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Plaid Cymru calls for devolution of broadcasting to safeguard the future of Welsh media

16 Jan 2022 3 minutes Read
Heledd Fychan. Picture by Plaid Cymru

A Plaid MS has called for the immediate devolution of broadcasting and warned that hostility towards the BBC from the UK Government will endanger the future of Welsh media.

Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Culture, Heledd Fychan MS, has hit out following reports of an imminent announcement that the BBC licence fee is set to be frozen for the next two years.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorris is expected to announce a two-year freeze to the BBC license fee this week, which is likely to mean that Welsh language television channel S4C will also face real-terms cuts.

S4C’s public funding will be provided entirely through the licence fee from the 2022-23 financial year onwards, with all future funding decisions made as part of the BBC licence fee funding settlement.

In its last financial year, 2020-21, S4C received £74.5m from the BBC licence fee and £21.85m from the UK Government.

Further reports suggest that this may be the last announcement of its kind relating to the BBC licence fee and that the existing funding model could be scrapped altogether after 2027.

Heledd Fychan MS accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of attempting to appease certain factions in his party after a calamitous week for the Conservatives.

Devolution

Heledd Fychan MS said: “Reports of a two-year freeze to the BBC licence fee will give rise to great uncertainty for the future of Welsh media, particularly our national channel S4C which will be funded entirely from the licence fee.

“The UK Government is showing increasing hostility towards the BBC whilst at the same time, local news output is waning. This puts Wales at the sharp end of the media deficit which is damaging our democracy.

“That is why Plaid Cymru is calling for the immediate devolution of broadcasting so that the future of S4C and BBC Wales are no longer in the hands of a Tory government which is out of touch and out of its depth when it comes to protecting distinct Welsh media provision.

“With further talk of the licence fee being scrapped altogether after 2027, I urge the Welsh Government to act now to ensure that our national media isn’t trapped in a race to the bottom where profit trumps quality provision.”

If there is no increase in the license fee, S4C’s share of that money is also unlikely to rise, leaving it facing possible cutbacks if inflation rises 5% as the Bank of England expects. If the license fee did rise in line with inflation it would be £175 in two years’ time.

Liz Saville Roberts MP said in a tweet that the move was authoritarian attempt “to close down scrutiny of government” which amounted to “cultural vandalism.”

The license fee agreement was due to be announced in the summer before Nadine Dorris took the culture brief in a reshuffle and decided to revisit it. The decision due to be announced by the end of the month will come into effect from 1 April.


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Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
4 months ago

Good idea, but if the Westminster Government is to stop funding the BBC then an extra funding stream not from that source will be needed. Clearly, the de Piffle Regime’s further proposal to weaken the BBC and stop it being a ‘National’ institution is likely to be due to further pressure from the Murdoch family who have being trying to destroy it for years. With PartyGate showing up the Regime the attack on the BBC is orobably the ‘price’ being extracted for continuing support for the government in the Murdoch Media.

I.Humphyrs
I.Humphyrs
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Interesting, that that guy from the Sun was at the Party?
We can have our own media, partly from taxes and additionally from a limited amount of advertising. But we might also see a future BBC devolved further. I can see the English people not liking the thought of endless adds, missing culture, music, natural world??

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
4 months ago
Reply to  I.Humphyrs

Correction on my name.

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago

A media deficit will kill democracy in world where many now look to social media to inform themselves. This echo chamber bubble type of communication only serves to link like minded people who have their own views and beliefs constantly reinforced. I find myself talking to people who still firmly believe that the first minister was partying in Bristol on New year’s Eve. They know the person who posted the comment and were bemused when I told them it was fake news. Perhaps we are seeing the master plan of the ruling elite playing out here. Withdraw meaningful and thought… Read more »

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Boris didn’t look very masterful last week? But we take your point. When we look at the Net it’s full of all sorts that used to be laughed out of the pub in the old days!

Last edited 4 months ago by I.Humphrys
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

Mr Drakeford better park his tanks in Central Square before Dorris borrows Truss’ panzer .

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
4 months ago

Wales needs a lot more than devolution of broadcasting. Police and justice are of cultural and political importance but Crown Estates Scotland is auctioning off rights to build marine wind farms for up to £860M. Wales loses that income source to Westminster so needs to be on the list of demands.

As for Mad Nad, minister for digital she claimed that Sunak couldn’t tweet support for Boris because he was in Devon “and there is no wi-fi in Devon.”

Reginald Bowler
Reginald Bowler
4 months ago

The thing is that the wretched bbc gets all the licence fee, which we have to pay. No other broadcaster gets any, yet we have to pay the bbc to watch someone else. That’s a wrong. I don’t, for instance, have to pay Tesco to shop at Morrisons. Why should I pay the wretched bbc to watch ITV, or CH4 or whatever? Whatever they propose that supports the current situation (they have suggested a surcharge on council tax, or a levy on internet connections) the fundamental wrong is still there. The licence fee itself has to go, and the bbc… Read more »

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
4 months ago

……..as we were saying above………………

John Brooks
John Brooks
4 months ago

Channel 4 gets some licence fee money.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago

To control broadcasting is the right of every nation. And I find it ludicrous that in the 21st century English media companies still control what’s transmitted into Welsh homes? The BBC, ITV, Ch4 & Sky have the ability to beam if they choose not only Anglocentric programming into our homes, but their version of Wales & Welsh history, and in some cases even whitewash us out entirely. And is it no wonder that some in Wales are hostile to the idea of devolving broadcasting when they lack knowledge or awareness of Welsh history or Wales even though born & bred… Read more »

Dean Thomas
Dean Thomas
4 months ago

This highlights that everything has be transferred from Whitehall if we are to secure a future for our nation. We are now in a time of real crisis, with housing, education, media, energy and transport all under attack from forces beyond our control. Wales is a punchbag for the English Government, and things are only going to get a lot harder in the months and years ahead.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
4 months ago
Reply to  Dean Thomas

We better get down to the intellectual Gym, and fight for our land!

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