Talk about sex crimes, not me, says cash-for-comment blogger

Sydney based video blogger Hugh Thomas has gone on the defensive after it was revealed that he was paid to promote Ten’s show Lie To Me.  

After the story appeared in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, he posted a message on his YouTube channel which has nearly 20,000 subscribers – suggesting the publisher should focus on more serious issues. In his note he says: “I can’t believe that Australia’s famous Sydney Morning Herald website would stick an article on this on the featured spot of their website, while stories about women getting raped for 10 hours is shoved on the side.”

The SMH reports that the makers of the Ten show, 20th Century Fox, paid a number of video bloggers around the world to do pieces about it. The topic was first aired by Julian Cole of Sydney social media agency The Population last week. Discussing the fact that several video bloggers were taking part in “cash for comment”, he wrote:

“The content is good, it is engaging, it is not a stretch from what these vloggers normally produce. So that makes it okay, right? From a Vlogging source I was told that the reason they do ‘cash for comment’ is because they do not want to risk losing a large percentage of their audience (by doing full disclosure, they will be deemed as a sell out), whereas with cash for comment, a large percentage of their audience will not notice.”

However, Thomas, whose channel is called Hughsnews, does appear to be suffering a backlash this morning. A posting from one subscriber has just gone up saying: “SOLD OUT! Cheap bastard.”

Cash for comment is a controversial issue in traditional media, with a review of the rules for radio currently underway. There are no such limitations in online media.

The debate is a sign of the growing interest from TV networks in using social media to promote their shows. Although Ten wasn’t involved in the cash for comments promotion of Lie To Me, it has been showing an increased interest in the area – including its shopping mall dance stunt revealed by Mumbrella earlier this month.

And Nine denied being behind a video that appeared on YouTube showing the raciest moments from the forthcoming Underbelly, despite it clearly being unreleased material. Mumbrella has since received reliable information that Nine had a third party put together the video – and a similar effort for the first series which did not generate as much debate.


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