Choppergate: Nine News admits faking live cross from helicopter

Nine News faked a live cross from its chopper last night, when the aircraft was in reality on the helipad at its Brisbane headquarters. The network told Mumbrella it happened after bad weather forced the helicopter to return to base.

cameron price


eva milic


The 6pm bulletin in Brisbane featured a live cross between presenter Eva Milic and reporter Cameron Price on board the Nine News chopper. Viewers were told in the caption that he was “near Beerwah”, the site where murdered Daniel Morcombe’s body was believed to have been found.

Becasue of the darkness outside, there were no external clues as to the helicopter’s whereabouts.

Rival networks Seven, Ten and the ABC are also based near the Nine helipad at Mt Coot-Tha. One of them filmed a Nine News chopper at one end of the helipad, in darkness, as Milic told viewers that Price was  “near the search site”.  

Beerwah is about 90km north of the Nine News helipad.

The video shows the helicopter turn its main lights on about 20 seconds after the live cross comes to an end before the chopper moves to the other end of the helipad.

A spokesman for Nine told Mumbrella:

“Our chopper was forced to divert from Beerwah due to bad weather, and air control instructed them to touch down.

“Seven know this because they have a camera permanently monitoring our pad.

“The decision was made by the pilot on safety grounds. The producer was unaware until it was too late to abort or delay the cross.”


  1. Mike
    22 Aug 11
    2:09 pm

  2. It’s hardly a fake i.e. a set up – it was forced to be grounded by the pilot for safety reasons

  3. Ricki
    22 Aug 11
    2:34 pm

  4. What stopped Cameron Price from clarifying that they were in fact grounded, and not near Beerwah?

  5. AdGrunt
    22 Aug 11
    2:38 pm

  6. But the cross was a live one, to a helicopter, near the scene.

    Economical with the truth, rather than faking, surely? Certainly well within BAU for commercial TV in Australia.

    Which pales somewhat with the rather morbid long-lens approach to the story itself.

  7. TL
    22 Aug 11
    2:39 pm

  8. Faking is bad. But the whole “live cross” thing is getting just as bad. In all honesty, what was the chopper going to show us? A bit of dirt, and some tarps as the SES workers continue searching underneath – if that (given its dark, probably nothing woul dhave been visable). Nothing groundbreaking. It is the same scene we have seen for a week now.

    Please networks, only do a live cross to the scene if there is any action. If there is nothing, save the cash and carbon burning. Last night’s fake cross shows that a real cross doesn’t make a lick of difference to the quality of the program in the audience’s mind.

  9. AdGrunt
    22 Aug 11
    3:20 pm

  10. TL – the reason is that if you ask punters if they prefer “live” and “on-the-spot” TV to recorded or studio stories, “live” and “on the spot” gets the big thumbs up (obviously)

    They don’t ask if punters would prefer this even if it’s contrived, pointless or tedious as it has now become. Which is a shame, as then they’d get a resounding no and this silliness would end.

    Funniest examples of this are the Sunrise (and others) who have a live cross to “Sydney” or “Newsroom” when the person is 3m away in Martin Place and sometimes you can see the other party in the background to boot.

    Ten used to do this a lot with evening news stories, especially sports ones, with the poor hack shivering outside the Pyrmont offices, delivering their reports “live” some 5m from a warm and cosy news room.

    This insight has been dragged to the nth degree with the 24 hour news channels where even a fart warrants a “Breaking News” banner as an hour of solid news has to be smeared (very) thinly across 24.

  11. mumbrella
    22 Aug 11
    3:40 pm

  12. I have to put my hand up to that one, Adgrunt. On a couple of occasions, I’ve done a live cross as a pundit from Seven’s news room to the Sunrise or Morning Show couch a floor below.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  13. Adam Paull
    22 Aug 11
    4:18 pm

  14. This sort of ‘fakery’ has been going on for years, but it’s a bit rich for Seven to be claiming the moral high ground.

    I remember seeing 7’s Tony Squires in Sydney reading the sports news live from Dawes Point near the Harbour Bridge in total darkness cross ‘live’ to a reporter 500m away at the Opera House – which was of course bathed in sunshine. Neat trick.

    My personal favourite was in the mid 90’s – a Ch9 ‘Today’ show producer caused quite a stir internally when they insisted the show cross live to a reporter at the Belanglo State Forest during the famed backpacker murders. Only problem was the reporter was in the Ch9 carpark in Willoughby.

    At least he was standing in front of a tree.

    Disgruntled crew were told not to worry as “no one would know”.

