by Glenn Dyer

It’s amazing how many of this morning’s papers missed the key reasons
why the Wood family did the now controversial deal with Ten to tell his
story next Sunday night with Sandra Sully. It’s all about control, and
the deal struck between Ten and Douglas Woods’ managers, will change
the nature of chequebook journalism and place greater control in the
hands of the talent and not the media outlet.

It will mean we will have less chance of obtaining a full independent,
explainable version of these stories, starting with Douglas Wood. From
next Sunday night, viewers of the Wood special will need to bear in
mind that it’s not independent in any way, like 60 Minutes or Today Tonight or Four Corners would be: that it is an officially sanctioned version of the story, and no more.

For The Australian which has a specialist media section and
writers to miss the key point was astounding. Here’s the Tuesday story
on the interview
(http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,15677482%255E7582,00.html).
Compare that to the detail rich story in the Melbourne Age
(http://www.theage.com.au/news/iraq/chequebook-hostage/2005/06/21/1119250935551.html)
which the slow movers at the Sydney Snoring Herald didn’t take and
instead used their
own(http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/thanks-but-the-story-will-have-to-wait/2005/06/20/1119250928575.html).

Apart from the Age all missed why the deal was struck with Ten.
Co-Production, between Ten and the Woods agent, Profile Talent
Management and lawyer, Mark Klemens. That will give the Woods interests
far greater control over the finished product, a say in how it looks,
the questions and disclosure. Ten has given up total control over the
project to produce it in such a fashion. That’s why Woods went with
Ten. Ten doesn’t have a strong history of independent current affairs
that saw Seven and Nine both offer to do it THEMSELVES.

Seven didn’t offer any money, but said Today Tonight and then New Idea.
Nine offered 60 Minutes (and had it all but in the bag until the Ten
Co-Pro idea and more money surfaced) and ACP magazines. It’s not that
the co-pro was any secret for the other papers: it was in the joint
press released issued by Ten and PTM Monday afternoon:

“Profile Talent Management, which has enjoyed exclusive access to Mr
Wood since his capture by US and Iraqi forces, will jointly produce the
program with TEN News.” The Age and TV sources say the TEN big was
around $400,000, but the co-pro makes that difficult to work out.
Because of revenue sharing deals from any on sales, Ten could have bid
low and offered PTM a bigger share of revenues at the back end from any
on sales, say to the US.

Even though there are some sour grapes, both Nine and Seven sources say
the Co-Pro deal is a new trend in chequebook journalism. They will not
welcome it because it will take total control away from the Networks.
The other managers such as Harry M. Miller will be quick to seize on
that, as will the Schapelle Corby interests (who have retained Miller).

Now just imagine a Corby interview or special that didn’t canvass all
the stories because Miller and his clients didn’t want them covered
because they were too sensitive. It’s a possibility and the Ten Network
by agreeing to this deal, has blown a big hole in the comfy word of the
chequebooks! Meanwhile, the Greens have led the now predictable charge
to demand that Wood and his family repay some of the costs of his
recovery, now that he’s sold his story
(http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,15681844-2,00.html ).

Judging by talkback radio commentary in Sydney Monday and Tuesday it’s not going to go away.