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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Since when was tweeting the same as broadcasting?

It is being claimed that the leader of Cornwall Council, Cllr Alec Robertson is looking pretty foolish tonight after 'banning' tweeting from a cabinet meeting.

The Broadcasting Code of Practice sets out the procedures and conduct required by Cornwall Council of any person or organisation to enable them to be permitted to film, record or broadcast any Cornwall Council meeting. - from the Proposed Broadcasting Code of Practice, Cornwall Council. (Thanks to Cllr Jeremy Rowe for this reference.)

The code goes on:

For the purposes of this Code, any reference to: “broadcast” includes references to filming, recording and any other form of electronic retention or transmission of information and references to “broadcasting” and “broadcaster” shall be similarly construed.

Nowhere in the code is Twitter, tweeting, Facebook or any other social media mentioned.

It is extremely doubtful that 'information' could ever be construed to include tweets given the context established by the code.

The natural construction of 'broadcast' in the context of this code clearly revolves around TV and radio and relaying pictures and sounds of actual events - whether live, or recorded to be 'brodcast' at a later time.

Twitter, Facebook and blogging are not 'broadcasts' of events they are clearly comment and critical analysis. As such the only difference between tweeting from a meeting and writing a report for publication in a newspaper is the absence of any time delay.

It seems that Cllr Robertson was annoyed at the satirical comments coming from the Lib Dem tweeters in particular and waded in with a kneejerk over-reaction. I think there will be a lot more satire to follow following the ban and then the immediate climbdown afterwards.

Apparently Cllr Robertson was concerned about the 'inappropriate' nature of some tweets and the impact they would have on the council.

The tweets that seemed to cause Cllr Robertson concern were making the point that Cllr Robertson was not in attendance at the cabinet meeting but was perhaps attending an awards ceremony instead.

Were some of the tweets less than academic - certainly. Did they make a relevant serious point - almost certainly.

In my opinion, if it is true that Cllr Robertson was collecting an award (rather than attending his own cabinet meeting) then this shows disdain for elected councillors and demonstrates, yet again, that Tories simply want to put CV building ahead of Cornwall.

Ok some of the tweets were rather silly - but they would have had nowhere near the negative impact on either Cornwall Council or Cllr Robertson as his subsequent action has had.

PS According to the code all requests for 'broadcasting' should be made 48 hrs in advance - I wonder if anyone has ever requested to tweet 48hrs in advance and whether this has ever been mentioned before a meeting?

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