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Plan to insist Welsh broadcasters produce ‘British’ shows slammed as ‘undemocratic and dangerous’

16 Sep 2021 3 minutes Read
The new BBC Wales Headquarters building based at 3 Central Square in Cardiff.

Plans by the UK Government to make it a legal requirement that public service broadcasters – which include S4C and BBC Wales – produce “distinctly British” programmes, have been described as undemocratic and dangerous by Wales’ National Communications Council.

The National Communications Council, which is made up of figures from within Wales’ broadcast industry, said that coverage of the pandemic proved that ‘British’ is more often than not defined by the mainstream media in terms of ‘English’.

A spokesperson on behalf of the Council said: “Here again we see a reason to urgently devolve broadcasting and communications powers to Wales. We call on our Labour Government to take decisive steps in this direction as a matter of urgency.”

The National Communication Council said they were currently working on fit-for-purpose communications and broadcasting regulations for Wales, which would pave the way for devolving broadcast powers.

Their response came after former Media minister John Whittingdale told a Royal Television Society conference last night that the government was planning to “talk to Ofcom about how to make the obligation of Britishness work”.

He said that “film, television and radio are by far the most powerful tools we have to project the best of modern Britain to the rest of the world”.

“If it’s set in Britain and made in Britain by our public service broadcasters, then it should be distinctively British,” he added.

Broadcast in the UK is state-regulated by Ofcom, which has the legal powers to fine a channel or withdraw its license to broadcast if it breaks Ofcom’s government-approved broadcasting code.

‘Brand’

“Keeping the British spirit and identity alive is a challenge in today’s global broadcasting world, when investment is increasingly driven by global streaming services,” John Whittingdale said.

“Our public service broadcasters now get more money for drama from foreign investors than they spend themselves. That investment is extremely welcome – in fact, it’s absolutely crucial to their survival.

“But we want to make sure it doesn’t water down British creativity or the British brand.”

The speech was due to be given by Oliver Dowden before he was replaced as Culture Secretary by Nadine Dorries in yesterday’s reshuffle. John Whittingdale himself was replaced shortly after giving it.

In his speech before getting the axe, he referred to the Carry On films, Blackadder Goes Forth, Fleabag and Gogglebox as examples of British programmes.

It comes as campaigners have called for the devolution of powers over broadcasting to Wales.

Campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith say securing broadcasting powers for Wales is essential to sustain the country’s young devolution settlement.

According to a YouGov opinion poll, 65% of people in Wales favour devolving powers over broadcasting to the Senedd in Cardiff.

 

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Grayham Jones
1 month ago

No English news or newspapers in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh kick all English party’s out of wales that’s the Tories Labour and all Brexit party’s it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 A Free Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

“a legal requirement”? I’ve been of the opinion that saying the Tories have become quasi fascist was a bit over the top. Now I am forced to think again.

Last edited 1 month ago by j humphrys
Roger Mansel
Roger Mansel
1 month ago

So! Welsh is not British? Is that what the Tories are saying?

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
1 month ago
Reply to  Roger Mansel

They want us all to be English

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

So fight Welsh nationalism with British nationalism. Isn’t that like fighting fire with fire?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Welsh Nationalism is the water to quench any English fire.

John Davies
John Davies
1 month ago

So officially-approved government propaganda is now to become legally compulsory. Or is it? I can think of plenty of “distinctively British” themes which Boris Johnson might not approve of. For instance, to take an obvious example, how about a docudrama on Owain Glyndwr? Gideon Brough’s biography makes it plain his rising was a far more substantial affair than is generally realised and lasted for much longer. It exposed the fragility of Anglo-Norman power in Wales. It only failed because a brilliant English diplomatic offensive at the French court cut off the supply of French support. As Glyndwr himself acknowledged, Wales… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Are they for real? The amount of Welsh or Wales-based programming within Wales itself is tiny in comparison to shows & series made in and about England. If this wasn’t so serious I’d laugh. Why aren’t those rabid Unionists at Whitehall demanding the same of English national & regional broadcasters to show more Welsh, Scottish & NI programming? The Tories are indeed playing dangerous games. It’ll come back to bite them. The Tories ignore this fact. That the majority of TV shown on our screens in Wales, are not Welsh or even British, but English. And now they want to… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Cymro
Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

So they think that making more ‘British’ (whatever that actually is??) programmes will make us all more union orientated? Sad people. All this to try and save the UK – it’s too controlling and too late. Incidentally, if they want to make channels more British – how about BBC1 England showing some programmes in Welsh??

Shan Morgain
1 month ago

“distinctly British”? Well if Wales is part of “Britain” which this NCC would agree, then anything Welsh is “distinctly British”. As is anything Scots, London, Anglia, Northern, Brum or any other part of this potmess Britain. You can’t have it both ways. Either we are part of Britain so what we do, what we create, is British (“distinctly British”). Or else we are not part of Britain. But Tories run on ideology not logic and evidence.

John Williams
John Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

And if it becomes a legal requirement as suggested, at the end of the day it will be the courts who decide not the UK Gov, so all this could come back to bite them

Erisian
Erisian
1 month ago

Every slight, every snub, every slur, and each attempt to wrest power from Wales to the ‘Hegemony of St George’ is a rally call for Welsh independence. Keep ’em comming.

Elvey MacDonald
Elvey MacDonald
1 month ago

All S4C programs are British (made in Britain, with British scriptwriters, cameramen/women, actors, directors, etc).

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