UK Government plans for the BBC announced today will help make sure Welsh audiences are served better by the public broadcaster.
Under the plans confirmed by the UK’s Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, the BBC will:
have a member representing Wales on the new unitary BBC Board, the body that will oversee the BBC - this will give Wales a voice right at the heart of BBC decision making;
give the new external regulator Ofcom the power to scrutinise the BBC’s performance in delivering for Wales;
mean there will be clear obligations and measures that the BBC is required to meet and report against in serving their audiences in Wales;
maintain the commitment for Welsh broadcasting services - the UK Government expects the BBC to continue its partnership with S4C to deliver TV services in Wales; and
make sure BBC programme making continues to be made outside of London including in Wales, which will help encourage a healthy independent production sector across the UK.
In addition, the Welsh Government will get additional powers to hold the BBC to account, which will be enshrined in law:
The Welsh Government will have a formal and consultative role in any Charter Review including providing them with copies of the draft Charter to lay before the National Assembly for Wales.
The BBC will lay their annual reports and accounts before the National Assembly for Wales.
The BBC will be required to submit reports to, and appear before, Committees within the Welsh Assembly on the same basis as the UK Parliament.
The UK Government has also committed to a comprehensive review into S4C, which will be carried out in 2017, and will look at a range of issues including remit, accountability, governance and funding arrangements.
UK Culture Secretary John Whittingdale MP said:
The BBC is our national broadcaster, acting in the interests of the whole of the UK. But it must also reflect the democratic makeup of the UK.
These reforms help make sure the BBC creates the highest quality, distinctive content for all audiences, including those in Wales.
Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales said:
TV audiences, radio listeners and web browsers will continue to get access to distinctive content aimed at Welsh viewers, both in English and Welsh.
The White Paper safeguards choice and ensures that Wales has a top table place on the BBC board running the corporation.
The fact that independent programme makers can now bid to make more BBC shows is a fantastic boost for Wales, which is already home to some of the UK’s most exciting and innovative production companies making world-beaters like Hinterland.
As was highlighted in Sunday’s Bafta Television awards, the BBC’s broadcast output, both independently produced and in-house production have for many years delivered some of the UK’s most popular and iconic shows.
We look forward to be competing directly on creative ambitions and equal commercial terms with BBC Studios for future commissions to serve audiences with the very best content.
We appreciate Alun Cairns’ continued efforts in supporting the Welsh television production sector and his part in enabling the opportunity for continued growth through competing for BBC commissioned productions.
Iestyn Garlick, Chair of Teledwyr Annibynnol Cymru, which represents independent TV production companies in Wales, said:
TAC welcomes those measures which give to independent producers the opportunity to bid to make more BBC programmes. The Welsh indie sector has a strong track record and we are confident of being able to win more commissions and therefore enable the BBC to better reflect the stories, perspectives and people of Wales to the rest of the UK and beyond.
We also welcome requirements for BBC Studios to operate on a level playing field, in order that our producers can compete in a fair market. We are pleased that Alun Cairns and Guto Bebb have stood up for the creative sector in Wales and worked with DCMS to construct these proposals.
The Government has set out a new framework for the BBC that:
allows it to focus on high quality, distinctive content which informs, educates and entertain while also serving all audiences;
enhances its independence whilst also making it much more effective and accountable in its governance and regulation;
makes support for the UK’s creative industries central to the BBC’s operations – while at the same time minimising any undue negative market impacts;
increases the BBC’s efficiency and transparency; and
supports the BBC with a modern, sustainable and fairer system of funding.
Further information including the Government’s wider plans for the BBC can be found online at www.gov.uk/bbccharterreview
*Rondo Media is a television production company with offices in Cardiff, Caernarfon and Porthaethwy employing 66 full time staff. It produces hundreds of hours of programmes annually for broadcasters including S4C, BBC Wales, BBC Network and Channel 4. Television industry magazine Broadcast’s most recent survey named Rondo Media as the fifth largest independent television production company outside London.