Reporter Tara Brown, producer Stephen Rice, sound recordist David Bellament and cameraman Ben Williamson are free today, after Channel Nine shelled out what some believe to be $3 million to secure their release from a Beirut prison. Now the spin begins.

Nine paid a considerable amount of money to facilitate a serious crime, that of kidnapping two young children. What will it do with the resulting footage and its employees’ harrowing story of derring-do? It is illegal in Australia to benefit from the proceeds of crime — but it seems unlikely the police will be able to quantify and confiscate the considerable ratings bump 60 Minutes would enjoy from putting this tawdry tale to air.

Will Nine apologise for causing an international incident, kidnapping two small children, terrifying their father and grandmother and landing their mother in jail? Will the station let the matter drop now, copping the $3 million on the chin as a warning to stay away from such tabloid intervention in future?

We’re not holding our breath.

Peter Fray

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