Facts about Kent TV are broad­cast

In­for­ma­tion watch­dog or­ders KCC to release more fund­ing de­tails of Kent TV project

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Remember When? - by Paul Fran­cis

Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor KENT County Coun­cil has been forced to release more de­tails about the fund­ing of Kent TV, its £1.4million in­ter­net-based TV sta­tion fol­low­ing a rul­ing by a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion watch­dog.

The rul­ing fol­lows a suc­cess­ful chal­lenge by the Kent Mes­sen­ger Group, which has been en­gaged in a long-run­ning dis­pute with the county coun­cil over its re­fusal to dis­close in­for­ma­tion about a fea­si­bil­ity study for Kent TV.

Cen­sored

The sta­tion was launched in Septem­ber last year and is be­ing op­er­ated by Ten Alps, a com­pany founded by Sir Bob Geldof.

Now the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sioner has ruled the county coun­cil was wrong to with­hold some of the in­for­ma­tion we asked for. He also said KCC was wrong to pro­vide us with a cen­sored ver­sion of a brief­ing note pro­vided to county coun­cil­lors and has or­dered the full brief­ing note to be pub­lished.

In his rul­ing, the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sioner said he ac­cepted the Kent Mes­sen­ger Group’s ar­gu­ment that “the coun­cil should be open and trans­par­ent about the costs in­curred by the tax­payer”.

As a re­sult, it was in the pub­lic in­ter­est “to dis­close the costs borne by the pub­lic for the es­tab­lish­ment and main­te­nance of the TV chan­nel”.

Sky

He re­jected the coun­cil’s ar­gu­ment that those de­tails should be kept se­cret on grounds of com­mer­cial sen­si­tiv­ity and said the coun­cil had failed to demon­strate how its com­mer­cial in­ter­ests would be af­fected by full dis­clo­sure of the coun­cil­lors’ brief­ing doc­u­ment.

The in­for­ma­tion now re­leased re­veals that at the time KCC was con­sid­er­ing set­ting up Kent TV, it had con­sid­ered whether to es­tab­lish it as a stand-alone dig­i­tal TV sta­tion broad­cast on Sky. It also re­veals the yearly run­ning costs could be as much as £695,000 a year, nearly £200,000 more than it has ac­tu­ally set aside.

The county coun­cil has al­ways ar­gued that Kent TV will be­come self-fi­nanc­ing but set aside £1.2mil­lion to cover run­ning costs and in ad­di­tion spent £200,000 on setup costs.

How­ever, in his rul­ing on our com­plaint, the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sioner says KCC need not release a doc­u­ment set­ting out the full busi­ness case for the project.

The Kent Mes­sen­ger Group had ar­gued it was in the pub­lic in­ter­est for that doc­u­ment to be pub­lished in full.

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