BBC rejects calls for independent review into how it portrays the Welsh language

BBC Newsnight

The BBC has rejected calls for an independent review of how it portrays the Welsh language, eight months after almost 8,000 people signed a petition calling for one.

The BBC rejected the suggestion that it had an “institutional problem” covering the language and said that the review was not needed as it reported “fairly and accurately” on the language.

Digital business consultant Huw Marshall created the petition after the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Newsnight posed the question “is the Welsh language a help or hindrance to the nation?”.

The programme invited author Julian Ruck, who has published a number of articles attacking funding for Welsh, to contribute, but did not include a Welsh speaker to defend the language.

The BBC released a statement saying that it “regretted” the programme the next day, but the Welsh language minister at the time, Alun Davies, had said that the BBC had a “cultural problem” with the language.

However, eight months after the petition was submitted, the BBC’s Director of Nations and Regions, Ken Macquarrie, responded by saying that the corporation “did not think there were material grounds for a review along the lines”.

He said that the BBC had already conceded that there were problems with the Newsnight programme.

He also argued that the BBC “did not consider there was evidence to suggest any ‘institutional’ problem in the way the BBC reflects the Welsh language”.

“On the contrary, the BBC reports fairly and accurately on matters relating to the Welsh language almost every day across television, radio and mobile,” he said.

Huw Marshall said that the BBC couldn’t discover whether there was a problem without an independent review to gather evidence.

“The petition requested an independent review that would collect evidence to see if there was indeed an ‘institutional’ problem,” he said.

“How can the BBC consider evidence if none currently exists?

“The BBC have admitted that they ‘think’ that there are no material grounds for a review, not that they have evidence that shows that a review of the kind requested is not warranted.”

Huw Marshall said that he would now be taking the issue up with the DCMS, Ofcom and the Welsh Government.

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