“Wales is not getting a fair deal from broadcasters”

Published 25/03/2024   |   Last Updated 25/03/2024   |   Reading Time minutes

The Senedd’s Culture Committee is today launching a report, calling for the BBC’s spend on television content in Wales to grow year-on-year until it reaches parity with how much the corporation spends in Scotland.

Delyth Jewell MS, chair of the Senedd’s Culture Committee said:

“It is clear that Wales is not getting a fair deal from our broadcasters. BBC, ITV and S4C are required to serve Welsh viewers and licence feepayers in different ways, but it is obvious that they are not fully achieving what is expected at the moment.

“It cannot be right that the BBC is spending double the amount on English-language content in Scotland than it is in Wales – Welsh licence feepayers deserve better - we’re calling for a year-on-year increase in spending until we have parity with Scotland.

“Broadcasting plays an important role in Wales - portraying and shaping Welsh identity. It also plays a key role in our democracy, ensuring that governments and decision-makers are held to account. As the modern media landscape changes, it is essential that we get this right for the future.

“Today we’re calling on broadcasters, governments and regulators to accept our recommendations and make sure that people in Wales are properly served by the broadcasters they contribute to and rely on.”

ITV programmes

The report is also calling for Ofcom to require ITV to produce a greater proportion of its content in Wales - ITV has a requirement to make 35% of its programmes outside of the M25.

However, Ofcom data shows that in 2022 ITV’s UK network spend in Wales plummeted to close to 0% of their UK spend. In recent years, the figure was around 5%.

S4C’s funding

Today’s report outlines how S4C needs more money and a funding formula that provides assurance to help it better plan ahead. The funding arrangement for the broadcaster has changed three times in the past 15 years.

Since 2010, the UK Government has reduced S4C’s funding in real terms by over 30%. This funding settlement severely limits the broadcaster at a time when it needs to expand to provide services across broadcast and on-demand platforms.

Increased support for S4C is not only for it to meet its obligations as a public service broadcaster, but also to ensure it can continue to play a vital role in supporting the Cymraeg 2050 target.

S4C spend across Wales

The Committee is also calling for S4C to ensure a more even distribution of spending across Wales. Currently the majority of spend is in the south.

S4C acknowledges it needs to do more and the Committee will be monitoring the situation.

Role of the Senedd and Welsh Government

Although broadcasting is currently a matter for the UK Government, the Committee’s inquiry also looked at the role of the Senedd and the Welsh Government in broadcasting in Wales.

Today’s report agrees with the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales that “the Welsh and UK Governments should agree mechanisms for a stronger voice for Wales on broadcasting policy, scrutiny and accountability”.

The Committee is calling for the Senedd to have the opportunity to hold pre-appointment hearings with preferred candidates for Wales members of Ofcom and BBC boards and the S4C Chair, and for the UK Government appointment of the S4C Chair to require the agreement of the Welsh Government.


More on this Story

State of play:Public Service Broadcasting in Wales. Read the report

Inquiry: Public service broadcasting in Wales