The first official Webcast of Parliamentary debates received a low-key response on Monday, with no more than 2,500 people logging on to the site in the first day.
The Parliament TV Web site launched with the streaming of defence questions in the House of Commons, and questions on the environment in the Lords. But in its first day, the site served 7,223 video-streams to a total of 2,460 unique users. This is a modest figure in comparison to the 81,000 viewers who simultaneously logged on to watch the Webcast of Steve Jobs' keynote at Macworld on 9 January.
But a spokesperson at Parliament was adamant the first viewing figures were encouraging for a service that hasn't been widely publicised. "We're delighted. This is no ordinary Web site, this is video streaming technology being used to the full to allow Parliament to make its debates accessible to the wider public," said the spokesperson. "The response and the positive feedback we have been receiving from users is better than even we had anticipated."
More encouraging was the fact that most visitors to the site accessed with streaming rates of between 56k and 120k. The trend suggests that Parliament is meeting its target audience of home users using a modem or ISDN.
The Parliamentary Webcasts are an experimental pilot project, currently Webcasting both Houses of Parliament and Select Committees. It will be run in differing forms until December 2002, when the House of Commons and House of Lords will then a decision about the long-term future of the service.
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