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As NBC airs first video of the octuplets, ABC pays for interview with the babies’ grandmother

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The frenzied media competition for octuplet news is generating more controversy among the network morning shows.

NBC’s “Today” aired this morning the second part of Ann Curry’s exclusive interview with octuplet mother Nadya Suleman, showing the first images of her tiny babies in the neonatal unit.

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Not to be outdone, ABC’s “Good Morning America” touted its own get –- an interview with Suleman’s mother, Angela, who said her daughter was irresponsible for having more children when she has six at home.

Except the interview wasn’t actually done by ABC: the network licensed the footage from Radaronline.com, a Web-only version of the celebrity magazine that folded last fall and is officially relaunching in a few weeks.

ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider declined to say how much the network paid RadarOnline, calling it a “nominal fee.”

‘Good Morning America’ tagged the interview a ‘GMA exclusive,’ even though there was a chyron over the footage that read ‘Radaronline.com.’

RadarOnline, in turn, licensed some photos used in the piece from the celebrity photo agency Splash News, said RadarOnline managing editor David Perel. The actual interview was conducted by a freelancer, he said.

When asked if Radar paid Angela Suleman for the interview, Perel said, ‘No, it’s not like that with us. We’re like anybody else; we’ll pay you for photographs.’

When a reporter pressed Perel about whether Suleman herself was compensated, he said, ‘I’m not getting into that.’

‘You’re having a ridiculous conversation with me,’ he said, adding, ‘You are not hearing what I’m saying,’ and then hung up.

Last week, “Today” faced questions about how it had landed the interview with Suleman, since the mother’s representatives had said she wanted to use the attention on her story to help provide for her large family.

NBC adamantly denied paying for the exclusive.

“NBC News does not and will not pay for interviews,” said spokeswoman Megan Kopf. “This interview is no exception. Any reports or so-called sources that suggest otherwise are totally wrong. Absolutely no money has changed hands between NBC and Suleman or any member of her family.”

-- Matea Gold


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