MIDSUMMA has decided not to take up any ‘advertising opportunities’ with controversial media partner News Corp in light of growing community concerns.
Members of the LGBTI community criticised the festival’s relationship with News Corp last month after a string of articles slamming the Safe Schools programs were published by the media organisation.
News Corp publication Herald Sun will also not march at Pride March or hold a stall at the festival’s Carnival.
However, a spokesperson for the festival said the team isn’t in the position to legally step away from the partnership entirely, so it will remain for now.
“We’re not in the position legally to step away from the partnership, but what we are doing is not taking up any of the advertising benefits – all it ever was was an advertising contract with the Herald Sun,” she said.
“But we’re still talking to writers at News Corp about editorial ideas, so that we can work together on getting positive content out around the festival.
“We’re now at the point where we need to get on with the festival so there’ll still be editorial, we’re just not taking advantage of any display advertising.”
In a statement by Midsumma, the team announced that a full review of their partnerships is planned and will be undertaken after the festival.
“It is important to note that there is no money attached to the [News Corp] agreement,” it read.
“Pulling out of this year’s Herald Sun agreement would be extremely difficult for Midsumma at this time.
“We are a small team trying to do big things for a large and diverse community, in a world that feels significantly more difficult for us all as we head into 2017.”
Co-convenor of Jewish LGBTI group Aleph Michael Barnett, who was outspoken in his opposition to the partnership, said he’s pleased with the decision.
However, when it comes to producing editorial content, he’s less sure.
“It depends on the nature of the relationship between Midsumma and the News Corp writers,” he said.
“I have less of a problem if the articles are part of an ongoing media arrangement Midsumma has in general with all media outlets, but if they are advantaging News Corp as a preferred media outlet as part of a formal arrangement I feel that is unacceptable due to the damaging content that News Corp publish,” he said.
Barnett added that he hopes all legal ties are formally severed after the 2017 festival.
“I would like to see that terminated as soon as possible, and see Midsumma give a clear undertaking to the community that they will provide a time-frame around when the sponsorship arrangement will formally end,” he said.