2011-02-25 12:27

      Georg , i see you're a strong believer in freedom of speech. The man is employed for his specialist opinion on rugby. SS however want to curb his opinion and enforce their own opinions through him. Stuff them Tank , they are all just grovelling cowards , the whole bunch of them

      paulmandlankosi - 2011-02-25 12:57

      Good riddance - 2011-02-25 12:57

      @Adrian Georg_Van is making a valid point. regarding the commentators conduct. And in terms of his contract with SS. Nothing to do with the media shut out and so on. Stick to the issue. No matter who we feel is right or wrong. If You signed the contract and breached it you have to suffer the consequences. Subsequently dismissal was not from what i read the course of action that SS wanted to take.

      john - 2011-02-25 13:54

      Adrian, it has nothing to do with freedom of speech. He's employed for his opinion on rugby, not to serve as the company spokesperson on viewing trends and figures. The company had every right to take action. I have never signed an employment contract ever that didn't have a confidentiality clause in it. I can't imagine that SuperSport's contracts are any different. It's amazing that people go on about "freedom of speech" when it comes to WikiLeaks or issues like this. But then they have issues when FaceBook exercises its "freedom of speech" to divulge users' details to third parties. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If you want to have your privacy and confidentiality protected, you must also be prepared to grant these rights to others.

      lyledperry - 2011-02-27 00:00

      Georg, you are 100% CORRECT. It is not about freedom of speech, curbing comments etc., it is about breach of contract. I am an attorney and it is clear that Tank was placed in a position of trust, told information in confidence (in a CLOSED workshop) and he told the public that information. This is a matter in law, in which he breached his contract and was fired for it (which was probably one of the remedies for breach under his contract). Sorry Tank, we love you, but they were well within their rights to do what they did.

  • sonnyg - 2011-02-25 11:43

    Should they not have stated that this information was confidential. Anyhow if the information is confidential then why are realising the info to commentators/media??? Agree 100% with this tank "People want honest opinion" else what is the point of having experts on talk shows or interviews?

      DeonL - 2011-02-25 12:15

      It was in his contract. He is not the spoke person for SARU or Supersport.

  • CubanGorilla - 2011-02-25 11:53

    Is SA Rugby affiliated with Julius Malema and the ANCYL; does SA Rugby and SuperSport want to close down twitter too? Sport is for the people, not the administrators!!! Rugby is a professsional sport but we should never lose the amateur feeling of the game... the game is for the people, IT'S OUR GAME!!!

      paulmandlankosi - 2011-02-25 15:28

      The only thing you know is the ANCYL and Julius nothing else. You should be a very boring grand pa or you ran away from the Mental institute perhaps

  • Phoenix - 2011-02-25 11:53

    We are sure as hell NOT in a DEMOCRATIC country. People that say anything that does not agree with the heads of companies, or government or news media, then they fire them. Do they honestly believe that will shut the person/s up. You cannot sue if its fact. You are childish to fire, for a silly remark, and let us not forget, WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE LIVING IN A DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY, you bunch of moronic butt strings. You all carrying on like a bunch of idiotic, childish brats trying to be DICTATORS. Typical morons.

      john - 2011-02-25 13:32

      Oh, rubbish. One aspect that differentiates democracy from dictatorship is that, in a democracy, there are privacy and confidentiality rights. Employers have every right to expect that confidential details of their business will be kept confidential by their employees. It is not Tank's job nor his place to leak details of SuperSport's viewing trends to the public. But that's exactly what he did. People who cry "freedom of speech" are mistaken. If your doctor released the results of your medical tests on the internet, would you consider that he was entitled to do so under "freedom of speech"?

      john - 2011-02-25 13:37

      Oh, and btw, you can sue if it's fact. If your doctor published the results of your medical tests on the internet, do you think he could escape any consequences by claiming "But the results are TRUE! I have the tests to prove it!" In many cases, the legal profession follows the dictum that "the greater the truth, the greater the damages".

  • tommy 2 - 2011-02-25 11:55


  • Koos - 2011-02-25 11:58

    "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. .... now realy Super sport... I you axe someone for this then I realy dont know how your support structure works for SA rugby.... what is so secret about this?? if the media was there... then it couldnt be so bad...??? you realy suck at keeping the public happy dstv.SS! FFS!!

