Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Evidence of Smoky lederhosen at the European Parliament.

They attempt to cover up parlous viewing figures on their €40 million website

Back in September President Barosso made his infamous "State of the (EU) nation" speech to the European Parliament. You remember the one where MEPs were threatened with fines if they didn't appear. Well having poked fun at the pomposity of it and particularly in the light of the US President's State of the Nation address, getting live viewing figures of 48 million Nigel Farage made a request of the Secretary General of the European Parliament,

Dear Sir

Some correspondents in the UK tell me that, despite the millions being spent on the EP-website, they were unable to obtain simultaneous translation of the speeches, this morning.

I should also like to know the "hit-rate" for the live Barroso-speech, if you have any indication available.

Yours faithfully

Nigel Farage
All very cordial like. The response from Klaus Welle, the German (CDU) Secretary General of the Parliament, was written on the 14th Oct and received on the 18th - On the cusp of the strict 6 weeks limit, (as an aside, no other group leader would receive such tardy service - it itself a calculated insult from a massively paid civil servant to a democratically elected member, if Daul, Schulz or perish the thought even Cohen-Bendit had written the answer would be by return - but I shall let that pass).

The response was interesting. It accepted that there are technical issues with the website (which given the spend should have been ironed out by now) but when it came to hits Welle said,

"Regarding the number of hits, we do not have exact figures because of the variety of access to live streaming of the plenary... but the technicians have told us that the intensity of the traffic was overall more than double the average traffic during ordinary plenary sessions".
A statement that might be described as economical with the actualitie, given what we read here,

This is an interview with George Kasimatis, who runs Europarl TV and is responsible for the website that hosts the live stream, it was published today in New Europe.

Would it be possible to get a specific number for just the website?
We have the analysis of the website, but we do not make them publically available for the time being.That seems to me to be pretty conclusive. They have the figures, they just don't want to give them out. The reason why is simple, fear of being laughed at.

What´s the reason we can´t get these figures?
What would happen is that journalists could take that figure and say “no, that´s the viewers of EuroparlTV”. The website represents the minority of viewership for EuroparlTV.The purpose of EuroparlTV is not to have its own website but to have its content viewed by the citizens. What we count is where we are present, and where we are viewed. The goal - our philosophy if you want, is the distribution. The impact is not the views of the website, is the total views of the content produced by EuroparlTV
But you see we are talking about people watching the speech live, not those watching the thing on news bulletins. We know that 48 million watch the US president's State of the Union live, we have no idea how many watch clips on news bulletins, so the fact that the footage is then reused is of not relevance to the question.

Another interesting aspect of the interview is the sheer cost of the website,

There was the budget of €40 million for four years. You are just on the
beginning of the third year. Has the budget been adapted to the crisis?

The new version of EuroparlTV website we have just launched cost €250 000. In 2009 the budget was €9 million. We didn’t spend the whole budget. This 9 million is split between the two companies. One company, TwoFour, has the technical support
which is about €1.5 million, there is €500,000 for promotion, and €7 million goes to production through Mostra. What is interesting that €2 million of this €7 million, goes to translation of the content into 22 languages. For the next year we are going to spend much less than €9 million because we can do a lot of things internally; we have developed our studios, we have developed our equipment. We are expecting to economize because we are using our equipment, our infrastructure so the total budget will go down. We expect to spend €5 million on content instead of €7 million. We may not translate all the content into 22 languages.We are also going into more and more co-production. We have already organized three debates with Euronews – one in June with the President of the Parliament and leaders of the political groups, one was in September on the Roma issue and we have just done one on October 12.
And for these huge sums it must be inconceivable, as Mr Welle suggests, that they don't have the figures. So it appears that Mr Welle's pants are on fire and he has told an untruth to a Member of the Parliament. Now, what does the rulebook have to say about that?

Maybe Article 12 about bringing the institution into disrepute (Oh I remember that) but he might be able to claim justification via, Article 17

An official shall refrain from any unauthorised disclosure of information received in the line of duty, unless that information has already been made public or is accessible to the public.
Which seems to give him permission to refuse to answer. But surely this doesn't allow him to give an untruth?

Would that we had an FOI act in the European Institutions.

1 comment:

Andreas Dietl said...

Stupid as always. Just to set at least some of the facts right:

- EuroparlTV (http://europarltv.eu) is not "the website hosting the live stream", but one of two websites. The other is, in case you shouldn't know, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/eng-internet-publisher/eplive/public/default.do?language=en, and Kasimatis is not in charge of that and can't comment on it.

- "But you see we are talking about people watching the speech live, not those watching the thing on news bulletins." That's what you are not quite talking about, but it was by no means what Kasimatis was being interviewed about. It's one of the cheaper tricks to reproach a person not to answer a question that hasn't been asked.

And so it goes on, mixing up Welle and Kasimatis although they are each in charge of different pieces of cake. Oh well, not that I'd expected anything else.