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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Record results claim by BBC Wales
Doctor Who stars Billie Piper and David Tennant
The review claims Doctor Who as a triumph for BBC Wales
BBC Wales is claiming a "record year" despite substantial job cuts and continued pressure on programme-makers for budget savings.

Its 2005-2006 review welcomes the boost from Bafta-winning Doctor Who, but urges more about contemporary Wales.

As in previous reviews, there was no mention of top executives' salaries.

It also raised serious concerns about listeners who cannot receive Radio Wales or Radio Cymru on digital services.

The review is a summary of the Broadcasting Council for Wales' assessment of BBC Wales' performance for the year.

It said the budget for the Doctor Who series had helped treble the budget for programmes made in Wales for the BBC's UK networks to 50m.

But the council said it would like to see the representation of contemporary Wales improved in programmes aimed at audiences outside Wales.

Menna Richards
BBC Wales can claim to be in the strongest position in its proud history
Controller Menna Richards

It trumpets the success of Doctor Who as "made in Wales by BBC Wales". There has been criticism in the past that programmes like Doctor Who and Life on Mars, the time-travelling police series set in 1970s Manchester, do little to reflect Wales on the screen, even though they are made in Wales.

With 70% of Welsh speakers unable to receive DAB - Digital Audio Broadcasting - and with restricted FM coverage for Radio Wales, the council's national governor, Merfyn Jones, voiced his concern about the effect this has on radio's ability "to reach a significant part of its potential audience".

The review reported a 61% rise in BBC Wales' online unique users figures from 470,000 in the year to March 2005 to 782,000 in the year to March 2006.

'Proud history'

The Welsh language online service Cymru'r Byd saw its unique users figure rise 65% from 23,000 to 35,000 over the same period.

The review made no mention of top executives' salaries, unlike the wider BBC annual report last week which showed director-general Mark Thompson was paid 619,000.

I'm surprised BBC Wales has chosen to ignore the fact that it has been such a difficult year for staff in Wales
Paul McLaughlin, National Union of Journalists
BBC Wales said that only the salaries of the BBC Wales executive board were ever made public and that controller Menna Richards' pay had never been published in the annual review.

In the review, Ms Richards said that "BBC Wales can claim to be in the strongest position in its proud history".

Last year, BBC Wales staff took part in a BBC wide-strike over proposed job losses as part of an overall scheme to implement 15% cuts across all BBC departments.

In July 2005 Ms Richards said proposed cuts of 200 posts were part of plans to achieve savings of 13.5% over three years, a total of 9.6m.

BBC Wales, Cardiff
A three-year cost-cutting drive aims to save 9.6m at BBC Wales

BBC Wales said on Tuesday that the savings saw the closure of 172 posts in management, administration, production and operations, and another 30 in professional services.

A spokesman said most would be voluntary redundancies and come into effect this autumn "leaving BBC Wales on track to meet the required target".

BBC Wales said it had "enhanced its reputation as a powerhouse of exceptional output for the BBC networks".

It added: "This considerable achievement has changed perceptions of BBC Wales' capacity to contribute even more in coming years, especially in the context of the BBC's intention to develop more production outside London.

"It also builds the media industries and thus enhances the creative potential of Wales - a very substantial contribution to the economy of Wales."

Paul McLaughlin of the National Union of Journalists said: "I'm surprised BBC Wales has chosen to ignore the fact that it has been such a difficult year for staff in Wales.

"The cutbacks already announced and those still in discussion have had a seriously detrimental effect on the BBC's ability to deliver the best possible programmes and output from Wales.

"It's right that BBC Wales is proud of the programmes it has delivered but the claim that this has been 'a record year' is papering over - not the cracks - but the faultline that cutbacks in staff and budgets have created."


SEE ALSO
At a glance: BBC annual report
07 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Doctor Who is Bafta award winner
08 May 06 |  Entertainment
BBC wants too much cash, says ITV
23 May 06 |  Entertainment

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