Friday, September 03, 2010

Devolution of Broadcasting!!

Now perhaps they can see why I didn't initially seek membership of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee when I was elected an MP on May 7th. Well actually, it was more that I sought membership of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee instead - because I thought it would be more significant for Wales. Was much criticised for this at the time. I also knew I would not be elected to the Committee of my first choice, and that I'd probably end up on the Welsh Affairs Committee anyway - which is exactly what happened. An explosion of democracy in the House of Commons has meant that all select committee members are now voted in by other MPs, and they tend not to vote for other MPs that they do not know. This system pigeon holes Welsh MPs into Welsh-specific activity.

Anyway, lets look at what is turning out to be specifically important for Wales. It looks as if the future and funding of S4C will be as big an issue for debate as any. And today the Western Mail has gone big on the future of ITV Wales. Martin Shipton has been writing about Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, "signalling his intention to allow ITV Wales to ditch its commitment to regional news". The Welsh Affairs Select Committee is going to look at tolls on the Severn Bridge.

Must admit I would be concerned if the BBC had a monopoly on Welsh regional news, and its a debate I'd like to be involved with. Like Jeremy Hunt, I know its going to be difficult in 2014 to load costly obligations onto ITV Wales, and at the same time expect the channel to be competitive. What I'd like to see is ITV Wales finding a way of making 'news' less costly and more attractive. This seems to be what Archie Norman and Adam Crozier are planning to do. They are men with a good record of achievement and I wish them well.

Personally, I'm becoming more attracted with each passing day to the idea of devolving broadcasting to the National Assembly for Wales. Whenever I hear an Assembly based politician moaning about how the Westminster based Government is 'underfunding' S4C, or not properly restricting the commercial capacity of ITV Wales, I have this urge to say "Do it yourselves then". I suspect that broadcasters in Wales are getting very twitchy that this is what might just happen.


Anonymous said...

It would make a lot of sense, the Bay the only place where most of the welsh media means anything.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - but will they be willing to pay for it? Most of the Welsh media think not. And they think AMs will not be able to avoid seeking editorial control (in an ever so subtle way of course)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if they diverted some of that £400k they spend on Public Relations companies every year into supporting journalism?

Probably unthinkable political suicide these days.