The plot thickens. Now we learn that the
Nine Network arranged for one of the Beaconsfield rescue party to
smuggle a camera underground to film the two trapped miners in their
confined space for the best part of nine days, according to this
disclosure in today’s Bulletin magazine, owned by ACP, a stablemate of Nine:

Media executives have done battle over the past week for the right to
pay millions because the scene we describe here was perfectly real.
More: it was filmed by the two prisoners themselves, who recorded
scores of hours of their entrapment on a tiny digital camera.

It
was a “lipstick” camera, the sort that can be inserted into a briefcase
or a hole in a wall and used by TV current affairs shows secretly to
record the conversations and behaviour of confidence tricksters. The Bulletin
understands that this camera, linked by coaxial cable to screens and
recording devices through the pipe bored by rescuers, is owned by the
Nine Network.

The images it recorded are now the real
battleground. Held tightly by the management of the Beaconsfield
goldmine, all the circumstances of the rescue are in the hands of a
coroner who must inquire into the events that left the two men trapped
and another dead.

But the TV networks want them. Desperately.
Those pictures – of two men in a cage 925m beneath the earth, joking
and singing to keep their spirits up, whispering their secrets to
paramedics and comrades through their pipeline, assisting their
rescuers to know precisely the conditions they faced – are unique. They
are the real reason millions of dollars are being offered.

No-one in the world, apart from those in the mine monitoring the drama in
real time, has seen video like this. The men themselves contend the
images belong to them, because they held the camera and recorded
everything.

When there were rumours during the rescue that a Nine producer had
offered $10,000 to a miner to take a camera into the mine, Nine laughed
it off as a joking pub offer. And AWU secretary Bill Shorten said in
one of his media briefings that was the reason why security officers
had been searching the miners’ bags before the rescue teams went down
the mine each shift.

So
did Bill Shorten know the camera was taken down the mine by one of the
rescuers, presumably a member of his union? Did the mine management
know?

After all, the footage from that camera makes the $3 million-or-so paid
by Nine worth every cent – and probably a bit more if Nine can claim
the copyright and on sell the vision around the world.

That would be Eddie McGuire’s real coup.