Page last updated at 21:15 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 22:15 UK

BBC audience want Wales reflected

Coal House families leave Stack Square, Blaenavon
Coal House was singled out for praise by the Audience Council for Wales

Viewers and listeners in Wales want BBC network news programmes to better reflect life in the UK after devolution, says a new report.

The Audience Council for Wales review echoes last year's report which said people wanted UK audiences to see "much more of modern Wales".

In its second annual review, the council praised programmes such as Coal House and Doctor Who.

BBC Wales controller Menna Richards said it had been a successful year.

The 11-member council was set up in January 2007 to represent the views of people in Wales to the BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body. It replaced the Broadcasting Council for Wales.

Its review echoes last year's report in which the council said viewers and listeners wanted UK audiences to see "much more of modern Wales".

BBC Wales controller Menna Richards discusses the latest report by the Audience Council for Wales

Among the points made by the council this year were:

  • It was pleased the BBC Trust had commissioned an impartiality review by Prof Anthony King of the reflection by network news of the reality of devolution in the UK and would monitor BBC management's action to address the matter;
  • There was "much to be done" before Wales was adequately reflected in general network output and that the BBC should bring forward proposals to ensure this happened;
  • It supported the introduction of the Freesat digital TV service to tackle lack of access to digital TV which was launched in May;
  • It remained "seriously concerned" about the availability through DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) of Radio Cymru and BBC Radio Wales, particularly in north west Wales and the south Wales valleys. The lack of a good FM signal for Radio Wales in many parts of the country was "an even more serious issue";
  • It was concerned about the continued financial pressures at the BBC Wales with increasing responsibilities placed on the broadcaster despite the lower than expected licence fee settlement;
  • It was worried about the impact on learners of the suspension of BBC Jam, the online interactive learning service for five-16-year-olds, and urged BBC management bring forward proposals to release materials prepared before the suspension;
  • Some audience members who met the council thought BBC Wales showed too much rugby in its output, while others welcomed the expansion of the Scrum V brand to radio.
  • The council concluded that BBC Wales' output had fulfilled its public service broadcasting responsibilities and praised its multi-platform coverage of the 2007 assembly election campaign and results, the 2007 rugby world cup tournament; and Wales' football clubs.

It also commended specific programmes for promoting education and learning like the Welsh language Mosgito and Yr Wythnos, which are screened on S4C, and singled out Coal House for its cross-platform provision, entertainment value and educational worth.

The council also noted the success of BBC Wales-produced programmes such as Doctor Who and its spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, and praised factual successes like Tribe, British Museum, Take A Bow and the Here For You community road shows.

But after hearing the consternation of rugby fans after the relocation of the Scrum V online bulletin and discussion board from /wales pages to the 606 pages on the Radio 5 Live site, the council recommended the forum be relocated back.

Janet Lewis-Jones, national trustee for Wales and chair of the audience council, said: "I look forward to seeing further successes resulting from the council's determination to ensure that the interests of audiences in Wales lie at the heart of all that the BBC does," she said.

Ms Richards said there had been many highlights in 2007 but the coverage of the assembly elections, the continued success of Doctor Who and the Coal House project best embodied the scale and success of BBC Wales' output for the year.

"I am confident BBC Wales is well placed for this new digital landscape, so long as we continue to invest in the very best talent and ideas for our audience," she said.




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