    Remember television producers – not all of your audience are idiots (although the ratio is decreasing for some reason…)

  15. JoeTV
    22 Aug 11
    4:53 pm

  16. Funny how channel 7 is bringing this up. Every other night they have a ‘live’ cross that is so obviously pre-recorded. They all do it, and isn’t that being just as deceiving to viewers, especially when it happens on an on-going basis? This one isn’t good, but at least it appears a one-off, and there seemed a genuine reason for the chopper coming back.

  17. Brian
    22 Aug 11
    5:18 pm

  18. Weather looked really nice outside to me…. Pretty sure helicopters are quiet loud and would be hard for people at channel 9 to not notice one hovering over the newsroom carpark for 20 minutes…..

  19. David Packard
    22 Aug 11
    5:54 pm

  20. Nine compounds its deception by lying in its official response. “Air Control” – whatever that is – does not instruct pilots to “touch down”. That’s the pilot’s call. Pilots know the weather conditions well before they arrive, so it’s extremely doubtful the helicopter was “diverted” from Beerwah. Chances are it never got near the place. And even if the aircraft was diverted from Beerwah, that’s a least a 25 minute flight back to the helipad. I work in television news and there is NO WAY KNOWN the producer would not have been aware of precisely what was going on. “Too late to abort or delay the cross…?” Absolute crap.

  21. Ann
    22 Aug 11
    6:26 pm

  22. Ouch…….

  23. Davo
    22 Aug 11
    6:28 pm

  24. Does anyone else think it’s a bit suss that channel 7 has a camera permanently watching the 9 chopper pad?

  25. Groucho
    22 Aug 11
    6:29 pm

  26. This all begs the question : can anything from Channel 9 be trusted?

    The quest for ratings, for drama, and so called exclusives has eroded quality and credibility to an alarming degree. This deception is indefensible and we can only assume people posting a defence for it are Channel 9 planys.

  27. Graham
    22 Aug 11
    6:37 pm

  28. We now cross live to Videotape 2

  29. Bobby
    22 Aug 11
    6:40 pm

  30. Ahh – it’s harmless ..

  31. Alex
    22 Aug 11
    8:19 pm

  32. Pretty sure everyone posting comments here works for either Nine or Seven… and no one else cares….

  33. AdGrunt
    22 Aug 11
    8:34 pm

  34. Oh…

  35. Ryan
    22 Aug 11
    9:01 pm

  36. Cameron Price has as much journalistic integrity as an ACA or TT reporter. Will do anything for a cheap scoop, producer wouldn’t have encouraged him to fake it!

  37. Angela
    22 Aug 11
    10:26 pm

  38. This is rightly disturbing because if a news program is flexible with truth in its methods, it’s not a good sign for authenticity in the approach to content too. What really pissed me off last night was the block auction result being reported in the news bulletin. As a news item. Even Jo had the decency to look sullen at having to do it.

  39. Peter
    23 Aug 11
    12:31 am

  40. I won’t defend these guys, but to be honest most live crosses are completely superfluous anyway. This one is probably slightly less ethical than most, but viewers are never really served when reporters top-and-tail their reports “live from the scene” when in fact they’d already finished their packages hours before in the studio, as though standing out in the cold instantly makes them better journalists.

  41. Aaron
    23 Aug 11
    10:10 am

  42. Super should have read simply ” nine news helicopter”
    And stating that he had been to the scene that day..
    Complete bullshit..pretty sad really.

  43. Marcus Fitz-Gerald
    23 Aug 11
    10:56 am

  44. Ryan, your comment of 9:01pm shows a laughable level of ignorance – Cameron Price is a great asset to their Brisbane newsroom, a young journo whose skills & proficiency put to shame many in the business much older than him.

    Most high profile example of his work was the fact that Cameron & his crew were actually in Grantham during the flood and during the terrible night that descended upon them after the flood. The coverage by him & his crew were exemplary.

    In an age where young reporters are constantly criticised, (and rightly so, most of the dolly birds should flock off to PR and leave our TV screens alone) Cameron is of a rare breed that stands out as a great reporter. It is probably public knowledge by now, but in a further affirmation Ryan that your comment could not be more wrong, Cameron has been headhunted by their Sydney newsroom to add some much needed quality to their reporting team.

    This whole beat up has nothing to do with whether a producer encouraged anyone to do anything, directives from the top, beyond Brisbane, dictate a number of live crosses are needed per bulletin, the buck stops with the top, go shoot them and leave those following orders in Brisbane to get on and do a good job.

    And I’m happy to post under my real name, continue the conversation with me via Twitter.

