Welsh politicians, academics, trade unionists and campaigners call for reversal of cuts to S4C and the BBC and new support for community journalism.
A group of 8 politicians from across Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats, as well as numerous academics, trade unionists and civil society campaigners, are backing a statement drafted by the Media Reform Coalition together with the Welsh Language Society, BECTU and the NUJ. The statement criticises the dominant corporate players in the UK media for failing Welsh communities, and calls for more funding and accountability among public service broadcasters. It goes on to stress the value of local news and community journalism in covering issues so often ignored by the mainstream.
Signatories include Welsh Labour’s Chair of the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee, Christine Chapman AM; Plaid Cymru media spokespeople Bethan Jenkins AM and Simon Thomas AM; and Deputy Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Mark Williams MP.
The statement reads in full:
Diverse and independent media voices are essential to enable proper democratic debate and champion cultural life. Yet the media landscape across the UK is dominated by a handful of large corporations who fail to adequately represent the UK population and, in particular, the communities and cultures that exist in Wales.
Public service broadcasters such as BBC Wales and S4C play a vital role in informing, educating and entertaining, and are especially important in a nation where commercial entities show little interest in providing local media services, not least where Welsh language provisions are concerned.
Despite this, public service broadcasters are seeing budget cuts which result in job losses, casualisation, deskilling and a diminishing capacity to produce high quality content. Such trends damage the creative economy in Wales and reduce the number of quality employment opportunities.
Cuts at BBC Wales and S4C have been enforced after little or no consultation with the Welsh Government, the National Assembly, and the people of Wales, meaning decisions about the future of the media are being made without proper accountability.
With the BBC’s charter renewal and licence fee under discussion, it is clear some private sector rivals would like nothing better than for the UK’s premier public service broadcaster to suffer further cuts. And if their past record is anything to go by, the press will no doubt do their best to sow doubts about the future of Welsh language broadcasting too.
Local newspapers also play a vital role in holding politicians to account and celebrating local life. However, proprietors are increasingly withdrawing journalistic resources from communities that have, in the past, furnished them with millions of pounds worth of profits.
New start-ups in print and online, often led by journalists working within cooperative and mutual models, have demonstrated an enduring appetite for local news. But without adequate support, they will remain precarious ventures.
We therefore call on Welsh and UK politicians to press for: new legislation to prevent damaging media concentration and to encourage a more plural media environment at state, national and local levels; reversal of cuts to S4C and the BBC and commitments to safeguard future funding; devolved powers for broadcasting in terms of governance, regulation and licensing; Local newspapers to be classed as community assets under the Localism Act (2011), ensuring titles earmarked for closure are subject to meaningful consultation that might allow communities to take ownership; and an inquiry into alternative funding models for local news and public service broadcasters that will consider a range of viable options.
- Paul Scott (NUJ, National Executive Council member for Wales)
- David Donovan (BECTU, Welsh National Officer)
- Andy Richards (Unite the Union, Wales Secretary)
- Margaret Thomas (UNISON, Wales Secretary)
- Jamie Bevan (Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, Cadeirydd)
- Dr Dylan Foster Evans (The Welsh Academy, Deputy Chair)
- Heini Gruffudd (Dyfodol i’r Iaith, Chair)
- Ceri Owen (Rhieni dros Addysg Gymraeg, Director of Development)
- Prof. Des Freedman (Media Reform Coalition, Chair)
- Dr. Jonathan Hardy (Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, National Secretary)
- Mick Antoniw AM (Welsh Labour, Chair of Co-operatives & Mutuals Cross Party Group)
- Christine Chapman AM (Welsh Labour, Chair of Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee)
- Mike Hedges AM (Welsh Labour, member of Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee)
- Simon Thomas AM (Plaid Cymru, Spokesperson for Education, Welsh Language and Skills)
- Bethan Jenkins AM (Plaid Cymru, Assembly Spokesperson on Heritage, Welsh Language and Sport, and Chair of the Cross party group on media and broadcasting)
- Alun Ffred Jones AM (Plaid Cymru, former Heritage Minister)
- Mark Williams MP (Deputy Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats)
- William Powell AM (Welsh Liberal Democrats)
- Prof. Justin Lewis (Cardiff University, Head of the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies)
- Prof. Bob Franklin (Cardiff University, Professor of Journalism Studies)
- Prof. Karin Wahl-Jorgensen (Cardiff University, Director of Research Development and Environment)
- Dr. Andy Williams (Cardiff University, lecturer at Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies)
- Dr. Andrew McStay (Bangor University, Director of the Network for the Study of Media and Persuasive Communication)
- Dr. Yan Wu (Swansea University, Programme Director of MA Comparative Journalism)
- Prof. Tom O’Malley (Aberystwyth University, Emeritus Professor of Media Studies)
- Dr. Jamie Medhurst (Aberystwyth University, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication)
- Dr. Greg Bevan (Aberystwyth University, Lecturer in Media Practice, and former chair and current member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Digital Futures group)
- Dr. Rebecca Williams (University of South Wales, lecturer in Communication, Cultural and Media Studies)
- Dr. Ruth McElroy (University of South Wales, Director Creative Industries Research Institute)
- Dr. Caitriona Noonan (University of South Wales, lecturer in Media, Culture and Communication)
Click here for a version of the statement in Welsh.
For comments and enquiries contact
Alistair Cartwright, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07826 541 052[/fusion_text]