Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Wednesday, 3 December 2008

New TV channel in Wales is urged

Television gallery - generic
Broadcasting is not an issue which has been devolved to Wales

A new English-language TV channel for Wales should be considered, says an official advisory group.

Opt-out slots on ITV Wales should be funded by public money, according to the Broadcasting Advisory Group.

It also wants a Wales media commission to commission programming independently of government.

The recommendations have been endorsed by the assembly government, but broadcasting is not devolved and they would need UK government funding.

The group was established in October to examine the future of English-language broadcasting in Wales.

It was recently announced that ITV would be allowed to cut its programming in English amid the slump in income from advertising.

The situation is very serious... Wales is on track to be a passive consumer of programmes rather than have its own voice
Huw Jones, Broadcasting Advisory Group

ITV Wales output is due to fall to 5.5 hours a week in January, amounting to four hours of news and 1.5 hours of non-news.

The group suggests the annual investment for its proposals would be around 50 million.

Advisory group chairman Huw Jones, the former chief executive of the Welsh-language broadcaster S4C, said it was vital to offer plurality of programme supply.

"The situation is very serious," he said. "Wales is on track to be a passive consumer of programmes rather than have its own voice."

Print media

Responsibility for broadcasting in Wales lies with the UK government, rather than the Welsh Assembly Government.

ITV Wales cuts will compound the effects of the decline of local print media and the scarce Welsh presence on UK broadcast networks, he added.

The advisory group said that BBC Wales had to make savings of 3m a year for the next five years.

The group's other members are former BBC Radio Wales editor Julie Barton, former BBC Wales controller Geraint Talfan Davies, and Professor Kevin Morgan of Cardiff University.

"Taking BBC Wales and ITV Wales together there is a danger that the annual value of television output in English for Wales will have declined by 25m - 30m from its 2006 level by 2013," said the group.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones, who appointed the group, said: "We believe that its conclusions provide a compelling rationale for maintaining and strengthening English-language public sector broadcasting in Wales".

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