The news teams of channels 1, 2 and 10 apparently were duped by a Netanya store owner who claimed his security camera had recorded Itai Ben Dror and his three children out strolling less than a day before the father allegedly killed them, in a case that shocked the nation.
Last week, reporters covering the story received a tip that a shop owner on a main street in Netanya had footage of Ben Dror and the children shopping and walking down the street.
The news organizations paid the store owner a total of NIS 9,000, and received a disc that turned out to be blank.
According to individuals familiar with the incident, Channel 1 paid NIS 2,000, Channel 10, NIS 3,000 and Channel 2, NIS 4,000.
"We are trying to decide what to do," a senior official at one of the companies said. "We got to him to start with because we knew he had the materials. The man took us to his store and we asked to see the footage, but the equipment didn't work. We know he's got the pictures, he just didn't give them to us."
The store owner allegedly played the same trick on all three news organizations.
A source at one of the organizations said yesterday: "We got the hard drive from the security camera and there was nothing on it. We tried to view it in the store, but when we couldn't, we had the man sign a contract that if the materials were not there or if for some reason we did not broadcast the footage, he would have to give us our money back. That didn't happen."
A senior official in the same news organization said they had filed a police complaint and were planning to sue the man to get their money back.
Payment for video or still pictures, as opposed to payment for information or interviews, is usual for news organizations in Israel seeking material from amateur or professional photographers, business security cameras or other private concerns. Payment, according to sources in the various news organizations, can range from NIS 1,000 to NIS 3,000.
Itai Ben Dror allegedly stabbed to death his three children - 10-year-old Omer, 8-year-old Roni and 5-year-old Or - a week ago Saturday, after which he tried to commit suicide. Nevertheless, psychiatric tests determined he was fit to be jailed and stand trial.
Channel 2 and Channel 10 declined to respond to this report. Channel 1 said, "The facts are correct."
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