The echo of cash registers rang louder with each day that Todd Russell and Brant Webb remained trapped in the Beaconsfield gold mine. And as images were beamed around the world of Russell and Webb walking free into the open arms of their wives, children and Sunrise’s David Koch, out of the glare of the media orgy stepped one man with a very fat chequebook – new head of Channel Nine Eddie McGuire. The ex Millionaire host made sure he got plenty of bang for his buck — the exclusive deal with Channel Nine and ACP magazines netted the miners $2.6 million and landed Eddie his first big coup: a two-hour special and exclusive interview with ACA’s Tracy Grimshaw that included 24 minutes of commercials (for which Nine is believed to have generated $2 million in revenue) with companies paying up to $100,000 (50% more than the usual rate) for a 30-second ad. Add to that the “special Nine Network goodwill event”, a charity concert in Beaconsfield broadcast during The Footy Show and Packer’s magazine arm carve-up of the story over three titles: The Bulletin, Woman’s Day and The Australian Women’s Weekly. And to think Diane Sawyer didn’t have to pay a cent for her interview, just a promise to hook the heroes up with a book and movie deal which so far, ahem, hasn’t been forthcoming.

2005 Winners: Three joint winners. Woman’s Day for stealing the Lleyton, Bec ‘n’ baby Mia package right from under New Idea‘s noses, the Ten Network for the $400,000+ interview with Douglas Wood and the woman-in-boot Korp family for trying to sell a story that even Today Tonight wouldn’t touch.