60 Minutes formally apologises for the Beirut shambles.

It’s been over a month since 60 Minutes embroiled itself in the now infamous child abduction controversy, which saw members of its crew and others detained in a Lebanese prison.

Now, almost seven weeks down the line, the Nine Network have made a formal apology for the catastrophic errors they made.

The ordeal, described by founding producer Gerald Stone as “without a doubt the greatest misadventure in 37 years of 60 Minutes”, was only discussed on the tail-end of the hour-long program.

To see the much anticipated apology, viewers were first made to sit through a lengthy episode of The Voice, then nearly an entire episode of the program’s current affairs stories. Unfortunately, the apology was tucked away and was sweeping in its brevity, allocated only 10 minutes of air time in the late hours on Sunday evening.

Unfortunately, the apology was tucked away and was sweeping in its brevity.

To some, while host Michael Usher explained "there is a lot to learn from this experience for us at 60 Minutes and for the entire network," it was an apology that sought to blame individual people. Namely, the only 60 Minutes producer to be sacked after the saga, Stephen Rice, and a member of the recovery team, Adam Whittington.

For Stone, there was no other option than to relieve Rice of his employment.

"I felt very strongly that as long as management was not completely in supervision of the program that it seemed to me unfair - and I am a journalist - that a journalist should be picked out. But if anyone was going to be picked out it would have to be the producer of the program because things do rest heavily on the role of the producer and that's why he is the producer, because he should take the blame when things go wrong."

Tara Brown and Stephen Rice. (Getty Images)

As for Whittington, the program avoided almost any mention of his name under the excuse of "legal reasons".

"There is an ongoing criminal case in Lebanon involving our crew and the child recovery team led by Adam Whittington and for legal reasons we're not able to say any more about that," the show's host Michael Usher said.

"We sincerely apologise for our serious mistakes," he concluded. "Sadly, we have damaged the reputation of a great TV program. What's important is to learn from the mistakes, and we are committed to doing that."

Tags: current-affairs , entertainment-tv , media
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