Hampshire County Council's live streaming of meetings attracts few viewers

Daily Echo: Ken Thornber Ken Thornber

IT HARDLY has the dramatic suspense of EastEnders or Coronation Street .

Neither does it have the comedy scripts of Yes Minister nor the family entertainment value of the X Factor .

And if its success was purely based on viewing figures it would almost certainly have been pulled from the TV schedules by now.

Viewing figures for Hampshire’s controversial “Ken TV” have plummeted in just six months.

Now there are calls for the plug to be pulled on the screening of live county council meetings – dubbed Ken TV after council leader Ken Thornber .

But bosses, who spent more than £220,000 of taxpayers’ cash to broadcast meetings live, stand by the scheme.

More than 800 people tuned in to watch the first televised budget setting meeting last February when the ruling Tories approved cuts of £45m.

But just 108 people watched May’s meeting while this month’s meeting attracted only 57 viewers.

Meanwhile a meeting of the ruling Cabinet last April was watched by 167 people either live on the council website or recorded footage.

Conservative Cllr Thornber revealed the figures at the council meeting, adding: “Maybe Cabinet is more popular than the council.”

A councillor from the Liberal Democrat benches shouted out: “More comedy” to laughter in the chamber.

As reported, the council spent £223,000 on audio, video and webstreaming equipment and paying an outside company to operate it.

County chiefs hoped to open up council meetings to a wider audience.

But Councillor Keith House , Liberal Democrat opposition spokesman, said: “The Liberal Democrats have always said this was a waste of money and could have helped keep library hours up or more buses or youth services in place.

“It’s always been a Conservative vanity project.”

Chrisine Melsom, co-ordinator of anti-council tax group IsItFair, said: “What a waste of money. I am not at all surprised because council meetings are terribly boring – and I am interested in local politics .”

Mrs Melsom said the broadcasts had a “novelty value” but viewers would quickly be turned-off by meetings lasting for hours, “waffle” and party political in-fighting.

However Councillor Colin Davidovitz, communications chief, said he was not disappointed by the viewing figures – and claimed it was a good use of taxpayers’ money.

He said: “It is to be expected. The first meeting was the budget setting meeting and there was a lot of interest. The Cabinet meeting also attracted interest as there was discussion about the amalgamation of a couple of schools.”

He added: “My daughter watches from Hong Kong to see what her father is up to.”

Comments (14)

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12:36pm Thu 26 Jul 12

Torchie1 says...

Is there anyone else on politics who has such an inflated opinion of themselves and their empire?
Is there anyone else on politics who has such an inflated opinion of themselves and their empire? Torchie1

12:41pm Thu 26 Jul 12

Taskforce 141 says...

Surely people have better things to be doing with their lives than watching this tosh?
Surely people have better things to be doing with their lives than watching this tosh? Taskforce 141

1:42pm Thu 26 Jul 12

Maine Lobster says...

Typical that those who have brought in this nonsense are standing by it. Having spent £223,000 it would not do for anyone in a senior position to admit to a mistake, would it?
Unfortunately,this is how public services waste valuable resources. Hair brained schemes by empire buildrers and overpaid executives building their C.V. If they had the guts to admit to an error,we might have a bit more respect. Sadly,that honesty and transparency is probably far more that we can hope for.
Typical that those who have brought in this nonsense are standing by it. Having spent £223,000 it would not do for anyone in a senior position to admit to a mistake, would it? Unfortunately,this is how public services waste valuable resources. Hair brained schemes by empire buildrers and overpaid executives building their C.V. If they had the guts to admit to an error,we might have a bit more respect. Sadly,that honesty and transparency is probably far more that we can hope for. Maine Lobster

2:01pm Thu 26 Jul 12

G0Rf says...

What a waste of ££££££!
What a waste of ££££££! G0Rf

2:01pm Thu 26 Jul 12

Lone Ranger. says...

What a disgraceful waste of Public money ...... and the £230k spent on the TV is, just as, distasteful.
What a disgraceful waste of Public money ...... and the £230k spent on the TV is, just as, distasteful. Lone Ranger.

2:26pm Thu 26 Jul 12

Stephen J says...

A £223 000 project that has so far attracted only 1132 'participants', to use the Council's own terminology. The world can see they got this one grossly wrong and the resulting PR disaster is even now unfolding across the internet.
A £223 000 project that has so far attracted only 1132 'participants', to use the Council's own terminology. The world can see they got this one grossly wrong and the resulting PR disaster is even now unfolding across the internet. Stephen J

3:42pm Thu 26 Jul 12

bazzeroz says...

