Government responds to broadcasting in Wales report
January 23, 2024
By Colin Mann
In its report published in October 2023, the UK House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee called for the Six Nations rugby tournament to be included in Group A of the Listed Events Regime. The UK Government has explained that listing an event in Group A or B does not guarantee that it will be available free-to-air, and rejects the Committee’s calls to undertake a review of the lists. It also sets out that under the Media Bill, Welsh language PSBB S4C will meet criteria for the first time to have greater ability to purchase the rights to show live coverage of listed events.
From working with the Welsh Government and Ofcom to support community radio stations catering for Welsh language speakers, to funding production hubs across the UK, the Committee welcomes the UK Government’s overall support for Welsh broadcasting. This is likely to be further cemented in the Media Bill, currently passing through Parliament, and the Committee will continue to monitor its progress.
The Committee welcomes the UK Government’s commitment to ensure its review of the licence fee will fully take into account Welsh language broadcasting. As made clear in its report, Welsh language content has a major role reflecting and shaping modern Welsh identity. The Committee is reassured that the Government recognises the difficulties for public service broadcasters to negotiate with large global players to ensure their content is given appropriate prominence. Therefore, the Committee welcomes Government moves to introduce a new online prominence framework to ensure public service broadcasting content is given protected prominence across major television platforms. A letter from the Welsh Government in response to the Committee’s report has also been published. Within the letter, Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Dawn Bowden AS/MS pays tribute to the success of the Welsh screen sector, reflecting on BBC Cymru’s view that 2023 was the ‘year of Welsh drama’.
“Welsh broadcasting is a major success, and can attract international partners to invest and produce high quality programming that can be enjoyed by international audience,” asserted Stephen Crabb MP, Welsh Affairs Committee Chair. “But as our Committee made clear in October, broadcasting in Wales can be even better, including the protection and provision of more Welsh language content and securing major sporting events free-to-air.”
“While it is of course disappointing that the UK Government does not feel it necessary to amend the listed events to include the Six Nations, the general support it is offering to the Welsh broadcasting sector is warmly welcomed. Its response, published today, outlines a number of initiatives and policies that continue to support broadcasting in Wales, some of which are underpinned by the Media Bill. Our Committee will continue to monitor the passage of the Media Bill through Parliament,” he confirmed.