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ST Central TV “trial” ends

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ST Central TV screen grab

A poor substitute for Look North

The South Shields based JAG Productions of John and Gillian George have pulled the plug on the “trial” run internet community TV station ST Central TV – so much favoured in the Twitterings of one of our South Tyneside Independent councillors. I don’t know if you ever watched any of their content which, apart from being visible online, was also beamed on to large plasma screen units in some of our public buildings such as South Shields Town Hall, but the video production and editing was slick and quite professional. However, they lacked any real presence without any visible programme presenters, just a decent voice to do the link overs. Without the equivalent of Carol Malia, Mike Neville, or Pam Royle it was in my opinion a poor substitute for a dedicated local news programme, such as the BBC’s Look North. The recent interview with the bumbling, fumbling, fidgety, nervous and sweaty Allen Branley was a joy to behold – well, not quite, actually it was rather embarrassing to be honest.

The website had a dreadful dated static feel about it which made the reading of “news” items extremely tedious and fiddly, being bound in a table in the corner with it’s own scroll bar, as a source of local news perhaps it had something going for it, but it just didn’t look that good at all, in fact I found it rather off putting (despite being shown interviewed on camera by them).  I didn’t even realise that this was meant to be a “trial” run, I certainly didn’t notice any “beta” or similar disclaimers, did you? Well, after twelve months you do tend to forget, even if you were told at the start, and later you just sort of accept it as being there, without a thought that it would suddenly be taken down.

So, puzzled at the decision to leave the local news scene I decided to have a look at their contact page and found this number  – 24 hour mobile 07825 428976 – and decided to send a text asking what the future holds for ST Central TV, I got a reply almost instantly

“Who are you?”

Odd way to treat your viewers, I thought, but I sent another text telling the caller that I was a visitor to their website and a viewer of their TV station. Shortly my telephone rang and a male at JAG Productions told me that he was returning my call and answering my text, but first he wanted to know who I was and what was my interest. Just curiosity you know, wanting to find out what the future holds for STC TV, and who I am talking to. He replied that his name was John George and that he’s a Director of JAG, told me his name is on the website (sorry but I cannot find it) and wanted to know how the hell I had got his mobile number?

Funny thing these websites, eh?

So I told him that it was on the contact page of his website, I was wondering now if this was the first call he’d ever had via this medium,

“Oh, I didn’t know it was there”,

he told me

“Oh really”

said I

“Well I didn’t build the website”

I guess he’s never looked at it either

We went on, and I asked what his plans were for the future

“There will be an announcement on the website shortly…….and who are you, again?”

John was sounding a little curt, short, and slightly frustrated by now (in my humble opinion)

“When, exactly, is shortly?”

I asked.

“Well shortly, I’m not prepared to say right now”

said John.

“So what about all of the partners that your website says have joined in this venture with you, and the screens at the Town Hall, did they know that this was only a “trial?”

John wasn’t prepared to say but reiterated that a statement will follow in due course, the conversation died as I gave in to the battle of wits with my children and the cacophony of noise surrounding me, so we are no further forward in knowing what will happen to the internet TV station which South Tyneside Council has put so much faith in. Mind it has always struck me as being a bit odd that they should counter the criticisms about their propagandist magazine material by shoving a single TV content in front of my eyeballs, you will actually find better choice by wandering around the waiting areas in South Shields District Hospital.

But what do you make of some of the claims made today on ST Central’s website? Over 800,000 programmes viewed, in an average of 36 countries, and with 10 million viewers! I would have liked to have asked Mr. George how and what system of collating and auditing these figures he uses, and how does he justify the claim? From what I see of the source code in his pages, there is absolutely no evidence of any sort of statistical analyser or web counter at all, no html and no javascript to point at a counter, how do they know how many viewers they have had, or where they came from? Neither Alexa nor Quantcast, both reliable measures of internet readership and reach, have any data at all on JAG Productions’ ST Central website. JAG Productions also boast here of offering JAGSportsTV, a channel dedicated to sport, except it ain’t there either!

The Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board collates viewing figures for popular TV programmes and this page shows that programmes like Eastenders regularly switch on less than 9 million viewers and that Coronation Street has been getting less than 10 million viewers, so, are we supposed to believe that more people prefer the news from South Tyneside?

Even if the 10 million figure represents the total viewers over a 52 week period, it equates to more than 192,000 per week. Is this credible?

I’m sure that we would all love to learn the facts about ST Central TV and it’s contracts and relationships with it’s partners, and how, or if, it plans to monetize it’s community based website. In it’s present format (in my humble opinion) it is no match for the well produced websites such as those offered by the newspaper industry, and certainly not something that I believe our locally elected representatives could honourably promote as a substitute for The Shields Gazette.

If you were a viewer of ST Central, I’d like to know what you thought of their “trial”.

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Written by curly

July 27, 2009 at 8:23 pm

6 Responses

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  1. i think st central was the best thing to happen to south tyneside, its much better than this bkog of pure lies


    January 16, 2010 at 10:32 pm

  2. Your comments are purely a matter of conjecture and opinion Janet.


    January 17, 2010 at 1:18 am

  3. I visited the STCentral website on several occations, the first time I was not impressed, I never seen anything about a “trial”, to one day visit the site and see it had closed down I wasn’t supprised, the claim for the number of viewers I don’t believe.

    I much prefer The Shields Gazette website which I visit daily.


    June 22, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    • I agree Alex, it wasn’t the most entertaining or informative “news” site that I’d ever visited.


      June 22, 2010 at 10:11 pm

      • micky mouse operations all over again i see….. shame..!!


        May 15, 2012 at 12:18 am

  4. More of a joke, more of a micky mouse operation i wonder if its true… they worked with ITV or even sky….., i work for itv in the play out centre in london, and they havent even herd of them !! i wonder if sky knows about them!!


    May 15, 2012 at 12:16 am

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