ABC amends website following CAM concerns


ABC's Australia Plus 'Style + Wellbeing' section, sponsored by Swisse Wellness

Changes to logo placement were made after concerns were raised about a perceived link between Monash University and Swisse Wellness

Last week, the ABC announced its international media arm (Australia Plus) had partnered with three new sponsors: Monash University, the Victorian State government, and supplement brand Swisse Wellness.

The announcement drew criticism from several quarters, including from Monash University’s Dr Ken Harvey and ABC executive producer Nick Murray, with concerns about ABC’s link to Swisse in particular.

Original publicity material had advertised the new partnership using the Australia Plus logo alongside the logos of Monash University, Swisse and the Victorian government.

“I am disappointed that Swisse has been added to the mix,” Dr Harvey, who is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the university’s School of Public Health, told AJP at the time.

“Swisse have had many upheld complaints for misusing scientific claims such as “clinically proven” and “clinically tested”.”

While Monash insisted it had no partnership with Swisse, Harvey questioned why the university’s logo appeared alongside Swisse’s logo in promotional material.

“The fact remains Monash is damned by association,” he said.

In response to the complaints, AJP can reveal that ABC International has had to alter its website to amend the presentation of the logos.

Monash University’s Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner received letters expressing concern about the perceived relationship between the ABC, Swisse and Monash.

She responded, stating:

“The Monash partnership is a stand-alone partnership with ABC International and is in no way a partnership with Swisse or the Victorian Government.

“Some stakeholders were initially concerned this was not the case, given that the Monash University logo appeared on the ABC International website alongside the logos of their other partners: the Victorian Government and Swisse.

“Following the initial announcement of partnerships, ABC International has made iterative changes to its website, including how it has acknowledged and presented its partner organisations”.

The Monash, Swisse and Victorian government logos have since been removed from the logo of ABC’s Australia Plus, with rotating images of the “partners” now placed separately from Australia Plus and one another on the website.

It’s “a considerable improvement,” says Harvey.

“But I do hope that Monash has told Australia Plus not to allow the juxtaposition of Swisse promotion with stories about the university, as has happened with the University of Melbourne,” he adds.

When originally asked about its decision to partner with Swisse, the ABC responded saying that the partnership would not affect its content.

“All Australia Plus content is subject to the established and rigorous requirements of the [ABC’s] Editorial Policies,” an ABC spokesperson told AJP.

“The commercial partnerships will in no way undermine the ABC’s commitment to these policies.”

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