  • JustinD - 2011-02-25 12:07


  • rygold - 2011-02-25 12:12

    Media 24 have got it wrong again - for the real story try - He was canned because he mentioned that SA rugby were managing the boks. Thats a self serving lie. He was fired because he revealed information about Supersports viewership and business - and rightly so. How unprofessional can you get? Then he lied about the real reason. Media 24 should get rid of him as well.

      BlackSwan - 2011-02-25 13:09

      Thanks for this - helps to clear the issue

      ilze.sutherland - 2011-02-25 13:10

      Yes, go to that site and read the WHOLE story - this shortened to be a very one sided version of what happened.

  • Lili Radloff - 2011-02-25 12:15

    Who do they think they are? The freaking Mafia?

      rygold - 2011-02-25 12:28

      Are you seriously a journalist? You work for a media company. And that's your comment on the matter then?

      Adams - 2011-02-25 12:45

      @Rygold no dude haven't you read her stuff, she seriously is not a journalist.

  • sniffter - 2011-02-25 12:21

    i think tank is being badly tweeted

      Jan - 2011-02-25 12:30

      HAHA good one!

  • Mayaziwe - 2011-02-25 12:23

    Dear "Independent, Objective and Informative" Media Is this your way of telling me that I cannot trust what I read on your websites and in your newspapers? Are you telling me that what I read and take in on a daily basis is just glorified paid-for-advertising? This smells like crap to me. How dare you? Just give us unbiased truth or bugger-off! Maybe a media tribunal should be instituted, because we know how you change/fudge the truth and headlines to sell more papers - look at the Bono / "Kill the boer" saga. Stuff he never said gets insinuated and the next moment some asshoel throws his tickets in the Jukskei River. Just maybe next time the same sod jumps of Van Stadens Bridge...who is then to blame...Well OK the poor sod is to blame...but my point is that you should take more responsibility for what you report! I support Tank...and may he sue your ass and win!

  • lenand40 - 2011-02-25 12:39

    If people agree to be part of a secretive meeting, and then reveal contents of such a meeting, then they have no one to blame. He should have declined to take part in such a meeting. I suspect that there is a self serving issue here, though I find the reaction of SS rather high-handed.

  • - 2011-02-25 12:42

    LOL So childish your write Tank, SS has become to big for boots and all. World cup is top priority. all unions agree anyway.

  • Adams - 2011-02-25 12:47

    Lanning broke the terms of his contract, he acted like a child, they called his bluff, now they pay him a salary. Thats teh way the world works.

  • RQd2 - 2011-02-25 12:49

    Well, if this isn't the idea opportunity for SABC, TOP TV or ETV to get a foothold into rugby then i don't know what is. Nobody likes a monopoly... Down with the Supersport tyrants and their petticoats! Down i say!

      BlackSwan - 2011-02-25 13:13

      Really? go to and talk again (courtesy of rygold)

  • goyougoodthing - 2011-02-25 13:05

    The 'truth' in South Africa is never a good thing, especially when it comes to sport. I would love to expose all the other 'truths' about our Boks such as why Januarie got a new contract with the Stormers, why certain players continue to feature, why others are able to play even when it contradicts SARU policy etc etc. The agendas at SARU are deep, mixed with interference from politicians and others who have a vested interest in the team. This kind of exposure is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SARU and their dodgy policies.

  • Baby Ewing - 2011-02-25 13:07


  • Stompies - 2011-02-25 13:14

    no big loss - one less biased reporter!

  • john - 2011-02-25 13:15

    When are people going to learn that social media is not just a frivolous joke, it is an official channel of communication. We had that Aussie swimmer who called Saffies "faggots" on Twitter and got nailed for it. What did she THINK was going to happen?? That because it's Twitter and not an official media release, nobody is going to take it seriously? As for that CNN newscaster Tweeting about respecting someone who is ideologically in favour of destroying her employer's country, well, what does she expect?! People need to get with the program. Twitter and Tweet do not over-ride civil law. If I sit in a private meeting discussing matters which my client deems confidential, I am not at liberty to Tweet to the world about what is discussed. That is not "the Nazi thought police", it is common civil law. It's amazing that members of the public will have a hernia if there's even a hint that their privacy/confidentiality has been breached on FaceBook or whatever. But they're not willing to grant that same right to companies. I've sat in many meetings in which clients gave confidential details of their business. Those details are for my eyes only, not for public consumption. If I'm not old enough and mature enough to grasp that, I shouldn't be in the workforce.

