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Fairfax media publishes advertorials to promote Bodypass, fails to declare ownership

Fairfax media publishes advertorials to promote Bodypass, fails to declare ownership
November 12, 2015

The Fairfax media group, publishers of the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne newspaper The Age, appears to have turned its back on its tradition of editorial independence, choosing to give extensive coverage to the Bodypass gym pass business, which it has owned since the end of July.

Revealed by the ABC's Media Watch on Monday (9th November), Fairfax media has given extensive and favourable coverage, to the business, founded by photogenic Sydney Eastern Suburbs yoga instructor Carla McMillan and former Fitness First National Community Manager Georgia van Tiel.

Features have included:

Six ways to get you moving before summer by Bodypass - 25th October - Sydney Morning Herald

Feeling crappy? Try these five things today - 10th August 2015 - Sydney Morning Herald

Game-changer in the fitness market - 15th July 2015 - Sydney Morning Herald

No-strings-attached exercise: the future of the workout is here - 6th July 2015 - Sydney Morning Herald

In some of the early features it was revealed that 'Fairfax Media is the official media partner of Bodypass', which it was until 31st July. However, at no time since has Fairfax revealed its subsequent ownership.

Throughout the period of its coverage of Bodypass, Fairfax publications appear to have given no coverage to any of the other players in the fast developing fitness pass/sharing sector.

In a statement to Media Watch, a Fairfax media spokesperson revealed “Fairfax was the official media partner of Bodypass, until 31 July 2015 when we acquired 100% of the business.

"Founders Carla and Georgia remain integral members of the Bodypass team. Bodypass is now part of Fairfax’s Life Media & Events portfolio of lifestyle-oriented products and events.

"We never intended any confusion or to mislead anyone about our commercial relationship with Bodypass.

"If there are instances where we could and should have been clearer, we apologise for the oversight."

Commenting on the arrangement, Australasian Leisure Management Publisher Nigel Benton stated "this so called 'oversight' by Fairfax, a generally respected part of the Australian media, is really unfortunate.

"In Australia, the line between independent editorial and paid-for advertorial is too often blurred and for the public and business audiences and readers to have confidence in media there has to be a clear differentiation between the two.

"This type of paid-for content is no different to hearing Alan Jones spruiking a bank or telco on the radio or the endless 'infomercials' broadcast on daytime television.

"In many ways, paid content verges on being dishonest, and when it is revealed as advertorial it is worthless to all involved."

During Monday's broadcast Media Watch suggested that Fairfax needs to remember their motto: 'Independent Always'.

Presenter Paul Barry concluded "if their papers and websites become a platform for spruiking ventures like Bodypass and pretending it’s news, that independence won’t be worth a lot."

Australasian Leisure Management has published a range of news about operators in the fast evolving fitness pass/sharing sector - see below.

Click here to view the transcript of Media Watch's Fitness Fibs report on the ABC website.

29th October 2015 - CLASSPASS LAUNCHES MONTHLY FITNESS MEMBERSHIP SERVICE IN AUSTRALIA

14th October 2015 - MALAYSIAN FITNESS PLATFORM KFIT MERGES WITH AUSTRALIAN COMPETITORS CLASSHOPPER AND SWEATPASS

1st September 2015 - FLEXIBLE GYM CONTRACTS IMPROVE MEMBER RETENTION

19th August 2015 - ONLINE FITNESS PASSES AID HONG KONG EXERCISERS

29th July 2015 - ANYCLASS FITNESS PASS INITIATIVE LAUNCHES IN SYDNEY

14th July 2015 - ‘LISTENING TO MEMBERS’ BEHIND FITNESS FIRST’S GYMBETTER EXIT

25th April 2012 - SATC EXPOSED FOR PAYING CELEBRITIES TO TWEET ABOUT KANGAROO ISLAND

 


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