Of course they'll stand by spending that amount of money. Why look stupid and disagree? Total wasters!
Of course they'll stand by spending that amount of money. Why look stupid and disagree? Total wasters! bazzeroz

4:39pm Thu 26 Jul 12

Bagamn says...

Don't just pull the plug, throw out Thornber and his idealistic cronies.
Don't just pull the plug, throw out Thornber and his idealistic cronies. Bagamn

5:18pm Thu 26 Jul 12

sotonbusdriver says...

Had the equipment been installed in the office, where most are probably having affairs with their secretaries, then It might have attracted more viewers.
People like nothing more than sordid viewing...
Had the equipment been installed in the office, where most are probably having affairs with their secretaries, then It might have attracted more viewers. People like nothing more than sordid viewing... sotonbusdriver

6:58pm Thu 26 Jul 12

cantthinkofone says...

Never heard of it, and I'd willingly watch. Accountability and transparency of the local legislature is a vital concept.

Did they publicise this at all? If so, not well enough.
Never heard of it, and I'd willingly watch. Accountability and transparency of the local legislature is a vital concept. Did they publicise this at all? If so, not well enough. cantthinkofone

8:05pm Thu 26 Jul 12

good-gosh says...

I will watch it, now I know about it.
Next: full council mtg – 10am 20-Sep-2012
I will watch it, now I know about it. Next: full council mtg – 10am 20-Sep-2012 good-gosh

9:30pm Thu 26 Jul 12

Stephen J says...

cantthinkofone wrote:
Never heard of it, and I'd willingly watch. Accountability and transparency of the local legislature is a vital concept.

Did they publicise this at all? If so, not well enough.
Only all across all their own external communications and a huge PR campaign in the local media.
[quote][p][bold]cantthinkofone[/bold] wrote: Never heard of it, and I'd willingly watch. Accountability and transparency of the local legislature is a vital concept. Did they publicise this at all? If so, not well enough.[/p][/quote]Only all across all their own external communications and a huge PR campaign in the local media. Stephen J

9:39pm Thu 26 Jul 12

Stephen J says...

good-gosh wrote:
I will watch it, now I know about it.
Next: full council mtg – 10am 20-Sep-2012
I can imagine the reaction I would have had from my County Council bosses when I tried to assure them that all publicity was good publicity when it came to my completely messed up project. "Ah, but at least people now know about it..." A P45 would have been the swift response.
[quote][p][bold]good-gosh[/bold] wrote: I will watch it, now I know about it. Next: full council mtg – 10am 20-Sep-2012[/p][/quote]I can imagine the reaction I would have had from my County Council bosses when I tried to assure them that all publicity was good publicity when it came to my completely messed up project. "Ah, but at least people now know about it..." A P45 would have been the swift response. Stephen J

6:53pm Fri 27 Jul 12

cantthinkofone says...

Stephen J wrote:
cantthinkofone wrote:
Never heard of it, and I'd willingly watch. Accountability and transparency of the local legislature is a vital concept.

Did they publicise this at all? If so, not well enough.
Only all across all their own external communications and a huge PR campaign in the local media.
Saw nothing on this site (may have been something but it clearly passed me by if so), nothing on city billboards, nothing on the buses.

I'd guess that at least 80% of people in the city pay little attention to local media and bin anything that comes through the letterbox from the council along with all the other junk mail.

To reach a broad range of people you need to utilise a broad range of mediums, and sustain the effort.

And public information like this also needs to be communicated in a way that makes it instantly clear that it's distinct from advertising.
[quote][p][bold]Stephen J[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]cantthinkofone[/bold] wrote: Never heard of it, and I'd willingly watch. Accountability and transparency of the local legislature is a vital concept. Did they publicise this at all? If so, not well enough.[/p][/quote]Only all across all their own external communications and a huge PR campaign in the local media.[/p][/quote]Saw nothing on this site (may have been something but it clearly passed me by if so), nothing on city billboards, nothing on the buses. I'd guess that at least 80% of people in the city pay little attention to local media and bin anything that comes through the letterbox from the council along with all the other junk mail. To reach a broad range of people you need to utilise a broad range of mediums, and sustain the effort. And public information like this also needs to be communicated in a way that makes it instantly clear that it's distinct from advertising. cantthinkofone

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