Critics attack plan to spend more on NBN advertising

THE federal government will spend a further $15 million advertising the National Broadband Network between now and next June - ahead of the next election.

Government agencies have already spent $29 million advertising the project since 2010, according to the Department of Finance, while NBN Co itself spent $8 million on advertising in 2011-12.

The government claims a joint parliamentary committee highlighted the need for more advertising. But committee chairman Rob Oakeshott said it did not officially recommend more advertising and the upcoming campaign would have to be a ''much better standard of advertising than we have seen to date'' to justify the $14.7 million pricetag.

The department's last NBN campaign was ''bland, blancmange and shameless … that in the eyes of many was a waste of money'', Mr Oakeshott said.

The committee noted non-internet users and marginalised people needed more information and that previous campaigns failed to clearly explain that the copper network was at full capacity and needed to be replaced, or that the NBN project would provide a 7 per cent rate of return on the government's investment.

A spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the new contract would cover a national television, print and digital campaign.

''The NBN is the biggest infrastructure project in Australia's history. It will reach every home and business in Australia. The government, therefore, has a responsibility to ensure that the public is reliably informed about this significant investment,'' the spokesman said.

Opposition communications spokesman and committee member Malcolm Turnbull said the Coalition ''holds serious reservations about the nature and amount of the government's spend on promoting the NBN''.

He said previous advertising exaggerated the progress of the rollout and ''created the impression that the benefits of the internet can only be delivered on a fibre-to-the-premises network".

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