Thanet Star

Kent TV Faces the Axe

Kent TV could be scrapped by the Labour Party if they win a majority in the Kent County Council elections.

Kent TV is widely regarded as overly expensive and not good value for money. One blogger goes so far as to call it "bollocks". This is mirrored by Kent TVs lack of impact on the social media space for Thanet and Kent as a whole. It has been largly out competed by YouTube which bloggers seem to have a solid preference for.

(It looks like Tony did not get in)

Citing the 1.4 Million already spent on the Kent TV project (and the promise of another 400,000 proposed to be spent on it) the Labour party are suggesting the money could be better spent elsewhere.

I'm inclined to agree. Though this would mean that TDC would have to host their video's elsewhere (read more about the Kent TV hosting plans on Big News Margate). On the other hand it would mean that KCC would have the funds to help them self host.

Calling the conservative policies "out of touch with reality" the Kent County Labour Party Manifesto for 2009 promises to "Scrap Kent TV and improve KCC's website", "ensure proper sports provision in every school" and spend less time and money on self promotion in favour of listening to people.

Keep reading to find out how much Labour claim KCC have cost us.

Labour list 24,683,000 as the "Total Tory Waste" (and also note the 50 Million lost in the Icelandic Banks failure). A big part of this figure is the cost of running Kent TV which has half the features of open and open source services and system freely available to anyone with a bit of time on their hands.

KCC under the Conservatives have, effectively, attempted to reinvent the wheel in a most expensive way.

From a technical point of view (mine) Kent TV is not well implemented and requires to much manual administration to be maintained. This increases staffing costs while also increasing the chances that something might go wrong and not be noticed.

As an advanced technical user and consultant on such matters I am baffled by the lack of modern insight that Kent TV has demonstrated in it's implementation. Even keeping the budget but investing in an open or somewhat open project would have brought Kent TV not only a ready to roll platform but industry respect for not only partnering with an established web business or organisation but for advancing technology.

Instead they have created a code base that, frankly, would not sell for very much if anything.

As an example YouTube and most other systems that I am aware of silently detect bandwidth issues and simply present you Hi-Res, Med-Res or Low-Res as your default and allow you to change things if you want. (You tube lets you switch up to HD at will). Not so Kent TV which uses a javascript based redirect to leave you sitting there looking at geeky stats for a few second before you get the option of seeing what you came for.

Not only is this shocking SEO (many an engine will be blocked or cloaked in (both bad moves)) but it just looks shabby when the average professional product can do that on the fly. It's only a session cookie value your setting for goodness sake.

The search results load too slowly and are laid out in a very poor manor. Careful use of more servers, MemCache and a better researched results page would improve things considerably.

Kent TV can not be sold in my opinion because it lacks value. KCC have failed to provide it with sufficient meat to be worth taking on. It would be expensive to bring up to industry standard and expensive to run. A good media site is about efficiency and value and KCC have not managed to bring this.

This apparent lack of value is not what a good council should be doing. They should be creating value and fostering an assit at every stage.

In developing technology I have always looked to the market leaders to see the standards they are using. facebook is very open about how it does things and KCC would have been well advised to consider using this free information in Kent TV. They appear not have done this. With a project called MyWall I have looked very closely at facebook. With a budget of 0.00 I already am off to a better start. What was stopping the conservative run KCC?

If KCC had used an open source project they would have advanced the common good and had software that they could promote to all Kent to encourage Kent businesses to compete online and thus increase the Kent IT profile. This would make jobs and attract IT professionals to the area.

Partnering with a closed sourced, semi-open or public API project would at the very least have had similar effects for Kent and at best would have left KCC with a share of a profitable business.

As it stands KCC has weak code, weak social presence, weak SEO and weak value (if any). No one has been impressed (aside from Saint Bob) and IT professionals were not attracted to the area.

Conservatives have, traditionally, been the better party at attracting technology businesses and yet it fell to Labour to point out the lack of value for money.

I'm not sure how I feel about that other than I don't think very highly of the effort. For a fraction of the cost I could have had a similar project running with far more success and much lower overheads. Councils (and Bob G)pay heed: fame only gets you so far - then you need technology insight such as Adullam Limited (my company) can offer as can others.

It would have cost a lot less to have someone such as myself come in and consult on the selection and bidding process. Which reminds me - was such a bidding process used?

I'll ask the Labour Party...

In the mean time how do you feel about Kent TV getting the axe?

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Public Comments

This Normal comment was left by Dave Semple [score: 0]:

As much as I would like to see Labour get in and up-end Tory spending priorities (or lack of them), it's not going to happen.
05/05/2009 15:49:29

This Normal comment was left by Dave [score: 0]:

I dont think KCC will have had the foresight to share in any future profits that may have accrued if the technogolgy had been leading edge. It will be the media company that profits if more councils sign up. KCC having put up the money in the first place. If you get the chance just watch a KCC cabinet or council webcast and you can judge for youselves the technical competence of the councillors taking part. But thats was the voters choice, as always they vote locally on national issues and not on local value.
06/05/2009 03:20:36

This Normal comment was left by Dave [score: 0]:

Matt, somebody must be reading your blog, there appears to be a bandwidth cookie in operation tonight on KentTV, I cant say if it was there earlier. (delete cookies and the bandwidth welcome comes back.

You do youself an injustice on MyWall; your design time must have come to more than the 0.0 budget! How much per day are techies charging ?
06/05/2009 14:27:34

This Normal comment was left by Matt B [score: 0]:

The development time on MyWall was probably worth at least a few grand so far. I'd have charged a months development minimum on a project of this scope (I'd expect to see three months work with the team size I have). That's the joy and drawback of being your own boss - payment only comes when the product starts giving value and not before - that alone is quite a focusing factor.
08/05/2009 07:44:10
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