An Assembly Member has today said that the devolution of broadcasting is a “vital” development if Wales’s voice is to be heard in the “turbulent times” caused by Brexit.
Speaking ahead of a debate on the devolution of broadcasting on Wednesday, Sian Gwenllian AM said there was a lack of plurality in the Welsh media and a slow decline in output.
This was “stifling debate” and holding back political education in Wales with so many people consuming their news from outlets from across the border, she said.
Welsh Assembly members will on Wednesday vote on the matter of devolving broadcasting powers to Wales.
Sian Gwenllian said that broadcasting is “important to the sustainability of viable democracy in Wales”.
“With broadcasting reserved to Westminster, democratic debate in Wales is being stifled while political education is hampered,” the Plaid Cymru AM said.
“A third of those polled last year still believed that the UK Government ran the Welsh NHS.
“Wales faces turbulent times with the decision to leave the European Union posing a real threat to our nationhood.
“We must find our own distinct voice and make sure that it is heard in all decisive debates and decisions.
“This will not be achieved unless we create the conditions that will foster a ‘made in Wales, for Wales’ news culture offering the plurality which is so seriously lacking at the moment.
“At present, the majority of people consume their news from outlets from across the border with a London-centric focus and an abject lack of understanding of devolution.
“Plaid Cymru hopes that we can secure the support of the majority of parties in the Assembly in favour of taking the first steps towards putting the future of Welsh broadcasting in our hands.”
The debate comes as a young farmer from Trawsfynydd ends his week-long hunger strike as part of a campaign for Wales to have powers over broadcasting.
“I believe strongly in democracy, and so I’m very concerned about something important that is lacking in Welsh politics,” he said.
“We as a country can’t move towards our goals without voices that are critical of our Government, but that also explain to us how the system works, noting what is devolved – such as agriculture, health, education – and the things that are not, such as the legal system.
“We don’t see the Welsh perspective in our news and on our television stations. Change is needed, the system needs to develop, by having a voice for Wales, that comes from Wales, so we can strengthen our democracy.”
Sian Gwenllian said that the recent significant decline in some media outlets’ broadcasting hours coupled with significant cuts to S4C are a cause for concern.
“There is also a lack of support for Welsh-language media which we want to see given far more scope to develop in terms of content production, publication and distribution,” she said.
“All we ask for is a decision to investigate the practicalities of devolving broadcasting to Wales as part of the drive to inform and educate the electorate about politics and life in our country.”