The Corby family has been a blessing and a curse for the heavies of Australia’s media.

Seven must be wondering about their entanglement with Mercedes Corby and mother Roseleigh. In fact, Crikey understands that network executives have been divided over the Today Tonight-Jodi Power allegations ever since the program went to air. While it achieved the desired strong ratings for the first program of 2007, it has certainly come back to bite its supporters, with recriminations internally.

And what about Nine? It showed the first part of Schapelle Corby The Hidden Truth last night (part two is Tuesday night) but its Sunday program, 60 Minutes and A Current Affair have all been led down the garden path in their various dealings with the Corbys.

It’s all about ratings of course. The Hidden Truth averaged just over 1.6 million viewers from 8.30pm to around 10.30pm and helped Nine to a solid win on the night. The show shot down the “baggage handler” defence, with Corby’s former Gold Coast solicitor fessing up to inventing the whole thing. It left questions for all Australia media, especially the Seven and Nine Networks which have used the Corby case in their bitter battle for current affairs and news supremacy from 2005 onwards.

The question now is just what should we believe about the whole story?

Take this story from the Sunday program about the now discredited baggage handler claims. It didn’t end there of course. A Current Affair paid airfares and other incidentals to the Corby family during the time of the trial in 2005 and 2006 and has been close to the family, even providing a counter to the allegations about Mercedes aired on Seven’s Today Tonight at the start of last year, which ended up costing Seven a lot of money.

Some at Seven are now wondering what the result would have been in the Mercedes Corby defamation action if the doco had screened before that case started (or during it). Would it have been aired? Or would the Corby legal team have sought an Underbelly-style injunction to prevent it screening?

There have been internal mutterings at Seven about how the defamation defence was conducted. Nine’s Corby doco and its claim about the bodgy baggage handlers’ defence from the former lawyer will only add to these wonderings. What if his claim was public knowledge before the court action started in the Corby defo trial?

People at Seven are wondering why the defence team didn’t dig deeper to get the lawyer on tape.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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