Broadcasting can’t be devolved because it ‘creates shared UK culture’ says minister

Dafydd Elis-Thomas. Picture by the National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

Wales’ culture minister has been criticised by campaigners after saying that broadcasting can’t be devolved to Wales because it has an important role in creating a “shared culture” for people across the UK.

In a letter to Cymdeithas yr Iaith, the Welsh language society, Dafydd Elis-Thomas said that there could be “significant financial risks” to devolving broadcasting to Wales.

He also noted that broadcasting “plays an essential role in creating a shared cultural citizenship for people across the United Kingdom”.

Ffred Ffransis of the Welsh language society said that his comments amounted to an admission that the aim was to “turn us all into Brits”.

“It’s incredible that he wants Westminster to control Wales’ broadcasting, rather than himself, because he shares their ideal of creating a shared cultural citizenship for people across the UK’,” he said.

“What’s next – support for a GB football team?”

In the latter, Dafydd Elis-Thomas goes on to say that he does not believe that the BBC should only be answerable to Westminster.

“We want to ensure that the UK’s broadcasters are answerable to the National Assembly and the listeners and viewers of Wales,” he said.

Report

At the end of February, Assembly Members backed a motion saying that “broadcasters should be fully accountable to all national parliaments of the United Kingdom”.

The Welsh Language Society subsequently called for an inquiry into the feasibility of devolving broadcasting powers to Wales.

At the beginning of the month, Chair Heledd Gwyndaf wrote to the Chair of the Culture Committee asking for them to look at the issue.

“Asking for full accountability to our Senedd is something that needs defining and working out in detail,” she said.

“It appears the Welsh Government is not willing to do that research in terms of how and to what extent broadcasting powers should be devolved.

“So, we are asking your committee to produce a report outlining the various options, and how that new full accountability works.

“As you know, this is a matter that’s absolutely central to Welsh democracy’s sustainability as well as the growth of the Welsh language.”

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