Implementation and Management Approach
When implementing Kent TV, Kent County Council made the decision to put the project forward to tender to attract a media company to run Kent TV independently. It was decided that the channel should report to an independent board of governors and adhere to Ofcom guidelines. In order to maintain impartiality it is important that an external company with expertise in this field should be hired to run the channel.
When writing the business case for Kent TV it was decided that we would opt for a broadband channel as opposed to a digital/satellite channel that would be hosted by a company such as SKY TV. There were two overriding factors which influenced our decision, the first was accessibility; it is estimated that 98% of Kent is covered by broadband and around 72% of households have access to the internet, in addition to this Kent also has broadband readily available for people to use in both libraries and schools. We felt that broadband had a greater reach than cable or satellite and people were more likely to watch us on the internet as opposed to on TV.
The second factor was costs, hosting a broadband channel is substantially cheaper. Kent TV currently costs Â£600,000 a year, which includes the employment of 10 local staff, a commissioning budget to hire local production companies to make one off series and the ability to archive all material making it available on demand. The majority of the programming is made by four video journalists who have extensive knowledge of the county and are able to use this to create quality and informed programmes.
The editor is entirely responsible for the creative content and makes decisions with regards to what topics and issues should be covered by the four journalists. The editor employed by the contracted company delivering Kent TV and is therefore completely independent from the council. This enables the channel to be impartial and cover any topic they may wish. This impartiality has meant that in the past Kent TV has been able to cover stories which the council might not ordinarily have sanctioned.Â
The Board of Governors to whom Kent TV reports is made up of industry experts, local businessmen, representatives from the three main political parties, and representatives from fire, police and the National Health Service. The board meets quarterly and receives updates from senior staff at Kent TV and KCC, they are also presented with any major ideas or concepts that will change the direction in which Kent TV moves forward, for example the launching of additional services such as What's On.
All videos submitted to Kent TV are vetted to ensure that they comply to Ofcom guidelines. All information that is placed on Kent TV is available indefinitely and is available to view on demand. The ICT is managed by the contracted company and mechanisms are in place to ensure that any downtime is limited and dealt with quickly and efficiently.
Currently Kent TV is funded entirely by Kent County Council, however in the future we would envisage that the service would be part funded by other authorities in Kent, including NHS, Fire and Police.
Prior to the launch of Kent TV, the Council investigated many different avenues which explored accessibility, dissemination and costs.
It was felt that by launching Kent TV through a satellite provider, the channel would be lost amongst many others; there was also a concern that this would limit the number of people that could access the service. When considering our options there was lots of evidence that pointed towards the future of broadband. Through careful examination of our data, it was felt that broadband would enable us to communicate with those who typically have no or limited interaction with the council. It was hoped that by attracting these groups to the site they might then access other information which they would not normally be exposed to through traditional means.
By hosting the channel on broadband internet it opened up opportunities for people to have greater interaction with the service. They would be able to become directly involved by uploading their own content, watching what they wanted when they wanted and we are able to take their suggestions and make the service more tailored to their ideas.
Since the launch Kent TV has been able to exploit the true potential of broadband and extend the services it offers to include a What's On guide, which allows the public to upload events from concerts to markets and KentTV.mobi which allows the public to access Kent TV from their mobiles and Blackberrys.
Launching Kent TV on broadband has also proved to be a cost effective way of running the service. Instead of paying large costs to a satellite provider, the money is spent on providing quality programming that can be watched on demand. Since Kent TV's launch in September 2007 many other services have since begun to exploit the capabilities of broadband including the BBC Iplayer, which allows viewers to watch BBC programmes up to 7 days after their television transmission.Â Â
To maintain complete impartiality Kent County Council decided that Kent TV should be subject to Ofcom Guidelines. This means that all videos must be vetted to ensure that they a suitable to view prior to watershed, there must not be any political bias and the channel must maintain impartiality. It is primarily for this reason that Kent TV is delivered by an independent production company that maintains complete editorial control over content.