  45. Tony Richarsdon
    23 Aug 11
    12:26 pm

  46. Surely someone off screen could have made a ‘wocka wocka wocka’ sound and avoided all this unpleasantness.

  47. Adam Paull
    23 Aug 11
    12:30 pm

  48. Marcus, I appreciate the fact that I don’t know Cameron, nor am I familiar with his work, but the fact that he’s happy to fake his location and lie to the audience doesn’t exactly fill the rest of us with confidence about his credentials. We should all keep in mind that this is supposed to be news – not some reality or game show with fake drama – and that credibility is the very foundation of a successful media news service.

    Or a journalistic career for that matter.

    Also, given that Nine producers and management know that Seven is watching via their camera, the decision to fake it is even more stupid.

  49. Anonymous
    23 Aug 11
    12:40 pm

  50. Looking forward to this week’s MediaWatch!

  51. Anonymous
    23 Aug 11
    12:50 pm

  52. The live cross to the chopper may have been real but was the footage. Frauds.

  53. billy
    23 Aug 11
    12:51 pm

  54. why not just watch SBS world news and be done with it……vote with your remote

  55. sven
    23 Aug 11
    12:59 pm

  56. are people here really complaining about infotainment on commercial TV news?

    what’s next, the sun will rise tomorrow?

    take it outside, 7 and 9 post-ers – to the carpark, the helipad, wherever

    the rest of us don’t care!

  57. JG
    23 Aug 11
    1:35 pm

  58. Davo, I’m pretty sure that camera focussed on the Nine helipad has been there quite some time. The logic is … hey look Nine’s chopper is going up … scramble and follow because there must be a news story breaking (or in the old days … The Goanna musthave hit town).

  59. Alex
    23 Aug 11
    1:56 pm

  60. Wow Marcus.. I think I just vomited

  61. Colin Stokes
    23 Aug 11
    2:36 pm

  62. The whole thing exposes just how lazy television reporting has become, or at least how irrelevant most reportage is to the actual news.

    Last night they had a live cross to some poor woman up at the Gap in the cold wind to report on what happened to Gordon Wood that day in court. Like someone was going to come along and try and fling a model into the ocean while she was there. Surely the relevant place for the report would be not live, at the courtroom.

    If the television newsfolk are so keen to create drama they should withdraw from journalism and start writing for Packed to the Rafters.

  63. Marcus Fitz-Gerald
    23 Aug 11
    2:52 pm

  64. Have fun Alex, play nicely in PR land now.

  65. Steve Wakeford
    23 Aug 11
    3:52 pm

  66. And you’re all shocked by this because…

  67. Amelia
    23 Aug 11
    5:38 pm

  68. “Seven know this because they have a camera permanently monitoring our pad.”

    haha – Seven, all about quality news

  69. Paul
    23 Aug 11
    9:11 pm

  70. “Near Beerwah”? Bloody miles from it.

  71. Louise
    24 Aug 11
    10:15 am

  72. This is common practice for commercial news networks. How is it that Ross Greenwood does live crosses during channel 9 news when his radio show is on, live, at the same time? They simply don’t have the capacity to do all the crosses they purport to do, in terms of satellite links.

  73. Hot Rod
    24 Aug 11
    1:33 pm

  74. zzzzzzzzzzzzz.. oh pls .. who cares, they are all(the jurno’s) just a bunch of poor sales reps(liars and con artists) looking for their next commission(story) to earn their keep !

  75. Jack
    24 Aug 11
    1:54 pm

  76. Honestly… WHO CARES??

  77. Alex
    24 Aug 11
    2:10 pm

  78. I don’t work in PR Marcus…

  79. Anonymous
    24 Aug 11
    4:23 pm

  80. jr
    24 Aug 11
    4:37 pm

  81. Presumably we expect the News to contain the truth, otherwise it might as well be pure fiction like A Current Affair

  82. Brad
    24 Aug 11
    8:13 pm

  83. One things for sure – channel 9 reporters/anchors/readers are so much hotter than 7..

    Well done channel 9!

  84. Warren Bond
    25 Aug 11
    9:17 pm

  85. “Cameron is of a rare breed that stands out as a great reporter” Really, Marcus? Shame Cameron lacked the integrity to say no when asked to fake it. But if you’re really convinced that he’s so wonderful, maybe you should offer to be a referee on his CV now that he’s been sacked for being such a great reporter.

  86. Justin
    25 Aug 11
    9:17 pm

  87. I watch the news every day. I have never noticed a live cross or what ever your all rubbishing on about. As a general member of the public it seems the only people who care are jurnos!! Grow up!!!!

  88. Arthur
    26 Aug 11
    9:58 pm

  89. Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practiced to deceive.
    They should not have only been sacked they should be charged for fraud and deception.

  90. Ella
    21 Sep 11
    1:55 pm

  91. Can we please stop making every little not that serious issue a “gate” that’s so 90’s dude ;P