Government criticised for spending £100k on export podcast flop

Written by John Johnston on 4 March 2019 in News
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Just 8,400 people have listened to the ‘Local to Global’ podcast, equating to £12.74 per listener

The government has been criticised for splashing £100,000 on a “propaganda” podcast heard by only 8,400 people.

The show, hosted by Apprentice and Countdown star Nick Hewer, featured a series of interviews with UK exporters to discuss their “personal stories and memorable moments”. The project, produced under the Department For International Trade's 'Exporting is GREAT' campaign, is the latest attempt by the government to boost exporting figures ahead of Brexit.

According to the Mirror, the seven episodes cost a total of £107,000 to produce, but were only downloaded a total of 8,398 times. That means the DIT, led by international trade secretary Liam Fox, spent around £12.70 for each listener.

Guests on the podcast included representatives from a sunglasses producer, a clean tech company and a firm which invented a cooling system for safely exporting vaccines.


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A department spokesman said: “The Exporting is GREAT campaign aims to inspire UK companies to start exporting or to grow their exports. DIT estimates that 400,000 businesses believe they could export, but don’t, while demand for British expertise and goods is only growing. Podcasts are an excellent way to engage with current and potential exporters by telling the stories of those who have experience to share. The podcast reached 6th in the UK iTunes business charts, demonstrating real interest amongst business audiences.”

They added: “In 2017, more than 100,000 businesses took steps towards exporting as a result of the campaign, part of the government’s commitment to promote a culture of exporting – a key pillar of the Export Strategy which aims to rise exports as a proportion of GDP from 30 to 35%.”

But Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said the podcast was a “poorly executed propaganda project”.

“This vanity project is a complete waste of money,” she added. “A bit like Liam Fox’s trade deals, the government has quite simply poured money down the drain. Wherever you look the Conservatives have made a terrible mess of Brexit, this is the cherry on the cake. Rather than wasting its time on poorly executed propaganda projects the government should be spending money on our struggling public services.”

 

About the author

John Johnston is a political reporter for PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared

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