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'Ordinary Welsh life' plea for TV

9 June 08 17:22 GMT

BBC Wales hopes to produce 5% - if not more - of programmes that appear on the network by 2016, the Welsh assembly's broadcasting committee has been told.

The figure was confirmed by BBC Wales controller Menna Richards.

BBC director general Mark Thompson has announced that by 2016 half of network programmes will be produced outside London - 17% in the nations.

While welcoming the move, committee members wanted to know how many of the programmes would portray life in Wales.

Ms Richards and director of nations and regions, Pat Loughrey, were told by committee chair Alun Davies that portraying life in Wales should count for more than claiming as BBC Wales productions, series such as Life On Mars, which was filmed and produced elsewhere.

BBC Wales-produced dramas Dr Who and Torchwood were a "step in the right direction" but had done little to portray life in Wales, said Mr Davies.

He added: "You occasionally glimpse St Mary Street or the Bay there on Torchwood but what you don't have is a portrayal of life in Wales.

"In that sense, you know, Wales really is a forgotten nation when it comes to the BBC. You don't see the portrayal of ordinary, every day life in this country."

Ms Richards accepted that BBC had not got it right in the past.

She said: "The BBC has recognised the importance of ensuring that all parts of the UK are appropriately reflected on its services. That is not to say that we've got it right.

"I think the whole of the BBC would certainly agree that there is a long way to go on the whole notion of portrayal."

The committee referred to a report, widely expected to be critical of the BBC, which will be published on Wednesday.

Professor Anthony King has been asked by the BBC trustees to look in detail at network news and the extent to which it reflects the changing face of the UK, after devolution.

Pat Loughrey, the BBC's director of nations and regions, said: "I think there is an absolute requirement on a publicly-funded broadcaster to reflect the cultures, voices, identity and economy of the whole of the United Kingdom from which it collects its licence fee - that is an imperative."

Mr Thompson and BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons are due to give evidence next week

Last week, Welsh culture minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas told the committee that UK TV networks were failing to broadcast sufficient programmes from Wales.

The minister claimed that only 0.8% of network programmes were made in Wales.

He also said that despite recent successes such as Dr Who and Torchwood, there was a basic failure to portray Wales on the networks.

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