Councils are already accused by the press of producing propaganda in newspaper-style publications, now Carmarthenshire Council is under fire for plans to launch an internet TV station at a cost of £30,000 a year.
The Labour-Independent council, which already publishes a bi-monthly newspaper, Community News, has been criticised by councillors and an MP who claim the TV station will be used for "self-promotion" and as "a propaganda tool".
A provider and funding for the channel, which could be similar to Kent County Council’s, are currently being discussed. Carmarthenshire Council is planning to drop one issue of its Community News magazine to pay its share of the start up costs. The majority of the funding will be provided by the Welsh Assembly which brought forward the bilingual TV channel as a 12-month pilot project.
“This is something that concerns me greatly,” said councillor Huw Lewis reported in the Carmarthen Journal. “We are in a recession and vital and essential services are having to suffer cuts.
“Are we going to spend money on communication or building relationships with people? We have to invest our money in people and not in technology. What we don’t need at all is a computer programme which is simply a propaganda tool.”
Plaid Cymru leader councillor Peter Hughes Griffiths said he was concerned and pointed to alleged one-sided reporting in Community News. “There is a view about Community News in the community that it is very, very one-sided,” he said. “That’s a concern about the way we provide information.”
Adam Price MP added his voice to calls for the plans to be scrapped, as reported by the Journal on Friday. He said: “I am quite astonished that the county council would think it is appropriate to spend thousands of pounds of taxpayer's money on a TV channel and self promotion at the same time people in the county are struggling to make ends meet."
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