29 September 2006

Scottish Executive podcast page

One podcast was downloaded just eight times

Attempts by ministers to tap into the online generation with downloads to mp3 players have been criticised by an MSP.Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives showed eight people downloaded a podcast of a recent sports summit at Stirling University.

Tory MSP Derek Brownlee questioned the amount spent on creating the downloads when “the figures are so poor”.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said the service had only recently started and he expected it to grow in popularity.

Finance Minister Tom McCabe revealed the figures in an answer to a parliamentary question.

Handheld device

The figures also showed 16 downloads for a recent schools junk food event and 32 for the Athletes Commission for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The first audio podcast of First Minister’s Questions was made available on 7 September and the second on 14 September.

Over these eight days, there were 580 downloads.

Mr Brownlee said that after registering his query on 14 September, the number of downloads for the Stirling event, attended by sports minister Patricia Ferguson, jumped from eight to 90.

This included one download by the executive’s web team.

Mr Brownlee, the Tory finance spokesman, said: “In the four days after I submitted my questions the number of downloads of Patricia Ferguson’s Sport Summit increased eleven-fold.

“Were civil servants and party workers ordered home to top up the original embarrassing answer of eight?”

Mr Brownlee added: “It is concerning that the figures are so poor and, as of yet, we do not know how much money has been spent on the project.”


Handheld devices are used to make the downloads

Podcasts – web-based broadcasts which can be downloaded to a mobile or handheld device such as an iPod – were first posted on the executive website on 8 September.

Mr Brownlee has requested information about the cost of the scheme from ministers.

An executive spokesman said the service had been developed in-house at no additional cost.

“To suggest that executive staff have been ordered to download ministerial podcasts to boost numbers is complete nonsense,” he said.

“We make no apology for trying to engage with different audiences through modern technology.”