Throughout the past week the Media Policy Group of the Institute of Welsh Affairs has been publishing its draft analysis of the state of main media sectors in Wales. This approach has allowed us to receive valuable feedback on our chapters on the radio industry and the press that will be incorporated into the final report. This will be launched at the Cardiff Media Summit on November 11th. We have also had the benefit of expert comment pieces carried on the IWA site and look forward to more. It is proving to be a good experience of dialogue around these important issues and of the kind of debate about them that has long been called for in Wales.
The analysis we have laid out is sobering. Since the IWA’s last Media Audit in 2008:
- Spending on English language television by the BBC has been cut by 25%, as has the number of hours produced
- S4C suffered a 24% cut in its central funding and ITV Wales is broadcasting a diminished service of just now 90 minutes a week on top of its news output
- There’s been a narrowing of the range of programmes, with genres such as light entertainment, the arts and drama are minimally represented or, in some years, not at all.
- Local content on commercial radio has been cut as ownership has been consolidated
- Welsh newspapers have seen a collapse in their print distribution – in common with most modern media markets. Although there are encouraging signs of the growth of online journalism, the commercial pressures on journalism raises question marks about the future of inquiring reporting and its ability to scrutinise Government all levels in Wales.
The process of devolution continues as the UK wrestles around how its component parts are to relate to one another but it seems that just when we most need opportunities to scrutinise and discuss these changes the means to do so are weakening.
However the IWA Media Audit is a contribution to finding our feet amid these shifting sands. We are trying to identify not only problems but opportunities. Where can we see possibilities of doing things differently, where necessary, and better? It’s an attempt to face reality so that we can have a solid platform from which to forge media which, as our draft says,
i) are a constant, inquiring two-way conduit of information, connecting government, civil society and citizens
ii) provide a full reflection of that society to itself – its diversity and creativity, its achievements and failures, its languages and arts, its glories and its foibles
iii) enable Wales to represent itself to the rest of the UK
The Cardiff Media Summit will include sessions designed to facilitate contributions to these recommendations so please come ready to take part.
The IWA Media Policy Group has also been submitting responses to various stages of the BBC Charter review and other media enquiries. See our response to the DCMS Public Consultation on the BBC Charter.