A new, expert independent body to advise on the future of media and broadcasting in Wales is to be set up, Alun Davies will announce today.
Speaking to the National Assembly the Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language will set out the Welsh Government’s response to the recent White Paper on the future of the BBC.
He will highlight the need for a well funded and properly mandated BBC which reflects the whole of the UK as an essential part of Welsh public life and call for further details about the BBC commitments to improve funding and enhance services for Wales. The Minister will also say that S4C’s funding and independence must be safeguarded.
Alun Davies will say:
“This is undoubtedly a crucial period for broadcasting in Wales. In the coming weeks and months there are key decisions to be taken relating to broadcasting and regulatory arrangements.
“We will establish a new independent media forum for Wales. This was one of the recommendations of the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee in its report on the BBC Charter Review. The Welsh Government has been and will continue to be fully involved in the Charter Review process. I intend to meet with the Secretary of State for Culture before the summer recess to discuss broadcasting issues and am are pleased that the he has taken on board a number of the issues we have raised previously.
“It is encouraging that the BBC intends to protect spending in the nations relative to other areas and is now committing to allocate additional funding for its dedicated services in the nations. However, clarity is urgently needed about what this actually means in financial terms and what impact this will have on the breadth of services the BBC provides for Wales. The Welsh Government has previously called for the BBC to invest significant, additional funding into Welsh programming.
“We welcome Tony Hall’s recognition that the portrayal of Wales and the other devolved nations must improve. We also support the intention to have a drama commissioning editor responsible for each nation. It is vital that this individual will be based in Wales and commissioning decisions for Wales are actually made in Wales. More should be done to ensure fairer distribution of production activity away from London and into the nations and regions.
“The BBC remains the most significant provider of both non-network television news and current affairs programming in Wales and has been the main driver of improvements in coverage of devolved political issues in Wales. However, Wales continues to be under-represented, even when stories are relevant across the UK.
“We welcome the fact that Wales will be represented on the BBC’s new unitary board – we pressed hard for this.”
On the future of S4C he will say:
“It is vital that S4C has sufficient funding, as well as having editorial and managerial independence. We welcome the UK Government’s intention to carry out a comprehensive review of S4C, which we have continually pushed for. However, this should take place in parallel with the BBC Charter Review rather than after it. We expect to be fully involved in the review, including the development of the terms of reference.”