- February 18, 2014
SCHAPELLE Corby’s release from prison last Monday set off an intense week for both the Corby family and the Channel 7 network.
For a time, it appeared Seven had paid handsomely for what would undoubtedly be the biggest TV interview of the year.
Now, little over a week later, Seven’s offices are being raided by the Australian Federal Police and the likelihood of the interview taking place is diminishing, as the Corby family agree to cooperate with the Indonesian authorities.
The whole thing is quickly becoming one of the biggest media furores in recent times.
“You have to be careful what you wish for,” Head of News & Current Affairs for Channel Nine, Darren Wick, told news.com.au.
“We’re not in the business of gloating, but there’s clearly been a backlash of public opinion within Bali and Indonesia.
There is a cost for an interview like this and it’s not just financial, it’s damage to the brand also, it’s messy. This is one of those cases where we are happy to sit on the sidelines.”
Wick described the AFP raid on Seven as “extraordinary”, but he believes Seven could well have paid the reported $2-3 million in a packaged deal.
“While we’d love to have the interview — we never got to make an offer, mind you — my bosses here, David Gyngell etc, have always expressed caution.
There’s always a limit to everything and there’s no way we’d want to try to find those millions at the expense of someone else’s job.”
An industry source echoed Wick’s sentiments to news.com.au, adding: “We call it the ‘Curse of the Corbys’ — everyone gets burned, everything goes arse up”.
But according to Steve Allen from marketing and brand strategist agency Fusion Strategy, today’s raid will have absolutely “no effect” on the perception of the Seven Network to their wide and varied audience.
“No, not at all, no effect,’’ he told news.com.au. “I can understand that the AFP would be interested in what has (gone on) but I still don’t understand why the AFP has done this. It remains a real mystery.”
Media lawyer Justin Quill from Kelly Hazell Quill told news.com.au that the raid by the Federal Police was most likely a “fact finding mission” to see what has and has not been paid to Corby,
but added that it seemed “heavy handed” and that there are less intrusive ways of gathering information.
“The first point of call is usually to request information,” explained Mr Quill. “If there is no response then you can go through the correct authorities.”
“There is nothing illegal in Channel 7 paying for the (Corby) interview. I see it like paying for a Beyoncé interview. It’s just entertainment.
The only real criticism is that they are paying a convicted drug trafficker so the proceeds might be seized once she receives them.”
When asked whether other television stations must be rubbing their hands together with glee over the latest developments in the Corby interview saga, Mr Quill said: “I’m sure they are.”
Many have questioned how Corby’s payment could be blocked under the Proceeds of Crime Act, given her crime occured on foreign soil.
news.com.au understand that any benefit derived by Corby would likely fall within the definition of “literary proceeds” under the Act.
Literary proceeds is defined to include any “benefit that a person derives from the commercial exploitation of the person’s notoriety resulting, directly or indirectly,
from the person committing an indictable offence or a foreign indictable offence.”
It’s also worth noting, given the pressure exerted in the past week from Indonesian government officials seeking to block the interview,
that Indonesia is ranked 132nd in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index. Australia is ranked at number 28.
So how did it all go so wrong for Seven?
Here’s a recap of the dramatic events of the past week:
with a fleet of four private cars and security guards.
Media reports state that Corby is being paid up to $2 million dollars by Channel 7 to tell her story.
The Seven network’s biggest star, David Koch, slams the network’s decision to pay Corby while on air presenting the Sunrise program.
“I reckon we should have nothing to do with her as a network,” Koch says.
“I totally disagree with paying a convicted drug smuggler $2 million. I know Indonesia is corrupt and all that sort of stuff, but she is convicted.”
Later he refers again to the controversial payment in a call-out to viewers to enter the show’s cash giveaway competition.
“How would you like to win some Mega Cool cash without spending time in an overseas jail?,” he asks.
Corby’s parole team visit her at the Sentosa Seminyak resort where she is staying, where they spoke to her sister Mercedes and brother-in-law Wayan Widyartha.
The governor of Kerobokan Prison, Farid Junaedi, tells the Denpost newspaper that Corby would be “stupid” to do a paid interview.
“On parole, she is still considered as a prisoner, though she’s free and outside,” he is quoted as saying.
“I’ve made it clear to the family that if she’s willing to be interviewed, that would be stupid of her.”
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman also warns that his government would seek to prevent Corby from profiting from her situation.
Corby is warned by Indonesia’s Deputy Justice Minister not to conduct a tell-all interview or face having her parole being revoked.
Speaking in Bali, Denny Indrayana says any interview could cause unease in the community which could be a breach of her parole.
He says he is echoing the thoughts of the Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin, with whom he has discussed the matter.
Nurses attend the luxury resort where Schapelle Corby is staying under the name of ‘Jodie Hawkins’. Channel 7 staff including Sunday Night producer Andy Byrne
and a number of their personal security detail are seen separately leaving and returning to the resort.
Byrne says he does not know if veteran journalist Mike Willesee’s interview with Corby will still go ahead, but refuses to answer further questions.
Channel 7’s Sydney headquarters are raided by the Australian Federal Police, with officers searching for anything relating to Corby.
The television network’s cameras filmed the raids at the Jones Bay Wharf offices, which were carried out by Australian Federal Police officers.
It is understood the raid is relating to any material or documentation involving the network and the Corbys and any rumoured paid interviews.
The network’s Martin Place offices are also understood to have been raided.
Sunday Night Executive Producer Mark Llewellyn was contacted for comment but has not responded to news.com.au’s calls.
Has the Corby interview saga harmed Seven? Have your say in the comments below.