ABC terminates Solstice Media syndication for The New Daily and InQueensland

The ABC has confirmed it will not renew its seven-year deal with Solstice Media’s The New Daily and InQueensland when it expires later this year.

The syndication contract allows The New Daily, a site backed by superannuation funds, and InQueensland to run ABC content, and commercially benefit from it.

Late last year, Liberal senator and industry super critic Andrew Bragg pushed for the ABC to disclose the details of its arrangement with The New Daily, claiming the agreement put the national broadcaster’s independence at risk.

The ABC confirmed the contract’s termination to Mumbrella, but was adamant that editorial coverage is not “influenced by political, sectional, commercial or personal interests to protect the ABC’s independence and integrity”.

A spokesperson said the ABC regularly reviews its syndication deals, and decided the Solstice Media arrangement “no longer serves the ABC’s interests given changes in Solstice Media’s business model to state-based websites.

“On this basis the agreement will not be renewed when it concludes later this year.”

The New Daily is published by Motion Publishing, a subsidiary of Eric Beecher’s Solstice Media. Paul Hamra, the managing director of Motion Publishing, said the business was told months ago the ABC would be discontinuing not just the Solstice Media contract, but “all commercial content syndication deals”.

However, the ABC spokesperson stated the media organisation “will continue to enter agreements with third party digital platforms provided they operate independently of the ABC’s editorial operations, comply with the ABC’s legislative obligations, and meet audience reach and revenue objectives”.

“To this end the ABC is focussing on commercial agreements that extend the ABC’s reach rather than see us competing for the same audience,” the spokesperson clarified.

“Increasing our focus on news aggregation sites is particularly relevant given the government’s News Media Bargaining Code.”

The ABC does not have deals in place with Google or Facebook, both of which have struck agreements with large and small outlets. Solstice Media was one of the first companies to have deals with each platform.

Nine, News Corp, and the ABC are the three biggest newsrooms in the country, with the former two locking in contracts with Facebook last week. Nine has signed letters of intent with Google and Facebook, but is yet to confirm the commercial discussions or announce them on the stock exchange.


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