Underbelly creep you won’t see on ACA

“Journalist arrested for links to hitman from Sydney’s seedy underbelly” – it’s almost the perfect opportunity for ACA to run a cross promotional Underbelly story. Only he’s one of their own. Ben Fordham. I can’t believe I missed this last week. Now the hitman (a nephew of Sydney’s mayor) has been arrested. No doubt he’ll come up with a plea bargain that sees the journo and his producer chucked in the slammer as an example.

Ben Fordham’s career as a corporate speaker will no doubt take off. He also has the added benefit of a PR manager – his famous father.

I remember watching the original story – where Fordham bravely foiled a “hit” and thinking they were crossing into some murky grey area of journalistic entrapment. Turns out it was murky enough for criminal charges.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. Personally, from a journalistic perspective, I loathe the sensationalism ACA and Today Tonight pursue. But I also think journalists should be able to become as involved in the story as they do. ACA ran an interesting piece last night where their journo, Martin King complete with prosthetic nose, lived as a homeless person for a period of time and explored the way Melbourne’s homeless are treated. It’s worth a watch.

Ben Fordham is getting a reputation as a bit of a toe rag. The police also cautioned him after an interaction with Belinda Neal last year. He was also the guy who brought us the controversial story about the “last tribe of cannibals” and their prospective dinner, Wawa. Who Nine didn’t rescue – and Fordham allegedly blew the whistle on Seven as Today Tonight made an illegal attempt.

So, what do you think? Should the courts thank Channel 9 for aborting this hit via their story, or should they throw the book at the guy?

Underbelly Creep

Channel 9 (and regional counterparts WIN) seems determined to force as much Underbelly down our throats as they can through a diet of cross-promotion and re-runs.

Last week they ran a two minute news story in the Queensland statewide news about the fact that the happenings documented in Underbelly were real. They happened 30 years ago. I thought news was meant to be timely.

Seven’s relentless cross promotion of their programming during the Australian Open was bad enough.

But this constant diet of Underbelly takes the cake. It was even featured on Getaway tonight. With a Sydney restaurant that’s a regular feature in the new series.

It’ll be on Here’s Humphrey next in the one where Humphrey gets whacked by a gangster, or the cast will bring a famous Mafia pasta dish to the set of Fresh.

What took the cake for me was last night’s A Current Affair. I try not to watch it often. But last night it looked like they were going to have something serious to say about the Pakistani terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers.

But no – it was about the “seedy underbelly” of Pakistani cricket – lumping terrorism, match fixing and corruption into a package that used the word Underbelly about eight times – and then even showed a clip from the show.

This Sunday morning Underbelly is the advertised feature of the Today Show.

Underbelly is this year’s Gordon Ramsay – and we all know what happened to him. He appears to have been ignominiously pulled from Channel 9’s Thursday schedule, and his family man image is damaged beyond repair. That’s what happens when Nine flog you to death.

No doubt the Footy Show will also have an Underbelly themed segment next Thursday night. And then it will all start over again when there are DVDs to sell.