All bets are off in the war on watermarks and news footage.
Last night’s episode of A Current Affair threw down a new move in the 6:30 war by screening a full segment produced by Today Tonight.
The segment, introduced by Tracy Grimshaw, featured an interview with ‘Ritchard’ the second boy at the centre of a now infamous bullying video. The story by James Thomas (pictured) of Today Tonight had aired just minutes earlier on Seven.
Nine swiftly turned it around and played 4:30 minutes of the 8:30min Seven story, blurring out the Today Tonight watermark and neglecting to tell its audience the story was lifted from its competition.
It wasn’t fronted by any ACA journos.
It followed A Current Affair interviewing ‘Casey’ on its Sunday edition -some of those excerpts were used by Today Tonight without Nine watermarks.
Use of a rival’s footage falls under Copyright Fair Dealing, but must not be excessive. In television it is common to at least include some repackaging and extra comment by journalists.
But last night Nine simply ran lengthy footage without embellishment. Anybody watching Nine would have assumed James Thomas had filed the story for ACA.
This comes at a time when both networks have been protective of their content, branding their footage with elaborate watermarks to identify their content. Of late, both have been guilty of disguising or dropping rival watermarks.
Nine even released a cheeky YouTube video slapping Seven for “stealing our footage.”
“As you might appreciate we work very hard to bring you exclusive footage and vision,” Nine said last month.
Now it has not only matched the act, it has moved beyond.
A Seven spokesperson told TV Tonight, ACA‘s misrepresentation of the story to its audience was a new take on copyright Fair Dealing.
“A Current Affair has no class. We already knew that. But Nine’s desperate, scrambling same night tape turnaround of Today Tonight‘s programme reveals they’ve now found a new level to which to stoop,” said the spokesperson.
TV Tonight believes the move also reflects poorly on ACA host Tracy Grimshaw, who is left to front a decision made in the media frenzy of a story over schoolyard bullying. Would Nine be happy if Sunday Night replayed 60 Minutes footage and passed it off as its own? Of course not.
The saddest aspect of all is that it includes the schoolboys, two minors who have been portrayed as hero / villain in the media because somebody uploaded a schoolyard incident to YouTube.
Nine declined to comment.