Friday’s revelation that beloved sports broadcaster Bruce McAvaney had been diagnosed with leukaemia not only shocked and moved sports fans across Australia, it also caused quite a bit of tension in the Seven newsroom.
Diagnosed two years ago, McAvaney’s illness had been kept a tightly held secret, only a few people at the network knew the real reason why McAvaney had not been involved in this years Australian Open broadcast.
All that changed when McAvaney made the decision to go public with his diagnosis during an interview with the Herald-Sun to promote the upcoming AFL season.
DeciderTV understands Seven News was not informed about the story until Friday. The revelation caused much anger in the newsroom, with staff frustrated they had been excluded from revealing such a big story about one of the networks own employees.
DeciderTV understands Melbourne news director Simon Pristel was particularly furious, venting his frustration with network bosses and the publicity department.
What followed was a tense negotiation between News, Publicity and the Herald-Sun, with the News Corp publication eventually making the decision to publish an edited version of the story on the Herald-Sun website at 5pm, rather than holding it back for the Saturday paper as originally planned.
The move ensured the Herald-Sun retained its exclusive, rather than Seven’s 6pm news bulletin.
Seven would have to wait until its Saturday night news bulletin before it could broadcast a hastily arranged interview with McAvaney, the interview was recorded on Saturday afternoon during the networks coverage of the Golden Slipper which was hosted by McAvaney.