4. Memorandum submitted by HTV Wales
The National Assembly for Wales will be one
of the first democratic institutions to have been created in the
As a national broadcaster in Wales, HTV Wales
is fully aware of the opportunities and responsibilities it faces
in reporting the Assembly and its deliberations.
HTV intends to offer a service with the ambition,
confidence and vigour that are the characteristics of contemporary
Wales. HTV is the most watched channel in Wales. Its audience
has a high expectation of news, politics and current affairs.
HTV is committed to:
authoritative reporting of the news
and the stories behind it
investigative journalism of the highest
inclusive political analysis and
HTV Wales will offer a public service to enable
the people of Wales to make informed decisions in relation to
the range of domestic and political institutions that affect their
HTV believes that a choice of voices on matters
of political debate is an essential element of an effective democracy.
HTV is the independent television contractor
for Wales and the West of England. It is entirely funded by advertising
Its licence to broadcast was awarded by its
regulator, the Independent Television Commission, and came into
operation in 1993. It was awarded as a result of a competitive
bid under the terms of the 1990 Broadcasting Act.
In June 1998, HTV applied to the Independent
Television Commission to renew its licence for a further 10 years.
The outcome of the application for renewal will be made public
in late autumn this year, and has a very important bearing on
HTV's plans for the future. [see Licence Renewal (point three)
The licence is held by HTV Group Limited. The
company, though, operates two separate and distinct programme
services for Wales and the West of England. Each has its own management
structure. Details of group board, executive officers and advisory
boards are attached as Appendix I.
HTV Wales employs 250 staff. The company's headquarters
is at Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff. It has regional offices in Carmarthen,
Newtown, Mold, Colwyn Bay and Caernarfon. HTV Wales broadcasts
almost 12 hours a week of regional programmes including news,
current affairs, sport, documentaries, arts and music, education,
religion, children's, entertainment and drama.
HTV Wales is also commissioned by S4C to produce
programmes in Welsh. These include current affairs, drama and
The company is currently producing programmes
for Channel 4 UK and Channel 5.
Since the beginning of the current licence period,
HTV Wales has won dozens of awards for its programmes. These include
BAFTA awards for drama, current affairs and documentaries. The
New York Film and TV Festival has consistently recognised HTV's
high-quality programmes with awards for features, music and current
HTV journalists have won awards at the BT Journalism
Awards every year since their inception, including the award for
Investigative Journalists of the Year for a remarkable seven successive
The company's programmes are also reviewed annually
by the Independent Television Commission which publishes its performance
review. HTV has been regularly praised by the Independent Television
Commission for the high quality of its service to viewers in Wales.
3. LICENCE RENEWAL
1998 is a crucial year for HTV. On 1 June the
company submitted an application to the Independent Television
Commission for renewal of its licence. It is likely that the Independent
Television Commission's decision will be announced in late autumn
1998. HTV's current licence came into operation in 1993. It was
awarded as a result of a competitive bid under the 1990 Broadcasting
Act. HTV was one of four competitors for the Wales and the West
of England franchise. HTV's successful bid in the face of competition
was £21 million per annum. This compares with Scottish Television's
successful bid of £2,000 per annum, for which there was no
The original licence was for ten years with
an opportunity to apply for renewal six years into the licence
period. HTV has taken advantage of this opportunity to apply for
renewal. If successful, the new licence will come into operation
on 1 January 1999 for a further ten years.
The financial terms of the licence will be set
by the Independent Television Commission. There is no competitive
HTV believes that the particular circumstances
it faces in Wales place the company in a unique position in ITV.
HTV's commitment to full coverage of the Assembly
elections and the Assembly itself will place a financial burden
on the company which is unprecedented in ITV. Apart from Scottish,
with a very low annual licence payment at £2,000 no other
ITV company faces the challenges and responsibilities faced by
In addition to our coverage of the Assembly
we shall continue to report from Westminster and to cover elections
to Westminster and Europe.
As one half of an ITV licensee (HTV West is
the other half of the licence) HTV Wales alone faces significant
investment in order to provide the fundamental requirement for
full and comprehensive reporting of the Assembly.
In addition to its commitment to Assembly coverage,
HTV is planning to double its drama output from ten hours a year
to 20 hours. We believe that the advent of the National Assembly
will enhance perceptions of a Welsh identity. There will be a
demand amongst viewers for broadcasters to recognise that television
programmes must reflect this sense of identity. HTV believes that
the most effective and popular way of addressing this issue is
through drama. Our commitment to doubling our drama output requires
significant extra investment.
HTV is also conscious of the importance of attracting
television viewers back to Wales-based programmes. A large proportion
of the Welsh electorate could be denied coverage of important
decisions made by the Assembly because they cannot or do not receive
This issue is explored in greater detail under
Disenfranchised Viewers (point 5) below.
HTV is anxious to address all the issues outlined
above. We have ambitious plans for developing our service to viewers
in the new licence period. HTV is the most watched channel in
Wales. It should be enabled to continue to provide a popular and
successful service for viewers and to respond to the challenges
of the political changes in Wales.
