Griffith City Council has decided not to livestream their council meetings to enable ratepayers to watch online, citing high ongoing costs and questioning the value of such an initiative.
At Tuesday’s ordinary meeting, councillors accepted the recommendation of general manger of Brett Stonestreet, that council “postpone livestreaming of Ordinary Council Meetings for the 2017/18 year and consider this project alongside other capital project bids for the 2018/19 Budget”.
Mr Stonestreet’s report to council said it approached two companies known to market meeting livestream options. The report says one failed to provide to respond, and the other quoted approximately $18,000 for initial setup and an approximate service fee of $13,000 per month ongoing.
The report also stated “online streaming of Council Meetings is not an interactive process and does not accommodate participation of the online audience [and]... the geographic size of the Griffith City boundaries are not excessive and do not require lengthy travel distances to attend Meetings”.
The decision comes despite other councils moving forward with webcasts, including nearby Wagga which started a trial of live video and audio streaming of council meetings for six months in May. Mayor Greg Conkey highlighting this as the City of Wagga Wagga’s “commitment to openness and transparency.”
At Wagga’s February meeting, is was reported to the Council that an indicative cost for the livestreaming was $1100 per meeting.
The costs includes equipment, content delivery, licenses and storage.
Wagga council informed The Area News views for livestreaming of the May meeting was 506 and for the June meeting was 696.
Carmel la Rocca, president of Griffith ratepayers group the community and development council, thinks livestreaming is a worthwhile investment.
”These days everything can be easily available on line and live streaming is already used by a number of NSW Councils, therefore, it would give the constituents the freedom to listen to the council meetings and be more up to date without attending”.
”Although it may be something of a novelty at first I believe that the residents would tire of watching the meetings after a time and watch only when it may be of concern to them.”
“Live streaming to the public may enhance and give a sense of transparency on public decision making.”
Wagga council’s trail of livestreaming will continue for another four months.