Seven appears to have landed the exclusive interview with Schapelle Corby after a bidding war between them, Nine, Ten and magazine groups Bauer and Pacific Magazines.
After being released today, Corby was picked up by Seven’s Sunday Night reporter Mike Willesee and whisked away to a secret location, following a fierce bidding war which erupted when the news Corby was set to be paroled broke on Friday.
Seven has also been given access to Corby’s mother Ros’ home on the Gold Coast to see a group of supporters toasting the release of her daughter after seven years.
Channel Seven is refusing to confirm a deal has been done, but rival outlets are suggesting they have secured an exclusive interview, with figures between $1m and $3m quoted for the rights. Industry sources have suggested the family has demanded a minimum of $2m.
The story is a coup for Seven which has been looking to bolster Sunday Night after rejigging its news department and moving Helen Kapalos from Today Tonight to the show, and focusing host Chris Bath on it.
It is understood other networks had not had a chance to present their offers to the family before the deal was confirmed, with speculation the deal had been sealed some months ago, and kept so secret at the network even reporters covering events in Bali were unaware of it.
Nine’s decision to air the Schapelle docudrama about the incident last night is also believed to have angered the family, who had previously opposed it being made, and may have put them at a disadvantage. The show got just over a million metropolitan viewers pitted against Seven’s major telemovie of the year INXS: Never Tear Us Apart.
However, Seven is also seen as something of a surprise winner, after it was forced to pay damages in to Schapelle’s sister Mercedes after a jury found she had been defamed by Today Tonight. It is not clear whether any deal would involve rights for magazines from Seven West Media’s stable Pacific Magazines, which includes magazines including WHO, That’s Life and Famous.
A fortnight ago Seven dumped Today Tonight from the schedules on the east coast where it ramped up its news offering with a one hour bulletin in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane this month as part of a push to bolster current affairs against a resurgent Nine.
Both Seven and Nine had promoted rolling coverage of Corby’s release with Seven stationing reporters Melissa Doyle, Robert Ovadia and Grant Taylor outside the Kerobakan Prison and outside of Mercedes Corby’s home in Bali, as well as sending Sunrise correspondent Michelle Tapper to Bali to provide coverage.
Nine’s rolling coverage started on Friday with Peter Overton providing an overview of the case and commentary, reporting and analysis from Mark Burrows, Tracy Vo, Michael Best and Chris Allen in Bali, with Lizzie Pearl in Jakarata.