A substantial reduction in HTV's bid is essential
if the company is to realise its ambitions:
To enhance quality programming for
To enable HTV Wales to reflect the
challenge of the cultural, social and political change that we
face once the National Assembly for Wales is established in 1999.
To allow HTV Wales to make the necessary
significant investment required to enable it to cover the National
Assembly for Wales comprehensively and professionally.
To ensure that HTV Wales' service
is made available to the largest possible number of viewers in
To provide the Welsh audience with
its demand for quality drama produced in Wales, as indicated by
recent independent research.
To invest in training and develop
new opportunities for those within the industry and for future
To invest in development funding
to produce programmes in Wales for transmission on the UK Networks
(i) Impact of the Assembly on HTV Wales'
The creation of the National Assembly will pose
a new challenge to our news, current affairs and political departments.
This changing environment will need a new kind of political and
news coverage and a considerable investment in additional staff
The Secretary of State for Wales has stressed
the need for the Assembly to be open and accessible. The fulfilment
of this aim demands an imaginative new approach to the broadcasting
of a democratic forum.
HTV will establish a new political unit to develop
the necessary expertise to report on the Assembly and the implementation
of its policy decisions.
In addition to our substantial news coverage,
we shall be producing weekly political programmes and current
affairs programmes to discuss stories raised by the Assembly.
Our political staff will establish close links
with MPs and political activists at local, Welsh assembly, Westminster
and European level. The Assembly will also present new broadcasting
opportunities, not only directly in the coverage of its own activities,
but also in the scrutiny it will bring to important aspects of
For much of the time the proceedings of the
Assembly will be important and meaningful in themselves. But HTV
will not be able to serve our audience properly unless, when the
story demands it, we integrate our coverage of all political institutions
in order to give our audiences a full and proper context for events.
This will be necessary both because of the division of functions,
particularly between Westminster and the Assembly and because
of the nature of events.
In addition to our considerable presence at
the Assembly we shall continue to have political staff covering
There will be an increased expectation that
broadcasters in Wales reflect social and political changes in
their programming. This is not simply about coverage of the Assembly,
although that is important. It is about providing a changing and
maturing society with a television service which does not replicate
that seen elsewhere in the UK. Of course viewers in Wales will
still want to watch the programmes from the ITV Network Centre
such as Coronation Street and the Bill. There will also be a demand
for HTV to recognise that viewers in Wales need a service which
reflects their sense of identity and their aspirations. The Assembly
will enhance perceptions of a Welsh identity. HTV will be seen
as a crucial ingredient in the Welsh social, political and cultural
New satellite, cable channels and digital terrestrial
networks will, in future, offer more UK and international news
and programming. By contrast our schedule will brand itself even
more strongly as a national Welsh service, commanding the loyalty
of Welsh viewers as audiences inevitably fragment with increased
We intend to double our drama output from 1999
to reflect the expectations of Welsh viewers.
(ii) Elections to the National Assembly
The election for the Welsh Assembly will be
a defining moment in Welsh history. It will be an enormous challenge
for HTV to provide a comprehensive service about the campaign,
including the election results and their aftermath. The voting
system is new and complicateda combination of first past
the post and proportional representation.
As the most watched channel in Wales, we intend
to provide comprehensive coverage of the build up to the campaign,
the campaign itself and the results.
Summarising HTV's approach to coverage of the
elections and the Assembly itself:
we are committed to a substantial
we are conscious of the challenge
to our journalism;
we are aware that it will require
a heavy new investment within our operations;
pluralism is essential for the democracy
of the Welsh Assembly. HTV will ensure that there is healthy competition
in the coverage of the National Assembly.
A large proportion of the Welsh electorate could
be denied coverage of important decisions made by the Welsh Assembly
because they cannot or do not receive HTV Wales.
There are three aspects to the reception problem:
The inability of some homes to receive
an HTV Wales signal because of transmitter/frequency deficiencies;
The lack of awareness amongst some
viewers of the availability of HTV Wales;
Overlap areas where viewers can receive
more than one ITV channel.
In July 1997 HTV began broadcasting from a new
transmitter for the Wrexham area and this enabled residents of
the town to receive HTV by either re-tuning their sets (if they
already received BBC Wales/S4C) or by purchasing a new aerial.
In view of the frequency problems on Deeside and part of the Welsh
Marches there are insurmountable problems to the introduction
of an HTV service on analogue.
Engineering solutions and frequency deficiencies
are not the reasons why the majority of the 330,000 do not receive
HTV Wales. In overlap areas (HTV Wales/Granada, HTV Wales/Central)
viewers may be unaware of their ability to receive HTV Wales or
may have failed to take advantage of the opportunity to do so.
This significant section of the audience must be offered positive
motivation to choose HTV.
We have commissioned NOP to conduct research
which evaluates the extent of the problem. We have also commissioned
research jointly with BBC Wales and S4C to assess the impact that
aerial installers may have on householders' choice of TV station.
