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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 07:08 GMT
Future of Welsh TV to be outlined

Jon Gower
BBC Wales Arts and Media Correspondent

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Observers fear Ofcom's plan will see a cut in ITV programmes in Wales
Television viewers in Wales will find out on Tuesday how the regulator Ofcom wants to change broadcasting.

There has been concern that fewer programmes may be made in Wales, and fears about the future of ITV Wales.

But Ofcom has stressed that any changes would strengthen both English and Welsh language programmes.

It says the review is part of a major overhaul of regulation across the communications sector.

Ofcom has the power to reduce the number of hours for ITV Wales, and to make recommendations to the UK government about the future of S4C.

Having recently announced its intention to relax the requirement in England for regional programmes from 10 to 8.5 hours, it is likely to announce just how many hours ITV Wales will have to make for the home audience.

This is keenly awaited by many. Some politicians had warned that ITV Wales could disappear altogether if regulation became too lax, with a subsequent loss of jobs and viewer choice in Wales.

Independent companies

Ofcom is also likely to announce a quota for independent programmes made in Wales for the ITV network, addressing what is considered by some to be a major imbalance in the current arrangement.

Currently, although 5% of the UK population lives in Wales only 1% of network programmes come from Wales. Most network production happens within the loop of the M25.

Ofcom will also outline a set of three proposals for the future of S4C as part of a two-month-long consultation.

The first is keeping things pretty much as they are, with the BBC supplying 10 hours of programmes a week, with the remainder made by independent companies.

The second - and the option least favoured by Ofcom - is bringing S4C under the wing of the BBC.

A third option is that the S4C authority could remain in place, but the programme supply would be put out to tender.

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