Facts about Kent TV are broadcast
Information watchdog orders KCC to release more funding details of Kent TV project
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.
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”.
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.