BBC to expand its radio services in Wales

 

Radio Wales will expand its availability on the FM band so that its signal reaches more of the nation, according to the BBC.

The BBC also announced that they will set up a second Welsh-language radio channel, Radio Cymru 2, to broadcast from 7am to 10am every morning on digital radio, digital television and BBC iPlayer Radio.

Radio Wales’ FM coverage only reaches 79% of Wales. This will be increased to 91%.

The FM band will reach an additional 330,000 people, with the main benefit in parts of north east and mid Wales.

Radio Wales editor Colin Paterson said that “these are unprecedented times of change for Wales”.

“I’m delighted that this major expansion for Radio Wales on FM will ensure listeners in every part of Wales can enjoy access to our wide-ranging news, sport and entertainment programming, as well as our superb team of presenters,” he said.

More Welsh language radio

The second Welsh-language station, Radio Cymru 2, will launch before the end of the year.

It will feature a mixture of music and entertainment, while Radio Cymru will broadcast the current affairs programme, Post Cyntaf.

Betsan Powys, Radio Cymru editor, said: “This is a truly historic announcement – one of the most important since Radio Cymru was established in 1977.

“Our listeners are some of the most loyal in Wales and the fact that we can now offer a choice of listening is incredibly exciting.”

The expansion comes after the BBC experimented with a second Welsh-language radio channel, Radio Cymru Mwy, last year.

Analysis

by Ifan Morgan Jones

These are welcome developments. The historian John Davies argued that Wales was an “artifact produced by broadcasting,” particularly BBC radio.

BBC Wales’ radio stations have played, and continue to play, an all-important role in shaping Welsh identity, and they continue to be one of the few national news sources that are available to us.

The launch of Radio Cymru 2 will also be particularly welcome. Radio Cymru has long had to be all things to all people, a difficult role at the best of times.

There will be concern however that as the commercial media in Wales continues to weaken, the BBC is being called upon to shoulder more and more responsibility for bringing us news about Wales.

The UK is a very centralised state, politically, and it is as such unavoidable that the UK’s main national broadcaster, the BBC, will also at times be London-centric in its outlook.

But whatever your opinion of the BBC, it cannot be healthy for the Welsh public sphere if we as a nation become too dependent on one corporation for our information.

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