Australian broadcaster asks PR firm if it paid China journalists to cover web portal launch

Australia PlusAustralian public broadcaster ABC has asked the public relations firm it works with whether it provided payments to Chinese journalists covering the launch event of its Australia Plus web portal.

A column in today’s Australian Financial Review noted there were questions over whether ABC had followed a common Chinese business practice of giving journalists envelopes, containing around 200 Chinese Yuan (US$32), at last week’s event.

An ABC spokesman confirmed to Mumbrella it was asking its PR company whether payments had been made, insisting the only gifts it had authorised were Lavender Bobbie Bear toys.

Last week, the public broadcaster launched, a portal that will broadcast a combination of Australian stories including business, education and travel aimed at a mainland Chinese audience as well as Chinese living in Australia.

The ABC said it had contracted a local Chinese PR company to handle the April 9 event in Shanghai. The broadcaster would not reveal the name of the agency it is working with.

“The contract covers the supply of standard services associated with a major launch event including a communications plan, copy writing, media communications and media coverage reports,” said the spokesman. “The PR firm was not instructed to provide separate payments to attendees nor was this part of the contract.”

The ABC said the only authorised present for journalists attending the event was a Lavender Bobbie Bear from a Tasmanian farm. Present at the launch were president of the Shanghai Media Group Wang Jianjun and former ABC chairman and former NSW Supreme Court Justice Jim Spigelman

The ABC said the payments were for “attendees transport costs”, adding: “The ABC is aware, however that it is standard practice for publicity events of this nature to include a payment to cover attendees transport costs.”

Travel website Trip Advisor puts the 45km taxi journey from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to the City Centre at between 150-200 Yuan. 

Nic Christensen 


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