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Nov 9, 2011

'Bali boy' in grubby TV rights deal: are Nine's cameras ready to roll?

Has the Nine Network opened its chequebook for the family of the now infamous "Bali boy"? The agent and the network aren't talking, but network rivals insist it's been done.

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On Sunday it was a done deal …

By yesterday it was all a beat-up …

And today nobody is talking about whether the Nine Network has opened its chequebook for the family of the now infamous “Bali boy”. Except television rivals, who insist the deal has been done and cameras are set to roll once the teenager accused of marijuana possession has been judged.

Nine issued a terse “no comment” to Crikey this morning after repeated requests to clarify recent denials that a deal has been signed. But Channel Seven’s veteran news boss Peter Meakin insists the contract was signed last week.

Meakin told Crikey yesterday Seven was sounded out about a chat with the family for its Sunday Night program but refused to pay a fee given it was a criminal case. “We said we were interested but not using money,” he said.

A Seven source confirms: “That was our decision from the get-go.”

And anyway, Meakin said he couldn’t see the value in an interview before any conviction and one that couldn’t name the minor in question: “I didn’t think there was much appeal in running an interview without disclosing his identity.”

According to a source involved at one point in the negotiations, celebrity agent Grant Vandenberg approached the networks in early October, soon after the 14-year-old was arrested, with a starting price of “at least $100,000”. A joint media deal was suggested, with interviews on television and in a magazine.

The weekend reports from unnamed sources at Nine suggest a $300,000 deal, with an interview to run on 60 Minutes and Nine Entertainment Co title Women’s Day.

Vandenberg, who said yesterday a deal with Nine is yet to be signed, wasn’t returning calls this morning. The former corporate spinner and freelance agent has 2GB hot head Alan Jones and Oscar winner Russell Crowe on his books, and represented former Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld during his legal troubles.

Parents of the NSW teenager issued a statement yesterday through the boy’s lawyers “vigorously” denying they have sealed any media deal that would profit from their “son’s misfortune”. The statement said the father is a successful businessman who ”does not need the money that has been suggested”.

One source says a deal may have unravelled after the leak to the media, when the parents realised they may not be able to keep the proceeds due to laws against profiting from crime and that it may jeopardise chances for a light sentence.

“From the Indonesian perspective, they’re no doubt thinking that they have bent over backwards — personal intercession from the Justice Minister, expedited court case, better conditions than most, etc — and, in the light of all of this, to see the boy and his family likely profiting from the crime has/will no doubt tick them off,” they suggested.

“So what might well have happened is that when the shit hit the fan on Sunday and the worst consequences became starkly apparent everyone decided to deny everything. Which, if these suspicions are true, is probably where we are now.”

Another scenario being suggested is Vandenberg struck a deal with Nine through network spinner David Hurley, who is believed to be close to the agent, without telling the family. Hurley told other media yesterday there is “categorically no deal”.

Prosecutors will recommend a sentence for the NSW teenager on Friday. He was found with 3.6 grams of cannabis and is pleading for no charges to be laid.

Jason Whittaker Whittaker —

Jason Whittaker Whittaker

The Mandarin managing editor and former Crikey editor

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36 thoughts on “‘Bali boy’ in grubby TV rights deal: are Nine’s cameras ready to roll?

  1. dogspear

    Dang, this thread is probably lost forever, but as Dr Smithy says, smoking the green stuff (whole leaves or flowers) was almost non-existent in places like India and the Middle East and was certainly frowned upon. Smoking hash (ie just the resin) was somewhat widely encouraged. This refers to the plant Cannabis _indica_.

    From what I can gather though, Cannabis _sativa_ (big sparse plants requiring a long growing season) from the tropics of Africa (and later places like South America and Jamaica) has a long history of being smoked wholus bolus (flowers just dried and smoked).

    Not sure about the exact pharmacological or cultural reasons behind this, but one species was consumed and further bred to be consumed a particular way and the other species another. Maybe it is a fungal or bacterial consideration (Indicas are prone to mould as they come from dry/ cold climates) or maybe something entirely different, but it bears consideration.

    Today’s commercial hydroponic or other artificial light using clandestine grows use predominantly Indica hybrids because of the compact nature and shorter growing cycle. Sativa crossing adds a different high and possibly some fungal resistance. Most of today’s commercial plants have a completely different cannabinoid profile to anything known in human history, completely different pathological issues (and cures) and a whole new breed of grower that generally just wants money.

    Let everyone grow, breed and study plants in their backyard as nature does and bingo, the problems will quickly evaporate.

  2. Liz45

    @Hugh McColl – If I was his mother and knew of his addiction to marijuana, we’d never end up in Bali? I’d be too scared! But I’m in no way judging these parents. My sister once said a very wise thing while we were raising our own kids -‘never run down other peoples’ kids, you never know what your own might bring to your door’? Indeed! Good advice!

    @WHISTLEBLOWER – APHRA is correct about Julia Gillard. It’s the job of Foreign Affairs to care for people overseas who end up before the Law. The media don’t tell us the whole story – truth tends to take the ‘shine’ off their headlines. I thought you’d be more savvy than this!

    If both these people hadn’t taken an interest or played a supportive role, you’d be accusing them of letting people rot in jail blah blah! Their involvement was correct. In fact, seeing he’s only a child I’d expect nothing less of them. Children are citizens too you know!

    My heart goes out to the whole family. When(I hope?) they arrive home, they should be left alone to seek counselling etc as they require – but LEFT ALONE!

    If I was the Attorney General I’d tell them and the relevant TV network(if it’s true re a story) that it’s not appropriate and could be detrimental to the young boy!

    If I was Julia Gillard I’d be making sure that Indonesian boys in our jails are also sent home – not left to languish in adult jails among awful criminals who could abuse them! That’s what I’m critical of our Govt for! Let’s make sure all underage kids are protected – not just Aussie kids!

    @VIKING – Not only is cannabis addictive, but recent research now shows, that relying on this drug over a period of years could bring on a more serious mental illness/disease in later life – as a young adult perhaps! I suggest you do some research – it’s far from a harmless drug – even taking out the risk of lung disease as with ordinary cigarettes!

    Even if he is guilty – it’s only a small amount, and he is only a BOY. In Australia he’d be cautioned, and the police hopefully would have a discussion with his parents???As a parent, I was responsible for my boys when they were under 17, or is it 18 now?

  3. Whistleblower

    The really revolting thing about this whole sordid business is that programs like 60 Minutes hold up a mirror to society and it’s not a good look. In order to flog tampons and toothpaste, the media will prostitute itself and degrade any decency standard in order to gain the attention of the fickle consuming public.

    They know that the public as voyeurs will tune in to the program in exploiting this situations and the advertising sales managers will rub their hands with glee. The situation has some parallels with the death of Princess Dianawhere reportedly advertising executives in one of our major television channels were jumping for joy at the prospect of the tripling of spot advertising rates as a consequence of the attention surrounding her death.

    It will be interesting to see the outcome in view of the “weasel worded” denials from Channel 9 and representatives of the so-called “Bali boy’s” family as to what deal has actually been struck, and the extent to which all players in this sordid affair tell porkies to cover their tracks.

    If I was a member of the Indonesian judiciary involved in this case I would be outraged at the prospect of a defendant subject to criminal proceedings profiting so massively from the situation of the application of Indonesian justice. This includes whole of the voyeuristic Australian media and associated political apparatchiks including both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs prostituting themselves in a populist vote buying exercise. Now that the carpetbaggers have moved in I would be even more revolted.

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