Nine sticks to its guns over Choppergate

The Nine Network is sticking to its guns after dismissing three staff and accepting one resignation, following the “Choppergate” scandal.

While former employees are consulting legal advice, a source tells TV Tonight that Nine’s internal inquiry has revealed audio evidence of conversations between the sacked reporters and a producer. It was enough for them to act swiftly and firmly.

Mike Dalton from Nine in Sydney is understood to be assuming the Acting News Director role at QTQ following the resignation of Lee Anderson.

Today’s Courier Mail details how two Seven staff near the Mt. Coot-tha studios heard the Nine chopper on Saturday night despite Nine’s on-air bulletin alleging it was “Near Beerwah.” On Sunday night Seven even filmed the chopper on the Nine helipad.

Seven began advising media of the falsehoods on Monday. By Wednesday it had sourced data from Australian Airservice to confirm the location of the chopper on both evenings.

Nine initially attempted to explain away the Sunday night incident, claiming it had been ordered to touch down by air traffic control because of bad weather and the producer was unaware until it was too late.

But Sydney management responded with an internal inquiry later leading to the sacking of Melissa Mallet, Cameron Price and producer Aaron Wakely.

Price was due to move to Nine Sydney yesterday but is now seeking legal advice.


  1. @ John Le Ferve: You need to get off your high horse. You have probably made a decision you later regretted. I agree it should not have happened but the reaction is way over the top. Also as far as ethics are concered Seven were quick to knife Nine. That’s the really sad part in all of this. I hope the dobbers from Seven are happy with themselves.

  2. Sounds like an episode of 1990s comedy satire “Frontline”. Except the shonkiness of current affairs shows has been extended to shonky news bulletins these days.

  3. reminder to all how Mike Duffy from Ch Bevan lied on camera about the ‘bomb in a suitcase’ and presented it to be real, when in fact it was a fake..he is still on air doing bang up jobs and far fetched ‘stories’…

  4. Clever thinking on behalf of the Sydney news directors. Sack the young people who were following their direct orders and hopefully Nine still has a chance of securing the Morcombe exclusive

  5. This “Choppergate” incident reminded me of an earlier incident from the Today show… who remembers Jessica Rowe being told by a commanding officer in East Timor that the security guards placed behind him were there for dramatic effect?

  6. Now that this precedent has been set, then I expect nothing less from Nine that they will stick to it.

    Deceive their viewers = fired.

    … can they run their TV network with only a handful of people, though? Yikes. 😉

    If they don’t uphold the precedent that they have set, then it highlights the hypocrisy that the industry has engaged in over the past several years.

  7. This is totally outrageous behavior by Melissa Mallet, Cameron Price, and Aaron Wakely and breaches the ethics and morals of professional journalists.

    As the person in charge Lee Anderson should appropriately accept responsibility as the actions of the other three reflect the culture that was allowed to develop in the QTQ-9 newsroom under his stewardship.

    Not only have these three misled the public and broken the contract of trust that journalists need to have with the public, but they’ve ignored the foundations of the profession.

    As a professional journalist I’m appalled at their actions. I sincerely hope that the MEAA take a stand on this, though the MEAA has not stood for anything concrete since it’s formation from the former AJA some 15 years ago.

    Hopefully those involved will have many years to spend reflecting on their actions working on neighborhood watch newsletters and the like.

  8. How is this any different to the fake “live” crosses that they all do. Nearly everynight the news anchor pretends to be talking to someone on location, yet it is generally pre-recorded. Any interstate or international cross from Brisbane is very rarely live coZ when you flick to the Sydney news ( as we can do on the Gold Coast) the same reporter is talking live to Sydney at the same time.

  9. i love how the two “aviaton tragics”, as referred to in the Courier Mail story, just happened to be Channel 7 employees. And they just happened to leak the story to the newspaper…. oops

  10. @ Craig when people start following orders, that they know are wrong without challenging them, where do you draw the line? If you condone it, then it becomes endemic and the accurate unbiased reporting of news in a democracy is crucial. That is why comparisons are made to WW2/war crimes, extreme? yes, but ‘following orders’ is never an acceptable defence for anything these days.

  11. The more I read about this, the more I believe that Nine are justified in their actions. The two reporters and the producer clearly broke journalism and reporting ethics with their actions, which in that industry must be a summary sacking offence. The reporters were probably doing what they were directed to do, but my understanding is that journalists can refuse to do something they consider unethical.

    This whole mess reminds me of that New York Times reporter (can’t think of his name) who was sprung several years ago faking stories that he was supposedly on the spot reporting from. The truth was he was actually holed up in his Brooklyn apartment writing a novel about the Beltway Sniper. He was cutting and pasting stories from the internet and submitting them as his own reports being filed on location. Point is, once you start bending the rules like this, it gets easier and the descent down the slippery slope of lies, deceit and dishonest reporting, something that cannot be allowed to happen when reporting on news events.

  12. I’d just like the person ultimately responsible for the decision to be the one sacked, did they fire the camera man or chopper pilot? The reporters are doing a job and often they have no choice on their assignment so why fire them? And enough of equating this to WW2 and war crimes, its not like the killed anyone. They just put another nail in their journalistic integrity coffin.

  13. Just wondering who and how many from Seven were sacked after coverage of last year’s Bathurst 1000 finished 20 minutes after the race did – just so the station could cram in all of its scheduled advertising. Hypocrisy?

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