The force of television

In a secret deal recently agreed to between television executives and the NSW Government and brokered by Jana Wendt, the best dressed auto-cue reader Australia has ever known, New South Wales Police Stations will be taken over by Channel 9.

Fearing a public backlash, the Government had been keen to keep the sale of the Police Stations a secret. However, following the extraordinary events leading to the successful on-camera arrest of Australian fugitive Dolly Dunn, by the Sixty Minutes team, the Government has gone public with details of the scheme, which NSW Police Minister has described as a win-win situation.

"It is no secret," he said, "that the police force is underfunded. We do not have the sort of money that Channel 9 can throw around to catch vicious criminals. By selling the police force to Channel 9 we can guarantee that the NSW public will be assured one of the finest police forces in the country, while Channel 9 will have access to all our resources as they track down alleged criminals. In short, Channel 9 supply the money, we supply the necessary back-up and fire-power. We get the crims and promotions, they get ratings and extra advertising revenue."

A spokesperson for Channel 9 was equally delighted at the prospect of buying the police force. "Obviously, our staff are going to be placing themselves at risk. Capturing Dolly was indeed a great scoop for us and our ratings are way up since the story went to air. However, we need to consider the safety of our journalists. When they go in to apprehend really, really violent criminals they will need all the security back-up they can get. This is were the police come in. Creating our own journalistic security force would have been just too expensive!"

Premier Bob Carr defended the sale of the Police Force saying it will lead to better value-added, user-pays policing of the State. The Police Force is over stretched and under funded. Due to budget cuts and a lack of Federal funding we have no choice but to privatise.

Police Commissioner Peter Ryan, although apprehensive, welcomed what he described as, "a magnificent joint venture between Channel 9 and the NSW Police Force."

"It is important", he said, "to make sure that the police act on community concern. Obviously a lot of effort is put into areas of little concern to the public. This is a great morale boost for the NSW police, who will now only be concentrating on issues that the public regard as criminal activity. In short, if an arrest doesn't rate with the viewers it will not happen."

Melanie Moringstar, the freelance producer who helped Channel 9 track down Dolly was unavailable for comment. However it is believed she is looking forward to rounding up a few Asian drug lords with the full backing of what will soon be known to millions as "Force 9 Still the One!"

Using the latest interactive technology, as well as the Internet, Force 9 - Still the One, will be able to get immediate public feedback ensuring that they concentrate on community centered criminal activity rather than waste time and taxpayers' money arresting first-time drug offenders with a few grams of dope in their pockets.

The force will be equipped with AKwin-97s, the latest in Windows-based, high-tech weaponry which come with built in microphone and digital video camera. Images from these "gun-cams" will be instantly displayed on the Internet every time a member of the Force pulls a gun.

No longer will viewers have to wait for the late night news to see police gunning down people in the street.

Using the Internet, the Force will be able to get instant feedback from the public. According to a spokesperson for the Police Minister, this would be valuable information when formulating government policy.

The Police Union, although not opposed to the plan in principle, want more details. They are particularly concerned that everyone in the Force get equal airtime and are prepared to go on strike if Channel 9 start favouring employees with obvious television appeal. A spokesperson, who declined to be named, expressed concern that only the young and good-looking would get to be involved with on-camera arrests.