ABC hits back over criticisms of its new lifestyle platform

The ABC has hit back at reports this morning its soon-to-launch lifestyle platform, ABC Life, will be designed to “replicate content that does well on commercial sites”.

Earlier this morning The Australian published an article suggesting a number of publishers and broadcasters were outraged over the ABC’s plans to launch a replica version of BuzzFeed, which would seek to compete with the commercial sector in areas such as recipes, sex and relationships, travel and fashion.

The ABC has refuted claims this morning is it trying to create a BuzzFeed replica

The commentary included statements from Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield, a spokesperson for Fairfax Media, NewsMediaWorks CEO Peter Miller, Junkee Media’s chief executive, Neil Ackland and Free to Air chief executive, Bridget Fair, were among those who commented on the plans, suggesting it did not fit within the ABC charter.

While the ABC did not comment at the time, it has since posted a comment on its website, arguing the reports had “promulgated incorrect information” based on nothing but anonymous quotes from ABC staff members.

“No authorised, discoverable ABC spokesperson has made the statements that the purpose of ABC Life is ‘to replicate content that does well on commercial sites’ or that it will be a ‘BuzzFeed page for the ABC’,” a spokesperson said.

“While the ABC does not disclose internal financial details, the figures put on the ABC Life budget have been grossly inflated. In a cluttered digital environment, fresh approaches are needed to ensure stories are created and shared in ways that are most useful to audiences. ABC Life will make a broad range of quality and engaging ABC content more easily accessible.

“The project has a small dedicated team and gives our existing employees located around Australia an opportunity to work on an exciting new digital project.”

ABC Life has not yet launched in market, but is funded by the ABC Content Fund, which was announced in March last year, seeking to help the ABC meet the changing needs of its audience. It will bring together content from ABC TV, ABC News, ABC regional and local, Triple J, Radio National ABC online and the broadcaster’s podcasts.

“The site will utilise ABC journalists and content makers from around metropolitan and regional Australia and bring together in one place curated content from across the ABC, as well as helping much-loved programs reach new audiences and showcasing distinctive ABC programming, supplemented by creative output from the ABC Life team,” the statement said.

“More information on this project will be announced soon, and we look forward to making it easier for audiences Australia-wide to discover and enjoy the huge variety of distinctive and informative content they expect from the ABC.”

Scott Spark, ABC Life Lead, said the website will be “free of advertiser interests”.

“ABC Life builds on the tradition of the ABC tapping into the everyday topics, issues and stories that matter to people,” Spark said.

It will launch on August 6.


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