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'Devolve control of TV and radio', says Plaid leader

Category: Wales

Published: 3rd Aug 2010 06:49:16

Control over television and radio in Wales should be devolved, Plaid Cymru's leader says.

Ieuan Wyn Jones argues that the assembly government should have power over the BBC, S4C and commercial stations to ensure the future of broadcasting in Wales.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones has said the issue should be discussed.

In a speech he will give at the National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale, the Plaid leader will say that there are "compelling economic, cultural and democratic reasons" for transferring control over television and radio to Wales in the next assembly government term.

He has pledged that he will put the devolution of broadcasting at the heart of his party's manifesto ahead of next year's assembly election.

Mr Jones, who is also the deputy first minister and minister for economy and transport, said that broadcasting in Wales "is under attack from the UK government", with broadcasters "failing to provide an adequate service for Welsh audiences".

"On BBC Wales, the Welsh-made output has fallen from 824 hours to 696," he said, quoting figures released last month by the media regulator Ofcom.

"More worryingly, news and current affair output has fallen from 500 to 420.

Without swift action, it's possible we will see further erosion in our broadcasting institutions ”

He said that the situation at ITV Wales was "even worse", with programming, excluding news and current affairs, reduced from 169 hours a year in 2005 to 35 hours now.

"This all means one thing. Without swift action, it's possible we will see further erosion in our broadcasting institutions and the whole nation will be poorer for it," he added.

Mr Jones will use his speech to highlight the need to create an appropriate financial settlement for broadcasting services, which would include a reform of the Barnett formula - the system used to allocate money to Wales.

He will also argue that the assembly govenment should be given the powers to set the budget of the Welsh-language broadcaster S4C and establish, in the short-term, a Welsh BBC trust to provide a better service to audiences in Wales.

He says he believes the assembly government should control the distribution of FM radio frequencies in Wales, and ensure that new digital stations such as Radio Wales and Radio Cymru are available throughout the country.

His speech comes a day after the heritage minister said S4C should develop a closer relationship with the assembly government.

Alun Ffred Jones said he was not in favour of "devolving S4C on its own" but added: "I think you have to look at the whole issue of broadcasting and then I think there is a discussion to be had around that."

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BBC News, 2010. 'Devolve control of TV and radio', says Plaid leader [Online] (Updated 3rd Aug 2010)
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