Page last updated at 05:45 GMT, Tuesday, 9 June 2009 06:45 UK

25m fund for broadcasting crisis

Television gallery (generic)
The assembly committee held an inquiry over five months

A new independent commission funded by £25m worth of public money is needed to safeguard the future of ITV Wales, an assembly committee says.

It is the main finding by the assembly communities and culture committee, which said cuts on the channel in recent years were "deeply troubling".

It has called for an independent commission to fund programmes and provide an alternative to the BBC.

Welcoming the report, ITV said it would be reading the proposals in detail.

The committee has spent five months devising ways of protecting plurality in public service broadcasting (PSB).

It said an independent, publicly-funded commission in Wales was the only way to safeguard its future.

'Democratic process'

The new body would be responsible for commissioning news and and other programmes initially for ITV Wales.

"We have seen Welsh programming being slashed on ITV Wales in recent years," said committee chair Janice Gregory.

"But plurality in English and Welsh medium broadcasting is essential for the future of the democratic process and indeed devolution in Wales.

"The situation in Wales is now critical for ITV and plurality, particularly with the recent announcement of the departure of the widely respected managing director of ITV Wales, Elis Owen.

"The committee feels that an independent body, charged with commissioning programmes from independent producers to broadcast on ITV, is the only way to safeguard that tradition of plurality in Welsh broadcasting."

An ITV spokesman said: "Ofcom has proposed a contestable funding arrangement as one possible solution for the continued provision of commercial television news in the nations and regions.

"ITV supports this suggestion and has offered to provide the slots available within its schedule as a platform for news provided by independent consortia.

"We welcome the report from the National Assembly of Wales' communities and culture committee and will be reading its proposals in detail."

A spokeswoman for Welsh language channel S4C said: "We will look closely at the recommendations published in the report and will assess the possible impact of those recommendations on S4C were they to be adopted."

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