HTV believes that it is possible to address
the issue of extending coverage by developing a marketing strategy
to increase awareness of the availability of HTV Wales and to
inform viewers that they may be able to tune into HTV Wales with
their existing aerials.
A marketing campaign would ensure that viewers
who wished to enjoy a plurality of coverage for the National Assembly
would be aware that they could receive HTV Wales.
6. DIGITAL TELEVISION
In October Sky launch their new Digital Satellite
Television services and in November Digital Terrestrial Television
(DTT) is due to start. In the context of broadcasting regulation,
it is important to understand that digital technology blurs the
boundaries between broadcasting, computing, publishing and telecommunications.
Most homes within digital terrestrial coverage
will be able to receive DTT using their existing aerial; others
will require a new one. The set-top box will plug into the existing
socket on the television set. New integrated digital television
sets will also be available. These will receive a number of new
DTT Reception in Wales
The Independent Television Commission has acknowledged
that up to a quarter of the Welsh population will not receive
digital terrestrial television, at least initially.
The topography of Wales with major centres of
population based in valleys makes it hard for signals from main
transmitters to reach them. The areas most likely to miss out
on digital are the towns in and around Gwent Valleys and rural
areas such as Mid Wales. Since digital broadcasting is still in
its infancy the true situation could be better or worse.
The Independent Television Commission will look
at the problem of a lack of DTT reception once the first phase
of digital TV has been launched. One possible solution may be
use of microwave transmission.
Forecasting the rate of digital take-up Wales
is precarious, as is determining which communities will not able
to receive DTT. However, the Digital Network state that they hope
that Wenvoe and Moel y Parc transmitters will be on-air with the
new services at the time of their launch. The roll-out for digital
will continue with the following transmitters.
Kilvey Hill December 1998
Blaenplwyf December 1998
Carmel January 1999
Llanddona March 1999
Preseli March 1999
Aberdare October 1999
Pontypool December 1999
The UK Digital Terrestrial Group (DTG) plan
to operate a database of predicted reception such that prospective
purchases can find out whether they will be able to receive the
new services. There are over 70 member companies of DTG who represent
the industry, broadcasters, manufacturers and major retailers.
The Government has recently conducted a consultation
exercise on some of the major issues relating to the timing and
manner of the transition from analogue to digital delivery of
television services. This is known as the "analogue switch-off".
ITV does not support a premature decision on
a switch-off date, given the embryonic state of the digital market.
It recommends instead that the Government identifies a target
date within the next two years and takes specialist advice on
whether and how progress is being made towards that date in the
coming years. The target date can be confirmed or changed in the
light of experience.
The aim should be to ensure that broadcasters,
manufacturers and consumers are given a clear indicative time-scale,
whilst ensuring that technical and economic conditions are met
and public interest considerations are safeguarded before a
final date for switch-off is announced.
7. ROLE OF
HTV is a commercial broadcaster regulated by
the Independent Television Commission. HTV Wales and HTV West
form a single licence area within ITV and are regulated as such.
HTV in common with all independent companies,
contributes towards the cost of the ITV Network budget. Although
federal in structure, ITV has a governing body, the ITV Council
which oversees the operation of the ITV Network.
HTV recognizes that the National Assembly will
wish to consider the accountability of broadcasters in Wales.
We look forward to active participation in the debate.
1998 signals the start of a new era in UK Broadcasting.
Digital television will transform viewing choices
for the public. There is a significant degree of uncertainty about
a number of critical commercial and technical factors which could
affect the rate of development of digital services in the UK market.
In 1998 we cannot have a clear picture about how people will watch
and use television in 2009. The only certainty is that anyone's
forecasts over this time period will be incorrect and that there
will be intense competition for the attention of our viewers.
The key factors which will impact on the UK
broadcast market and our performance over the next ten years are:
A reduction in economic growth in
the period. Third party macroeconomic forecasts generally suggests
that the UK economy will enter a downturn in 1999.
Significantly increased competition
within television resulting from the launch of digital platforms.
This will result in pressure on ITV viewing shares and, therefore,
increased pressure on the share of television advertising revenue
that Channel 3 is likely to command.
Increased competition from non-television
media such as the internet, and other in and out of home leisure
activities. This will both divert viewers away from the television
and generate more competition for advertising expenditure.
Rising programming costs through
competition for talent and rights.
The need to respond to major changes
in the political structures in Wales.
As we have described in detail in this document,
HTV faces critical challenges in the years ahead - challenges
which are unprecedented in ITV.
The outcome of the licence renewal process is
clearly crucial to our ability to realize fully our ambitions
for the future.
We are determined that HTV's coverage of the
election to the National Assembly and of the Assembly itself will
inform, challenge and stimulate our viewers.
Our coverage of the Assembly is but a part of
our intention to enhance our service to viewers in Wales. HTV
is the most watched channel in Wales, its programmes are popular,
successful and highly regarded. We shall continue to provide a
service of variety and quality to viewers in Wales.
2 October 1998