Choppergate: Nine admits to second faked helicopter live cross

Nine News has promised a full investigation after admitting that it faked another live cross to the network’s chopper while reporting on the search for Daniel Morcombe.

As Mumbrella revealed yesterday, a live cross to the Nine News helicopter purported to show the chopper “near Beerwah”.

In truth it was on the ground at the Nine helipad, with its lights switched off. A rival network captured footage of it and passed it on to Mumbrella. Nine owned up, blaming bad weather leading to a return to base.

nine Chopper and Live cross webtrak

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It today emerged that a second live cross to Melissa Mallet, the day before, had also been faked after Airservices Australia flight tracker data showed that the helicopter was again nowhere near Beerwah at the time of the cross, despite a caption saying otherwise. The chopper orbited Nine’s headquarters at Mt Coot-tha for about ten minutes prior to the cross, then hovered at just under 3000 ft above nearby Chapel Hill before almost immediately landing again.

Nine Brisbane’s news director Lee Anderson this afternoon issued this message to staff:

“Over the weekend we put to air two live crosses which purported to be from near Beerwah. This was not the case. That we mislead our viewers is totally unacceptable. This afternoon we issued the following public statement:

During Saturday and Sunday night’s Brisbane bulletin we crossed live to a reporter in our helicopter updating the Daniel Morcombe case.   

“On both occasions we said the helicopter was near Beerwah. This was not the case. The fact that the location was misreported is totally unacceptable. We have launched a thorough investigation into all the facts surrounding these reports. Independent of the outcome of that investigation and the action which flows from it , Nine News affirms its unequivocal commitment to complete accuracy in News reporting and to maintaining the trust of our viewers. Nothing less will be tolerated.

“We are determined that such an incident never happen again. To make sure of this we are taking a detailed look at how it occurred.

“Please always, always, always, take extreme care on all matters of accuracy and raise any concerns, however minor you think they might be.”

In both cases the news reader was Eva Milic. The reporter for the faked cross reported yesterday was Cameron Price. The reporter on the fake cross revealed today was Melissa Mallet.


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