Budget papers have revealed the Australian Government is spending upwards of $20 million to counter right-wing opposition to the National Broadband Network with a series of media and marketing campaigns.
The 2012/2013 budget allocated $20 million of spending in the current financial year (2011/12) on initiatives “to improve public understanding, address misconceptions and provide updated information about the National Broadband Network (NBN)”, with specific emphasis on audiences in regional and rural Australia.
The project has been the subject of highly charged and at times grossly inaccurate criticism on talkback radio and in newspapers owned by News Corporation.
The Government-owned company has even gone to the extreme of booking advertisements on talk-back radio – only to pull them when announcers took to criticising the company on-air.
NBN Co's $9 billion deal with Telstra includes a clause obligating the network wholesaler to provide a public information campaign on the network.
While the likes of former Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett has called on the Government to “get their hands dirty” and sell the NBN to regional and rural Australia, others in the telecommunications community have questioned whether such ad spending is effective.
Internode chief executive Simon Hackett used the recent CommsDay Summit to question why NBN Co, which needs only to serve a handful of wholesale customers, needed to place advertisements in newspapers or hire 30 marketing staff as a retail telco might.