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|December 8, 1999||
Channel Nine covering-up Warne, says MP
On the eve of the first cricket Test against India, a Labour MP yesterday ignited the Scott Muller sledging affair by accusing Channel Nine of a cover-up in an attempt to protect Shane Warne.
Labour backbencher Mark Latham made the accusation in federal parliament as he attacked media ownership and control of sport.
Warne has denied he made the "can't bowl, can't throw" remark about team-mate Scott Muller, picked up by a ground microphone during the second Test against Pakistan in Hobart last month.
The affair appeared to be resolved last week when Channel Nine cameraman Joe Previtera went on national television to confess to making the comment.
However, Mr Latham, MP for Werriwa, said Nine appeared to be protecting Warne, who works for the network.
"The public interest is not served by media ownership and control of sport," he said.
"This was seen in the recent cover-up by Channel Nine protecting Shane Warne in the 'can't bowl, can't throw' sledge against Scott Muller.
"Fantastic excuses were invented to preserve Channel Nine's commercial interest in Mr Warne."
This was just another case of Channel Nine treating the cricketing public as mugs, Mr Latham said.
Ray Martin's stint as a cricket commentator was more proof of this, he said.
"How else could they have offered us Ray Martin as an expert commentator during the World Cup?" he said.
"How else could they have told us during one of the World Cup telecasts that it was live to air when, in fact, it had been delayed several hours?
"I say we should be winding back the increasing commercialisation of sport in this country," Mr Latham said.
"I believe that broadcasting companies should be prohibited from owning sports codes, sports teams and sports content.
"The danger to the public interest is too great, the risk to the commercial conflict of interests is also great and the possibility of anti-competitive behaviour is already there."
But Channel Nine hit back late last night, insisting they had been completely open in the affair.
"There has been full disclosure of the facts and we believe that the issue is now closed," said a Nine Network spokesman.
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