Monthly Archives: January 2016

Towards Better Broadcasting in Wales

Public service broadcasting in Wales is on a knife-edge and there are loud demands for reform. The response will cast light on whether Wales is genuinely seen as a full partner within the UK.

bbc trsut

Small but perfectly formed. Is that a fair description of Wales? Small Wales certainly is, with a population of 3.1 million compared to the 53.9 million of its neighbour, England. This part of the British Isles claims distinctiveness as a nation while remaining attached to the union. Democratic devolution was endorsed initially by the slimmest of margins but the people of Wales went on to vote 2 to 1 for full legislative powers as the devolutionary process established itself. That process continues. It is the context for any valid consideration of broadcasting in Wales.  Here, in broadcasting terms, there is a nation to be served with all that implies about complexity and breadth.

But broadcasting in Wales is challenged by two particular weaknesses: market failure and inadequate influence over its media policy. Together these create in Wales an unhealthy paradox: while the public clearly supports increased self-determination as a nation within the UK, the media − whose function is to enable national self-understanding − are increasingly disabled.

This can only result in a stunted Wales, struggling to assess its own potential or needs and, ultimately, unable to benefit properly from devolution or to contribute distinctively to the UK ‘project’. A withered branch tends to get lopped off. For Wales, in the debate around Public Service Broadcasting, the stakes are very high indeed. Continue reading Towards Better Broadcasting in Wales

BBC governance must catch up with devolution

Since Rona Fairhead, Chair of the BBC Trust, a year ago, effectively killed off the body that she chairs by calling for it to be abolished, many have been wondering how the BBC should be governed and held accountable in future. After all, the corporation has suffered more than its share of troubles in recent years. But in re-shaping the governance of the BBC there is a lot at stake, too, for us in Wales.

For that reason the IWA’s Media Policy Group has made a submission to the review of BBC governance being carried out by Sir David Clementi, a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, for the UK Government. If the BBC Trust generally is not fit for purpose, then neither are the current arrangements for accountability in Wales. Continue reading BBC governance must catch up with devolution