Cripes! I see my old chum Lord Gnome has published a piece about Kent TV's rather ham-fisted attempts at silencing Tony Flaig of Bignews Margate fame! The article, in the 'Rotten Boroughs' section of this week's Private Eye, begins:
KENT county council’s bold experiment in being the first local authority to run its own internet TV station has not been universally welcomed in the Garden of England. Or universally watched, for that matter.
One man of Kent who thought he had a democratic right to criticise the use to which his council tax was put got a shock when he did so. Bob Geldof’s production company Ten Alps, which makes Kent TV, threatened him with m’learned friends for having the temerity to say he didn’t think it was up to much.
Margate blogger Tony Flaig had been a regular critic of KTV. Not only did he describe the £1.6m spent on the channel - launched in September 2007 by Nigel Dacre, brother of the Daily Mail’s Paul - as 'Kent’s most contentious waste of money' but he also claimed that it devoted too much time to interviews with members of the ruling Tory party.
Although Mr Flaig wasn’t glued to KTV, they were paying close attention to his blog. He received a pompous letter from Jo Phillips, 'director of communications' for Ten Alps, claiming he had made 'inappropriate, unlawful and damaging defamatory allegations about Kent TV and the people who work there'. Ms Phillips, who has since left the company, concluded: 'Please therefore ensure that your blog does not publish any further defamatory statements about Kent TV. I trust you will not do so, but if you do, you should note that Ten Alps reserves the right, if appropriate to protect the reputations of our staff, to initiate legal proceedings without further reference to you.'
The letter had the desired effect. Since receiving it last year Mr Flaig, a railway tracklayer, has desisted from criticising KTV for fear of a writ. 'What next?' he asks the Eye. 'Will Tarmac sue me if I say Kent’s roads are crap?' He has been unable to establish whether council leader Paul Carter endorsed Ten Alps’s threatening letter. Last week he received an opaque missive from Geoff Wild, Kent CC’s director of law & governance, containing the line: 'If you continue to choose to exercise your right to free speech in the manner that you do - as is your right - you must expect to take whatever consequences the law provides…' Very reassuring.
Kent resident Geldof - he lives in a modest priory near Faversham - countered criticisms of KTV by appearing on it before Christmas. With his customary exactitude, Saint Bob explained: 'It’s the old establishment versus the new kids on the block. This spurious beating up of Kent TV on the notion that it’s political is rubbish, it’s a commercial attack. It’s a great service - it’s precisely what should happen with this amazing thing.'
Oh, do fock off, Bob!
Oops, silly me. I seem to have reprinted the entire article there. I'd better scarper before Lord Gnome's m'learneds come after me for copyright infringement!