Network Nine pushes to screen Underbelly series in Victoria

Network Nine pushes to screen Underbelly series in Victoria - 29th Feb 2008

The Nine Network claims a judge was wrong to stop TV crime series Underbelly from showing in Victoria, appealing to show at least two episodes.

Nine Network lawyer Ron Merkel, QC, told the Victorian Court of Appeal today the broadcaster should have been allowed to show at least the first two episodes of the series, which is based on Melbourne's gangland war.

Nine is appealing against a suppression order placed on the series by Supreme Court Justice Betty King on February 15, which bans the transmission, publication, broadcast and exhibition of Underbelly in Victoria.

Justice King made the order because of concerns by the Director of Public Prosecutions that the series would prejudice an upcoming murder trial.

Mr Merkel told the court Justice King erred in her decision to place a blanket ban on the screening of the entire Underbelly series in Victoria.

He argued that her decision was based on viewing only two edited episodes of the series and another 10 unedited episodes.

"(It was) an erroneous idea by putting a blanket ban," Mr Merkel told the court.

"What was being looked at was unedited versions, not what was going to be screened.

"What her honour was looking at was not the final broadcast."

Mr Merkel said the Nine Network should have been able to at least screen the first two episodes of Underbelly.

"What possible way could episodes one and two impede on a fair trial?" he said.

"The first two episodes were about events 10 years ago.

"Channel Nine should be able to publish any part of the series that does not have the potential to prejudice any part of the trial."

The appeal is continuing before Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and Justices Frank Vincent and Murray Kellam.



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Mediaman has conducted an off the record interview with Bert Wrout and is in talks with various media entities