Plaid Cymru Assembly Member and Chair of the Assembly’s Culture Welsh Language and Communications Committee, Bethan Jenkins, has demanded equality for Wales from the BBC following the Corporation’s decision to award a large increase in funding for BBC Scotland, including the creation of a new Scottish based TV channel.
The funding announcement for Scotland comes a day after the BBC announced extra money for BBC Wales, but far less than the recommended £30 million per year. Bethan Jenkins AM said:
“Today’s announcement once again goes to show that the BBC treats Wales very differently. Although extra money was announced yesterday for BBC Wales, it was significantly less than what was recommended by our committee, by Welsh Government, and the Institute for Welsh Affairs.
“There is clearly money in the BBC central pot to spend, as we can see from this announcement today in Scotland, so why didn’t Wales get more, when we have been calling for it, and when there is a clear need for it?
“Wales has a democratic deficit when it comes to news and current affairs. We are crying out to be represented and we need our public service broadcaster to step up, particularly in light of the decimation over recent years of local print media.
“While it is only right that Scotland should have funding to set up a new channel, focused on Scotland, including an hour long news programme, it cannot be right that BBC Wales has been given just £8.5 million extra a year – a far cry from the £30 million extra that was recommended. There is no explanation as to why BBC Wales will still not be on a level playing field with elsewhere in the UK and will still be playing catch up in terms of news and current affairs.
“The announcement today shows that the Welsh Government clearly needs to lobby harder. There is much more to do in relation to the committee raising these issues with the BBC centrally, especially when Lord Hall returns before us in March this year.
“Plaid Cymru will continue to ask questions regarding these very different and seemingly unfair funding decisions. Decisions on funding for the BBC should be based on equality, with key players from all devolved institutions sitting around a table together to discuss it, as opposed to pitting one Nation against another."