Michael Millett, ABC Director Corporate Affairs, writes: Re. “Introducing ABC Radio yoga, brought to you by Lululemon” (yesterday). Myriam Robin has failed to understand and accurately report the nature of ABC Radio’s arrangement with Lululemon Athletica (LLL) over the organisation of a one-off promotional event for the launch of the ABC’s Classic Flow podcast.

As the ABC pointed out to your reporter, Lululemon Athletica is not mentioned in the Classic Flow podcast itself and nor was it mentioned in any ABC broadcast promotion of the event. It was tagged once only in one ABC Classic FM Facebook post and mentioned on the event flyer. These brief references, made only  in the context of a one-off promotional event, do not constitute a breach of the editorial standards.

The facts are that when launching classical music podcast Classic Flow the ABC approached the Barangaroo Development Authority about staging a live launch event. LLL’s involvement was facilitated by the Barangaroo Development Authority because they had experience of staging large-scale yoga events at Barangaroo. LLL then signed an agreement with ABC Events (part of ABC Commercial) to stage the event.  In effect, this was an outsourced agreement under which the promoter, in this case LLL, would cover risk assessment, safety, security, cleaning, and registration/allocation of tickets. LLL was not a sponsor of the event.

Robin’s reference to  “blatant commercial benefits” was a considerable overstatement. LLL was not given access to any ABC audience marketing channels or databases and did not sell any merchandise or use any branding or signage at the launch event.

Robin’s reference to the ABC Editorial Guidelines on Advertising and Sponsorship was also incorrect. This guidance refers to the management of advertising and sponsorship for ABC Magazines and their digital versions. It does not refer to the marketing of a one-off promotional event.

The ABC, through ABC Commercial, has over many years entered into agreements with promoters to outsource the staging of large-scale ABC events such as triple j’s Beat the Drum concerts and the Play School live events. Such activity is acceptable under the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act.  As well as generating a revenue return for the ABC, these arrangements allow for the costs and risks of the events to be borne by a third party rather than by the ABC. Any references to the commercial promoter running these events on the ABC, and through its social media pages must comply with the ABC editorial standards regarding commercial references.

We would expect Crikey to put these corrections on the public record for reasons of accuracy.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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