The Kent Messenger Group has called on the Information Commissioner to force Kent County Council to disclose details about its £1.4m broadband TV service, Kent TV, which launched last Friday.
Digital media company Ten Alps, of which Sir Bob Geldof is a director, has been contracted to run the new service for residents. Geldof has said it will be ‘utterly independent”.
KMG political editor Paul Francis has had FoI requests for details about the station turned down by the council and has now submitted his second appeal to the Information Commissioner for details about an independent feasibility study into the project.
KMG’s initial request was turned down on the grounds that the tender process was still under way. A second request on completion of the tender process was also rejected. The council argued that details from the study were commercially sensitive and that it was considering selling the information to other organisations.
Francis said that, while the council had produced a four-page cabinet document, Kent TV had played down business risks involved in the venture while emphasising its positive aspects.
He said: ‘The county council has faced criticism from some of its own councillors about the costs of Kent TV and whether it is viable. We believe the council should have been more transparent and open but it has chosen to move the goalposts every time we have submitted a request to see the feasibility study.”
The council claims the service, which aims to debate local issues with residents, could become self-financing through advertising revenue, but Francis said there has been no independent assessment or evaluation of those claims put into the public domain.
A spokeswoman for Kent County Council said: ‘KCC commissioned considerable research before going ahead with the project. This is still commercially valuable to us; other councils who have expressed an interest in following Kent TV may well want to buy it. We do not see why, having done the research, we should then make it freely available.’
Kent TV carries a news service provided by the Kent on Sunday newspaper group, over which KCC claims to have no control.