It’s amazing what a bit of time on the ground, a winsome smile and some
dogged legwork can do. I hear that there’s an interesting story behind
the Channel Ten’s scoop last week of the video of the Bali Nine being
nicked at Denpasar Airport on the night of Sunday April 20 talking
about why they became involved, with the vision of police discovering
the drugs.

It seems the Ten reporter in Bali got in first after the ABC had asked
for the vision (reporter Peter Lloyd apparently), so how did this
happen? Well it seems Bali police asked a local TV cameraman to shoot
the footage. Ten found out who he was, tracked him down and did a deal.
Good, old-fashioned legwork.

Ten showed the footage on its news last Wednesday night and within a
hour Nine had whipped some vision off air to run around 40 seconds of
overlay for a piece a Nine reporter (one of two the Network has on
Bali) did as the first item on the Nine 6 pm News (Ten’s News goes to
air at 5 pm). Seven also used some of the Ten vision in its 6 pm
bulletin.

Both comprehensively scooped, although Seven also had a scoop
that night: the Schapelle Corby Judge 24 hours before handing down his
non-death penalty decision. Good, but swamped by Ten’s effort.

Over the weekend A Current Affair backed up with vision of the
unwrapping of one of the Nine in its promos. ACA and Nine’s Today show
are parading around Bali with relatives of at least two of the Bali
Nine, having paid air fares and accommodation.

Remember that Nine paid money to Schapelle Corby’s group last year for
legal expenses that got them an exclusive on 60 Minutes and appearances
on the News, Today and ACA. Corby has now been forgotten as the Bali
Nine become the story.

Meanwhile here’s a beaut yarn about budget cutting at Nine News.

On Saturday Nine and ABC cameras in Denpasar recorded the heroin
smuggling suspect Martin Stephens claiming his life and that of his
family had been threatened by the syndicate leaders, allegedly in order
to make him carry the drug to Australia. Nine producers at
Willoughby banged an “exclusive” tag on their story for the 6 pm news.

Reacting, Max called his reporter on the ground Adam Walters and
instructed him to take the large Nine News team out to dinner to
celebrate. And celebrate they did, running up a bill of more than a
grand on the Amex Corporate Gold Card, at Bali’s best eatery, Ku De Ta.

So how then did Max Uechtritz react at 7 pm on Saturday when he tuned
in to the old channel, the ABC News and found correspondent Peter Lloyd
in Bali reporting the same story, using the same pictures recorded by
the ABC cameraman who was standing next to Nine’s at the prison?

But there’s more that made Max’s Saturday evening miserable. Lloyd’s
story included genuinely exclusive material of General Pastika, the
former head of the Bali bombing investigation, now head of Bali Police,
revealing that there are smuggling suspects still at large, and
confirming that the Federal Police hunting the syndicate leaders in
Australia will be allowed to come to Bali to meet the suspects but only
under the jurisdiction of local coppers.

So much for exclusivity.

The winners so far on Bali, Ten and the ABC. Nine, well they are always good followers and carry a big chequebook!

Peter Fray

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