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Democrats side with Howard and Alston and fail to protect the ABC from advertising.



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Democrats Side With Howard And Alston And Fail To Protect The ABC From Advertising Stephen Smith - Shadow Minister for Communications

Media Statement - 28 February 2001

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Shadow Minister for Communications, Stephen Smith, said today that the Australian Democrats had failed to protect the ABC from those who would want to see advertising on its on-line and datacasting services.

"Last night, in the Senate, the Australian Democrats joined with the Howard-Anderson Government to block Labor amendments that would have extended the operation of the ABC's Act and Charter to the ABC's provision of on-line and datacasting services," Mr Smith said.

"The most important feature of Labor's amendments was that they would have extended the ban that currently prevents advertising on the ABC's broadcasting services to the ABC's on-line and datacasting services.

"To say that I am gob-smacked by the Australian Democrats betrayal of the independence of the ABC is an understatement," Mr Smith said.

"Ever since the Telstra-ABC On-line deal, Australians have been rightly concerned about any moves to commercialise the ABC. These concerns were heightened by the leaking of the Bales Report late last year, that advised on how to establish advertising and commercial links on the ABC's website, ABC On-line.

"Last night the Australian Democrats had an opportunity to make it clear that advertising on the ABC is totally unacceptable. Instead, they sided with the Howard-Anderson Government to oppose Labor's amendments, just as they sided with the Government on the GST.

"It is no wonder that the Australian Democrats' own membership has lost faith in their Parliamentary representatives.

"Australians now only have one real option if they want to protect the independence of the ABC at the forthcoming election and that is to vote Labor," Mr Smith concluded.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.