Last week, the Salford Star revealed that Salford Council had spent almost £10,000 filming its meetings which delivered huge cuts for some of the most vulnerable people in the city.
In October and November 2014, the Council paid Digital Tree Media £3,000 to stream two council meetings, while a company from Hove called Public-i was paid £2,000 per meeting, plus £202.50 travel and expenses, to film three meetings in December, January and February (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
Now, a Freedom of Information request covering the three meetings that Public-i streamed has revealed that there were only 240 viewers in total (December 42; January 87 and February 111).
The December meeting cost £52.44 per viewer; January cost £25.31 per viewer and February cost £19.84 per viewer – an average of £32.52 per viewer.
Meanwhile, even those few who watched were turned off by the grandstanding speeches by councillors. The average time spent watching the three hour meetings was just 45minutes.
Public-i broke up the broadcasts into side segments, where residents can watch the contribution of individual councillors. But, despite some of those councillors tweeting for people to watch their speeches, the viewing figures remain shocking.
While the Salford Star campaigned for council meetings to be more accessible for residents, there must be a way to use creative community companies from Salford – the so-called `Media City' – to do this work, raise much needed income and maybe raise the profile of the screenings so more people might watch. And, perhaps, a lack of party political broadcasting, Mayoral windbagging and more scrutiny might help too.
In the meantime, councillors playing to the cameras and the Salford Mayor trying to pack the public gallery with his own supporters to quell protests (see here) is a costly show that no-one wants to see.
* When the Salford Star did the first ever livestream of Salford Council last August, over 400 residents tuned in to see the Mayor and the Council actually being held accountable over the Salford Reds public money scandal - see here