Will this cyberspace be kept ad-free?

Fears from lobby groups - such as Friends of the ABC - that the ABC's recently anointed managing director, Jonathon Shier, would allow the broadcaster to be influenced by commercial pressures, were quelled when he suddenly pulled out of the Telstra deal earlier this month.

However, in a press conference held last Friday, Shier intimated plans to develop an ABC portal -- linking the ABC website with external sites -- on which he would "consider carrying advertising".

"What I'm more interested in is the e-commerce possibilities," he said. "I don't see advertising being a major source of revenue."

Shier also dismissed the merits of internet banner advertising as "titillation".

He explained that banner advertising could lead internet users away from the broadcaster's own content and towards others, perhaps payment-based content providers, leaving little commercial interest for the ABC.

If the ABC portal carries banner advertisements, then the broadcaster will attempt to devise an internet advertising revenue model whereby revenues attracted through banner advertisements are fed back into ABC funding, he said.

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