Federal Government marketing expenditure that was initiated in an effort to drive consumers into retail stores to buy digital TV flat panel TV’s and set top boxes has blown out “significantly” from an estimated $16M to $66M. The blowout is set to embarrass the Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy.
Figures released by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to the Australian newspaper reveal that budgeted costs for switchover communications strategies over the next three years have risen despite Stephen Conroy promising to slash over $20M from the cost of the switchover to digital TV.
Managed by the Digital Switchover Taskforce the budget blowout could see big cuts made in the second year of the campaign say industry observers. All analogue TV will be switched off by December 31, 2013.
Mark Day writing in the Australian said that at last May’s budget Senator Conroy announced a three-year funding package of almost $140m to cover all aspects of the switchover. This included a substantial increase in the amount allocated for advertising and preparing the community for the changes.
At the June Senate Estimates hearing, Opposition communications spokesman Nick Minchin asked: “Can you confirm that you are budgeting to spend approximately $12m in 2009-10, $17.8m in 2010-11 and $8.6m in 2011-12 on communication campaigns regarding switchover?”
Last week the department replied: “The amount budgeted for communication campaigns for switchover in 2009-10 is $23m; in 2010-11 is $22.5m; and 2011-12 is $13.4m.”
The expenditure according to Day, was made up of $2.4m for advertising creative and production of two television and one radio commercials, $3.5m for media buying, almost $800,000 for research, $177,000 for a function to announce the “digital tick” campaign and almost $200,000 for printing, mailing and a call centre. The radio commercial was recorded in 21 languages.