Is the Nine Network set to pay millions to
the Beaconsfield miners in an attempt to turn around its ailing
fortunes? Does Nine see the miners as a way to reposition itself, by
wrapping the whole network around their story of Australian mateship
and heroism?

Is Nine CEO Eddie McGuire prepared to invest an extraordinary amount –
the tip today is $6 million – not just for the miners’ story, but to
weld them to the network and make them into the new face of Nine?

Nine
is desperate. Even though it has fought back in the ratings since the
Commonwealth Games, it still isn’t leading. Ten is making up ground in
the important 25 to 54 group, which is where Nine has pinned its
revenue hopes this year. And after Seven comprehensively proved it was
the network people turn to for big news stories with the Beaconsfield
event, Nine needs a lot of help.

There is intense pressure on Nine’s owner PBL to come up with a circuit breaker. Are the miners that circuit breaker?

It’s
a risky move; the huge amounts of money will alienate a lot of people,
especially as the rescuers might not get anything. The family of the
dead miner, Larry Knight, need to be seen to be getting a generous
amount of money or the whole thing could blow up in Eddie McGuire’s
face.

And, anyway, how much of a risk is it really? If the $6
million package to the two miners included rights to news, current
affairs, magazines (Woman’s Day and Women’s Weekly are in
the PBL stable), book publishing and telemovie rights, plus the use of
Brant and Todd as “faces” of Nine, it is a big chunk but could be a
marketing coup.