Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Second Report


Broadcasting Council for Wales

  The Broadcasting Council for Wales welcomes this opportunity to submit evidence to the inquiry into broadcasting conducted by the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs. The inquiry comes at a most opportune time for Wales as the nation faces great opportunities and challenges arising from constitutional change, and broadcasting embarks upon its most radical change since the introduction of colour television. Devolution and the development of digital television provide Wales with the chance to reflect the sense of identity and national awareness amongst the Welsh people, as well as the diversity of their lives and interests.

  It is not the Council's intention to develop the themes and issues that have been so clearly identified within the BBC's own submission to the Committee. Indeed, the Council has been fully consulted on the evidence, and endorses the response that is being submitted by the Chairman of the BBC and the National Governor for Wales/Chairman of the Broadcasting Council for Wales.

  The Council's brief addendum relates specifically to issues pertaining to the final question posed by the Committee, on the role of the Assembly in the scrutiny of broadcasting in Wales.

  The Broadcasting Council for Wales' role in advising the BBC on the direction and performance of programmes and services in Wales in specified in the current BBC Royal Charter, as is its responsibility to advise the Board of Governors on the views and opinions of the people of Wales. With the creation of a National Assembly for Wales, the members of the Council believe that they will need to become more openly accountable for the way in which these functions are fulfilled. Indeed, the Broadcasting Council needs to be publicly recognised as the key mechanism of accountability to the people of Wales, and as being in regular and constructive dialogue with the BBC's Board of Governors.

  A new approach, aimed at heightening the Council's profile and interaction with the viewers and listeners of Wales is already being developed. This is likely to involve:

    —  the development of a working relationship with the National Assembly which will include:

  —  the submission of its Annual Review to the appropriate Committee of the new body, and the presentation of the Review by the Council's Chairman (the BBC's National Governor for Wales) and the Controller of BBC Wales.

  —  dialogue between the Council and appropriate Assembly committees on broadcasting issues and other relevant projects.

    —  the enhancement of the public profile of the Council, through the development of a "Listening Strategy" that will include an annual programme of seminars and public meetings, and the utilisation of external assessment Panels to provide in-depth advice on BBC Wales' programme services.

    —  the presentation of BBC Wales' Annual Review to meetings of opinion formers and other representatives of viewers and listeners in Wales.

    —  the utilisation of BBC Wales' web-site to facilitate improved dialogue with the audience.

  The Broadcasting Council for Wales will have an increasingly important role to play, in reporting to the BBC on the aspirations and concerns of the licence fee payers of Wales; in advising on the implications of devolution for public service broadcasting; and in helping to communicate effectively with members of the National Assembly. The Council welcomes these challenges as the BBC continues to develop its public service broadcasting remit in the new Digital Age.

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Prepared 11 May 1999