The leak behind the now-infamous Channel 7 ‘hot mic’ could have come from an independent broadcast sub contractor and may never be found according to network insiders.
Sources close to TV’s biggest broadcast ‘witch hunt’ say Seven bosses have narrowed their search to a private ‘playlist company’ with access to Seven’s nightly news feed.
It’s believed the ‘mole’ may have made a copy of the damaging footage while accessing Seven’s feed but before adding the commercials and putting the edited news feed to air.
In what has become a public relations nightmare for Seven, footage leaked last night of new network recruit Rebecca Maddern and veteran broadcaster Mike Amor criticising Novak Djokovic after a court ruled he would be allowed to stay in Australia.
Their expletive-laden rant, which appears to have taken place as they prepared to present the station’s 6pm news program, included Maddern saying: ‘Whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky, a***hole.’
Mike Amor and Rebecca Maddern have apologised after ‘hot mic’ leak
Maddern has since apologised to her bosses for badmouthing the world number one.
Meanwhile furious executives immediately launched a witch hunt to track down the culprit behind the leak with one Seven source claiming an external broadcast company is likely to blame.
‘A playlist facility gets the feed and puts it to air,’ the insider told The Daily Mail Australia.
‘Play-out used to be done from the TV station itself (but) now it’s outsourced to a separate company in a different building somewhere else.
‘And that facility puts the show to air and the ads on basically and they put the right stuff on the right channel.’
Hot mic: search narrows for culprit behind the high-level leak
The source added that – depending on the tech savviness of the leaker, they may never be caught.
‘If they’re smart they won’t (be caught),’ they said.
It’s understood Seven’s Director of News and Public Affairs Craig McPherson was furious about the embarrassing leak which comes just days into Maddern’s mew contract with the network.
Maddern recently parted ways with Australian Open host broadcaster Nine.
In a statement issued on Wednesday morning, McPherson said the person responsible for leaking the ‘private conversation’ would be dealt with.
‘The illegal recording was of a private conversation between two colleagues,’ he said.
‘It was an underhanded, cowardly act in breach of the Victorian Listening Devices legislation the perpetrator of which will be accordingly dealt with when found.’
‘Sneaky little a**hole’ – Novak Djokovic sledged during off-air rant
Another executive, Melbourne chief Lewis Martin, told Radio 3AW the probe into the leaker was well underway.
Mr Martin said he had spoken with Maddern and she had apologised to him.
‘We have got broadcast operations people that are looking into it from last night.
‘So they are working out how the vision was recorded and how it was distributed.’
Djokovic had landed in Australia with a medical exemption from vaccination on the basis he had tested positive to Covid-19 on December 16 but was detained for five days when border force officials denied the exemption.
He’s since been released from detention but it is still unclear if he will be able to play in the Australian Open beginning on January 17.
In the wake of the news presenters’ comments, Twitter has erupted with many throwing their support behind the pair.
It comes after the revelation that Djokovic could face jail after Australia’s Border Force launched a fresh investigation into whether the tennis star lied on a travel declaration form before entering the country.
Federal rules on the matter state: ‘Giving false or misleading information to the Australian Government is a serious offence. If convicted, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 12 months.’
Court documents released as part of the row over Djokovic’s visa show his declaration form stated he would not travel to any other countries in the 14 days prior to boarding his flight to Australia on January 4.
In answer to the question: ‘Have you travelled, or will you travel, in the 14 days prior to your flight to Australia?’ whoever filled out the form selected ‘no’.
Djokovic’s own mother came out swnging in her son’s defence on Wednesday morning, is pleading with the Australian government to let her son stay in the country and play at this month’s Australian Open.
‘Don’t throw him out. He’s not [a] politician, he is a tennis player. He is not a criminal, he’s not murdered,’ Dijana Djokovic told Channel 7’s Sunrise program this morning.