Steve Gray, the ex-presenter of TVOne's Good Morning show, says he's wondering whether concern over his sexual orientation led him to be axed from the programme.
"About five or six months ago I was pulled aside by my producer and told, 'I've had a call from upstairs and they just want you to look at your gayness and not play to it so much'," he explains.
"Tone down your gayness? How do you do that? It's like saying to Brendon [another Good Morning presenter], 'Tone down your Maori!'"
TVNZ had previously stated that Gray's departure from the show was a cost-cutting measure, but now says "it was a network decision - not related to costs". He's been offered his previous smaller role doing movie and DVD reviews on the programme.
Gray claims that audience research about Good Morning proved he was a popular presenter. His axing from the show capped off a bad 2009 for him, after his long-term relationship ended, and four friends tested positive for HIV, he told the Woman's Day.
Gray's last day as presenter on Good Morning was Friday 11 December, where he left with no fanfare. The show is tipped to return in February.