Yearly Archives: 2015

Scampi and the Meaning of Life – TV and Culture in Wales

I don’t know if anyone ever addresses Lord Hall of Birkenhead, Director General of the BBC, as ‘butt’. I suppose I’m unlikely to find out as he probably has more pressing questions to answer in these days of Charter Renewal debate. Nonetheless the question came to me as I reflected on a blog I wrote yesterday attempting to unpack what Tony Hall meant when he used the word ‘culture’ in a speech in Cardiff in 2014.

there are some aspects of national life in Wales that are not sufficiently captured by the BBC’s own television services in Wales, and I would include comedy, entertainment and culture in those categories

Tony Hall

I don’t want to treat that speech as some gospel to be mined for esoteric meanings and yet light did dawn, and the clue was an in example of one of the genres whose erosion he lamented in that text. He named comedy, entertainment and culture as genres whose production has been eroded, in the last decade, on English language television in Wales. I found myself thinking about a comedy series which, in my view, is one of the best BBC Wales has ever made. Continue reading Scampi and the Meaning of Life – TV and Culture in Wales

Hungry Wales in an Age of TV Plenty

If a thing is repeated often enough it begins to be as persuasive as though it were true.

We’ve never had it so good, apparently. We live in a televisual Age of Plenty with digital wares piled high in the marketplace and so it’s time for the BBC to withdraw from universality and to stop disadvantaging the commercial sector by its scale and success; the level of public funding gives the BBC an unfair advantage over its competitors and the BBC should become more ‘distinctive’, confining itself to things the market can’t or won’t provide.


Continue reading Hungry Wales in an Age of TV Plenty

Regulating the Regulators – the Press Recognition Panel and Wales

We all remember Leveson. And we still hear late rumblings from that consideration of corruption in the UK press as well as continuing debate as to how best to deal with it. A need for regulation was generally acknowledged but what system should be used? The compromise reached was the creation of self-regulators overseen by a Recognition Panel established by Royal Charter and the Panel came to Cardiff on 14th July.


The Press Recognition Panel  held a consultative session in the School of Journalism, Cardiff on the criteria to be used when assessing applicants for recognition. This consultation process ends on 31st July. Continue reading Regulating the Regulators – the Press Recognition Panel and Wales

TV for Wales – in both languages

It’s not just S4C that is threatened by potential changes. It is television for Wales as a whole, if the latest BBC Wales Annual Review 2014-15 by Audience Council Wales is anything to go by.


This Review, for 2014 – 15, makes alarming reading, particularly as it comes hot on the heels of Ofcom’s recent special additional report on  PSB in the internet age: The Nations of the UK and their regions and the bombshell about funding burdens for the BBC lobbed by the Chancellor while no one was looking. It appears the day before the Green Paper on BBC Charter Renewal is expected but it shouldn’t get lost in the sturm und drang that that is likely to produce because it has significant things to say about television in Wales. Continue reading TV for Wales – in both languages

BBC licence fee raid ̶̶ The consequences for Wales


This blog appeared on 10th July 2015 on the IWA’s clickonwales blog site.

For the second time in five years Government Ministers have backed the BBC into a corner, issued a ‘money or your life’ threat, walked away with a big chunk of the licence fee and left a Director General making as good a public fist of defending ‘the deal’ as he can. Has this been a fair trade between a willing buyer and a willing seller? Continue reading BBC licence fee raid ̶̶ The consequences for Wales

My Headers – Journalism, Opportunism and Commissioning, 1486

My Headers – Journalism, Opportunism and the Commissioning process, 1486


© National Gallery

One of the most audacious acts of shameless, straight-faced opportunism ever to have been imagined in the world of communications.

I’ve chosen a Crivelli painting from 1486 as the image source of my headers because it is such a cheeky picture and always amuses me. Continue reading My Headers – Journalism, Opportunism and Commissioning, 1486

Defence against Terrorism


bbc radio wales logo

Podcast: All Things Considered: How To Defend Against Terrorism

BBC Radio Wales 5th July & 9th July; iplayer till 3rd August

With the tenth anniversary of the London bombings being marked this week, the man who ran the Metropolitan police at the time made a stark admission.  Lord Blair said he did not believe the west would be able to defeat such extremism in his lifetime.

Meanwhile the defence secretary seeks parliamentary authority to extend to bombing of ISIS targets to Syria, the prime minister speaks of ‘the struggle of our generation’ and the families of 30 British tourists mourn after the massacre on a beach in Tunisia.

What’s at the root of these atrocities?  To what extent is this a religious crisis?  And what can be done to prevent such things happening again? Continue reading Defence against Terrorism

Faith and Violence – the journalist’s role

On New Year’s Day this year the Western Mail published an article by the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, Saleem Kidwai. He claimed that a precious achievement in Welsh cultural life is in jeopardy and that a generation have felt ‘rejected by their fellow Welshmen’.

 Welsh-Muslim youth who thought themselves like any other Welsh person got a rude awakening post-9/11 — a sort of cultural shock that they were not like any other Welsh person. Overnight, they were the other, the enemy…

As Mr Kidwai set out the traumatic ramifications of this tragic dissociation I felt the force of his appeal that, “As a society…  We have to reject any attempts to marginalize Muslims as second-class citizens” but I was perplexed as to how to go about that.

Until I perceived a potential response from the world of journalism itself – from journalism in Wales.

silent rally
Silent rally in Cardiff in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings

Continue reading Faith and Violence – the journalist’s role

Passion and Policy – Documentary in Wales


Doc Heads

On Friday 29th May Documentary Wales/ Dogfen Cymru is holding a symposium in Cardiff:

to discuss the future of documentary film in Wales. Drawing together a range of talent from Wales and beyond, the day will be an opportunity to meet a diverse collection of individuals who share your passion for documentary.  The focus of the day will be on:

  •  Strengthening the community of documentary film makers currently working in Wales
  • Exploring ways of building the audience for documentary film in Wales
  • Discussing future plans for supporting documentary film within the Welsh production sector

Without good policy no social endeavour flourishes as it might. Structures start from policy. Policies are not made by machines but by people and people have beliefs and values and prejudices, all of which can be discussed, debated and shaped into principles on which actions are based. Those actions influence both what is possible in the social sphere and what becomes impossible.

To make Wales a place in which documentary flourishes we need policies which build sound platforms for documentary. That means taking an interest in policy for broadcasting, digital media and cinema – at least. Continue reading Passion and Policy – Documentary in Wales