A TV newsreader has been taken off air after a video blooper went viral. Natasha Exelby was caught twiddling with her pen while anchoring ABC News in Australia.

She reacted to the realisation she was on-air with a wide-mouthed gasp before regaining her composure and segueing into the next item.

A 12 second clip of the incident has been viewed millions of times around the world, much to the embarrassment of Exelby and the network.

The Australian Daily Telegraph reported that Exelby had been axed by ABC as a result of the blooper.

However, bosses have now moved to contradict these claims and say that while she is currently off-air it is not because she is being punished.

Gaven Morris, director of ABC, told The Guardian: "Live television is a demanding art and slip-ups will happen – our presenters are humans, not robots.

"We take on-air standards extremely seriously, but we don't expect perfection. No one would ever be punished for a blooper and, while it isn't appropriate to publicly discuss confidential details of people's personal work arrangements, this has not happened to Natasha.

"While she is not currently doing any on-air shifts, this will be subject to normal performance management. I have spoken to Natasha and conveyed our regret that this has attracted such attention."

Exelby has form for live bloopers. A video uploaded to Youtube in June 2013 shows her giggling flirtatiously with a studio guest as she tries to report on deadly Brazilian slum violence.

Other journalists rallied to her defence after the most recent incident – many of them sharing embarrassing moments from their own careers on Twitter.

The Exelby incident has also prompted social media users to dredge up famous newsroom bloopers from the past. Chief among them is a clip of Indonesian-born Australian news presenter Lee Lin Chin anchoring SBS News.

While a news package from Kabul is being played, Chin can be heard off-screen commenting on the English reporter: "Who's that handsome..." she says, before the camera cuts to her and she realises she has been heard.