      AnneB - 2011-02-25 13:30

      Agreed, John. It also annoys me intensely when I am conducting a meeting and somebody is fiddling around with his/her cell phone. It's downright rude.

  • smallwhirled - 2011-02-25 13:17

    What an over reaction from Supersport. Didn't expect that from them. On the other hand, Tweeting is stupid, why do people think we want to know their every little thought or opinion-all the time. Tank has a column(or two) he therefore has a platform to communicate to the public, why tweet?. He is always worth a read, but not a tweet.

  • joanne - 2011-02-25 13:28 who in supersport had the time to read the tweets and tattle tale?

  • Grant - 2011-02-25 13:34

    Really don't care Dstv and Mnet suck anyway. I download all my stuff. New movies every weekend, I dont have to watch repeats, downloaded all my series. Ive already watched the 7th season of Grays Anatomy.

      Broombastic - 2011-02-25 14:20

      Do you download your live sport too?

      Grant - 2011-02-26 07:12

      Thank God I'm not into sport.

      Aitsa - 2011-02-26 14:18

      Grays Anatomy Series 7!?! You lucky man, you.

  • Siener2011 - 2011-02-25 13:43

    I thought Malema shut down TWITter?

  • Tank Lanning - 2011-02-25 14:01

    It is not my intention to get into a mud slinging match in the media about this, but for the record, I had to make contact with SuperSport on Thursday morning after they cancelled a meeting I had stayed in Joburg overnight for at the last second – via a Outlook meeting cancellation mail with no explanation. And in that e-mail to them I called the meeting cancellation childish, and still think that way. If so incensed, why not then use that meeting time to tell me to my face? And it seems SuperSport have released info to Tech Crunch that I have never heard before. Not once have I been told that it was the audience Tweets that were offensive. And given that I was never contracted to SuperSport, I have never been asked to sign any form of confidentiality agreement ever. And at no stage in the meeting on Wednesday were we asked to keep anything confidential.

      jowza - 2011-02-25 14:40

      You dont have to sign a confidentially agreement.You just have to use common sense.If you are a free agent as you claim,move on.Get over it

      The Dutchman - 2011-02-25 14:41

      It's a bullsh1t play, they are probably trying to make an example of you and your tweeting thumbs, do they even know what twitter is?? Create a Sports Channel Sport24-1 Where tweeting is not a crime, but a way of life.

      SportsMan - 2011-02-25 15:48

      Jowza, maybe you should use some common sense before publishing such a comment. He is totally right, if not contracted and never told not to say anything then why should he keep things quiet? As sport followers we rely on guys like Tank to give us unbiased insight; that's what makes us watch the sport and listen to the commentary.

      Le Majeur - 2011-02-25 16:45

      The bigger man thing to do here Tank, would be to admit you were wrong. Confidentiality clause or not, you do not publicise details of private meetings in a private company. What you tweeted, has the potential of dropping viewer ratings during the Tri-Nations. It also has the potential of getting the clients, (SARU), in a situation where they are liable to all sorts of claims from SANZAR. This info, was probably obtained confidentially from SARU. Grow up! This is not about you tweeting, it's about divulging confidential information about the company you work for and the clients.

      Adams - 2011-02-25 16:52

      Just read the article off techcentral and saw the tweets. Absolute brain failure thinking that information is for public consumption. Deserved to get fired straight away, no questions just go.

      john - 2011-02-25 17:11

      Having read Tank's explanation, I do have sympathy. Obviously it was an innocent mistake and he didn't act out of malice. So maybe SuperSport need to be a bit more explicit about what they expect of their commentators and other employees/guests in terms of confidentiality. Still, they have the right to confidentiality, as we all do under the law. That right being breached innocently and without malice doesn't mean that they have forfeited the right, nor that they are "Nazis" for getting upset about it. I think the best resolution would be for SuperSport and Tank to sit down for a quiet chat on what he may and may not divulge. Him calling them childish and them summarily dismissing him strikes me as over-reaction on both sides.

