Welsh Government should have say in the future of BBC and S4C in Wales, report says
A Senedd report has called for the Welsh Government to have a bigger say when the futures of the BBC and S4C in Wales are discussed.
The Senedd’s Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport and International Relations Committee said that the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport within the UK Government should include a representative from the Welsh Government when discussing the future of public service broadcasting in Wales.
The report says that the rules that govern the media need to change to ensure audiences in Wales “can watch content that reflects and informs their lives”.
Particular regard should be given to the need for intervention to ensure programming in the Welsh language, and content reflecting Wales in both languages, is safeguarded, they said.
“The negotiations on the funding settlement for Wales are an essential step to guarantee PSBs can continue to serve Welsh audiences by covering our shared cultural events and providing trusted news,” the report says.
“The Committee is calling for a seat at the table for a Welsh representative in the negotiations on the next licence fee settlement from 2022-2027. The role of this representative should also be included as standard for the next round of negotiations.”
The report also adds: “The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Public Service Broadcasting Advisory Panel should include representatives from the devolved administrations in their discussions on policy and legislative solutions to the challenges facing PSBs in the digital age.
“Particular regard should be given to the need for intervention to ensure programming in the Welsh language, and content reflecting Wales in both languages, is safeguarded.”
In its last financial year, 2020-21, S4C received £74.5m from the BBC licence fee and £21.85m from the UK Government.
The Senedd’s committee’s report endorsed a call made by the media regulator, Ofcom, for changes to enable the delivery of public service broadcasting to modernise in an increasingly online world.
The Committee’s report, “Response to Small Screen: Big Debate”, calls on the UK Government to develop policy and legislative proposals based on the recommendations of Ofcom in its “Small Screen: Big Debate” report.
The report also recommends that a fair funding settlement for Welsh public service broadcasters is essential to guarantee that nation’s shared cultural events and trusted news service can continue to serve Welsh audiences.
Delyth Jewell MS, the Chair of the Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport and International Relations Committee said that public service broadcasting in Wales was “facing many challenges”.
“The Committee believes that the UK Government and a strong, independent regulator, can play a vital role in ensuring legislation supports broadcasters to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the transformation in viewing habits,” she said.
“Legislative and policy developments must take account of the unique role that public service broadcasters have in commissioning content and reflecting the culture of Wales and the Welsh language.
“The regions and nations of the UK should be integral to the discussions on meeting the challenges posed by the digital era, and particular attention should be paid to the role of S4C in promoting the Welsh language.”
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