Outrage As Nine Pay $2 Million For Cleo Abduction Exclusive
Serious issues have been raised at the news the Nine Network are set to pay the family of four-year-old Cleo Smith as much as $2 million for an exclusive interview, believed to make it the largest deal in Australian television history.
Bringing back the old days of checkbook journalism, and sure be a ratings smash, the deal was struck by publicist Max Markson and is expected to include a television interview with 60 Minutes, written stories, clips on the nightly news, and a podcast.
Cleo went missing from the family’s tent at Quobba Blowholes campground on the north-west coast of Western Australia in the early hours of October 16 last year.
The story captivated and concerned Australia through the intense 18-day search before she was found alone, inside a locked home about 50 minutes south of where she had gone missing.
Police reported she had not been physically harmed. A 36-year-old man had allegedly kept her in his home, where she was found playing with dolls.
He was charged with forcibly taking a child under the age of 16 and will appear in court later this month.
Now, this deal will put the eyes of Australia back onto a little girl who has gone through a truly traumatic situation, a little girl who many believe should be left to heal.
To put the tell-all in perspective, Todd Russell and Brant Webb, who were trapped underground for two weeks in the Beaconsfield mine collapse, were paid around $1 million each to tell their tale, another one which had the country captivated.
Nine director of news and current affairs Darren Wick says the network is “honoured” the family have chosen them, adding, “From a 60 Minutes story to other opportunities, we will continue to support Cleo and her family as they go through the court process, and we take our legal obligations around reporting on Cleo’s story extremely seriously.”
In an interesting sidenote, there are reports that Cleo’s parents, after talking with other parents whose children have been put in the spotlight after traumatic experiences, are considering changing her name to protect her from unwanted attention in the future.