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BBC should spend extra £30million on programming for Wales – says National Assembly committee

01/02/2017

  • The BBC should fund a Wales news opt-out for Radio 1 and Radio 2;
  • There should be no more funding cuts for S4C until a planned review has been completed;
  • ITV Studios should be more proactive in developing programming for the UK network which reflects life in Wales.

The  BBC should spent an extra £30million on English language drama and broadcasting in Wales, according to a National Assembly committee.

The Culture, Welsh Language and Communication Committee has been looking at the broadcast media industry in Wales and how it serves audiences in Wales and the UK.

It also concluded that there should be a Wales opt-out for news on Radio 1 and Radio 2, to better reflect what is going on in Welsh society.

In evidence to the Committee, the Director-General of the BBC, Tony Hall, agreed Wales needed a better funding package but was not in a position to say how much at the time. He pledged to do so in early in 2017.

Another recommendation is that funding for Welsh language broadcaster S4C should not be cut until the results of a planned review are known and considered.

The Committee noted that funding for the channel had reduced by more than a third in real terms since 2010, and that the extremely high level of repeats, estimated at 57 per cent, was a major concern.

Members also heard of recent, limited success by ITV Cymru Wales in securing commissions to produce ITV network programmes, but want to see a more proactive attitude.

They concluded that the channel’s approach to commissioning has failed to capture the richness of Welsh communities and there are considerable aspects of Welsh life that are not portrayed either on ITV network or on ITV Cymru Wales.

“Our report is a snapshot of the broadcasting industry as it stands in Wales and will form the basis for more detailed inquiries in the future,” said Bethan Jenkins AM, Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communication Committee.

“What is apparent though is that Wales is losing out on BBC funding for English language, Wales-focused programming. We were pleased to hear from the BBC Director-General Tony Hall that more money would be provided, and we look forward to his forthcoming announcement on this issue.

“We also believe that flagship stations such as Radio 1 and Radio 2 should carry Wales-specific opt-outs for their news programmes to better reflect Welsh life, again, something the Committee is pleased to hear is being seriously considered.

“The high level of repeats on S4C is concerning and is a direct result of large-scale funding cuts, which is why we would like to see a freeze on any further reductions until the results of a planned review. We will soon be conducting our own inquiry into the future of S4C, which we will feed into the UK Government’s review.

“ITV Cymru Wales have had some recent success in being awarded ITV network commissions. We would like to see this continue with a more proactive approach to showcase our Welsh communities throughout the UK.”

The Committee makes 11 recommendations in its report, which will now be sent to the Welsh Government to consider.

Read the report

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