  • HJS - 2011-02-25 14:16

    Tank Lanning will not be missed by SuperSport, or in any other context. Really don't care much for his opinions. At the same time I think SuperSport is trying very hard to absolutely "rule the roost". Let no one dare cross swords with them. Care about as much for them as I do for Tank.

  • rooivink555 - 2011-02-25 14:35

    supersport - example of perfect monopoly SA Rugby - eample of perfect zoo these are not companies functioning within a normal capatalistic framework but rather vile juggernauts put together through political and financial back room dealing...

  • SportsMan - 2011-02-25 15:45

    Pathetic. Losing a lot of respect for Supersport.

  • junktopia - 2011-02-25 16:46

    Allthough I am not against tweeting or social media some things are confidential and should be treated as such. If SS did not inform them that all was off the record, then I would swing my vote to Tank. But you cannot tweet confidential info. Especially if you remember how the Aussies carried on like babies in 07 when we did the same. Why even play TN in a WC year?

      Sugarloaf - 2011-02-25 22:21

      If this was confidential then, we the viewers, are being conned. We are supposed to be living in a democratic, sport loving country. Where is the transparency?

  • maseratifitt - 2011-02-25 19:27

    The childish "powers that be" are raping our sport. Tank did nothing wrong.

  • thatkaizer - 2011-02-25 21:31

    twitter - the area between your arse and your sh1tter!

  • Sugarloaf - 2011-02-25 22:15

    Take them on Tank. They think they can do what they like. They have a monopoly and this is not healthy for sport.

  • Peter - 2011-02-25 23:17

    So the job of SuperSport writers is to hide the truth and pander to the needs of SA Rugby and rights owners? Eina. I need to remember this next time I listen to their opinions.

      Deon - 2011-02-26 09:29

      If they sign a contract with their employer to do so, then it is most certainly the job of the employee to do so.

  • zule - 2011-02-25 23:28

    Tanks a twit for tweeting at the wrong time

  • Doc Walker - 2011-02-26 00:21

    I'm surprised that so many people act as if tweeting is a human right and that anybody should be allowed to tweet what they want, when they want. If I'm sharing proprietary and confidential information in my talk or workshop and I don't want you to tweet then you don’t tweet. Period. Not all information is free or should be. You disrespect me by tweeting stuff that you know is confidential then you’re looking to get your ass kicked or fired. Tank is the child here. You don’t own the info Tank, twit.

  • Allin - 2011-02-26 05:31

    Cancelled my DSTV subscription years ago - the sport alone wasn't worth all the money I had to fork out...

      Grant - 2011-02-26 11:08

      So true for example sake, America. AT&T an american satilite company charges 45 dollars for over 800 channels, Times that buy our currency and that is R323 and we pay R625 for only 88 channels, what a rip off. And we are the ony country in the world that pays for the pvr, rewind pause and record functions.

  • wilsonrob1 - 2011-02-26 08:10

    who is Tank Lanning?

  • Douglas Hendry - 2011-02-26 08:21

    People who tweet during meetings are idiots. He deserved all he got. He was there for a meeting, not to tell his "followers" what a big man he is.

  • DuncanMacR - 2011-02-26 08:45

    Tank - unfair treatment. Agree the media world need to move with the times. Pity that Supersport is losing one of its few well spoken and intelligent rugby commentators. Only Matt left now. Matt and Tank have been our only commentators who really mirror the English and Aussie commentators.

  • shrubber - 2011-02-26 08:55

    No loss...... fruity speaking halfwit who thinks that he can write as well..... wish we coiuld get rid of more 'em..... like that supercilious limey/itie and the Zim "I've-swallowed-a-dictionary-but-don't-know-how-to-correctly-pronounce-all-the-words-that-I-use" dude.....

  • Deon - 2011-02-26 09:26

    If you sign a contract, keep to it. As simple as that! It is about integrity.