Date: 17.04.2013 Last updated: 06.10.2014 at 11.23
This event to listen to audiences was arranged by BBC Audience Council Wales staff, with representatives from all local organisations invited to come along. The event was jointly hosted by the BBC National Trustee for Wales and the Chair of the S4C Authority. Discussions took place at 5 tables with three discussion groups conducted in Welsh and the other two in English. Around 35 guests were present, the gender balance was good, and the age range of those present extended from 2 years old to 80+
Drama was a popular genre with Call the Midwife, Doctor Who (“I feel really proud that it is produced in Wales”), Borgen, Downton Abbey, Foyle’s War, The Village, Rownd a Rownd, Gwaith Cartref and Teulu specifically mentioned.
Continuing dramas were also appreciated, including Pobol y Cwm, East Enders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, though it was felt that there was a generally depressing downward trend in ‘soapland’, with the participants saying they would welcome a general lightening in the atmosphere. In relation to Pobol y Cwm, one participant said “It is all so sad” and others agreeing that this had led to them watching less often than in the past.
Entertainment was another important genre with many participants enjoying programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and Côr Cymru. There were many however who felt reality programmes had run their course, with I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here and Big Brother mentioned in this context. S4C’s Noson Lawen was criticised for being “too professional – it was better when it took place in a barn like a proper noson lawen. Now it is more of a concert than a noson lawen”.
There was much fond reminiscing about C’mon Midffild, one of S4C’s most popular comedy dramas in the 1980s and comedy was considered a key genre. Rhaglen Tudur Owen, Jonathan, Mrs Brown’s Boys and Miranda were all mentioned in this context.
Factual programmes were also appreciated with Coast, Countryfile, Antiques Roadshow, Weatherman Walking, and The Hairy Bikers, all mentioned as viewing highlights in this genre. Other participants said that they enjoyed learning more about life in Wales, past and present, through the BBC’s factual output. It was felt by some that there was a paucity of religious programming and Christian services, though there was appreciation for S4C’s Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol. Though some disagreed, many participants felt that there were now simply too many cookery programmes in the BBC’s output – “there are too many of the same kind of programmes across all channels. There need to be more unique programmes”. Iolo Williams was considered a first class presenter on both S4C and the BBC.
There was a perception amongst some participants that the BBC had a duty to portray different areas of the UK, so that they better understood each other, and helped audiences to “step outside their cocoon”, and it was felt that the BBC had become better at this recently, with some of the view that the BBC’s new centre in Salford had helped this. However, a number of participants felt that Wales should appear more on Network productions “We have great scenery here, which should be utilised”. It was felt that were this to happen, it could have a positive impact on tourism.
BBC Cymru Wales’ short promotion videos for the 2013 Six Nations Rugby Tournament were widely praised by participants who described them as “wonderfully imaginative and humorous”.
Several participants felt that background music on TV programmes could be too loud, and marred the viewing experience.
There was widespread agreement on the importance of children’s programmes on both S4C and CBeebies / CBBC, though some felt that the approach of both encouraged children to be cheeky. Others felt that programmes such as Horrible Histories represented the best example possible of edutainment for children.
Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 4, Radio Wales and Radio
Cymru were all mentioned by participants, as popular, with some participants
relying heavily on particular radio stations. One participants said “Radio 4
got me through my divorce” while several considered Radio Cymru their main
source of information – and more important to the nation even than S4C’s Welsh
Favourites mentioned by participants included Greg
James and Huw Stephens on Radio 1, Chris Evans on Radio 2, and Tudur Owen and
Caryl Parry Jones on Radio Cymru.
DAB reception in the
area was considered ‘patchy’ though had improved slightly recently. There was a
great variation in reception, depending on local topography.
bbc.co.uk and on-demand services
There was a consensus regarding the reliability of
the BBC’s on-line offering with parents of the view that they would not need to
supervise their children’s surfing of the BBC website.
Participants also accessed bbc.co.uk to keep up to
date on news and weather reports and some participants made the point that they
use their smart phones to access the news of their region throughout the day.
On-demand services were
now considered ‘vital’ and widely accessed by those with adequate broadband
speeds – “iPlayer is the best thing ever!” Others with inadequate
broadband speeds complained of difficulties.
News and Current Affairs
The BBC was generally considered to be the news
provide par excellence and main source of news for most participants.
There were some complaints that north Wales was inadequately covered, though a
recognition by others that this had improved since the BBC’s facilities in
Wrexham had expanded. Others felt that the news reflected the population differences
in north and south Wales and was not as imbalanced as the UK network news,
which concentrated to a far greater extent on the Westminster bubble.
The BBC political and current affairs output was
praised, with many considering The Wales Report to be a valuable
addition to the schedules, and Huw Edwards praised both in this context and
more widely in such programmes as The Story of Wales.
Pawb a’i Farn
was also appreciated by many, and considered a more balanced programme than Question
Time, which some participants now felt had become increasingly extreme and
polarised, to the detriment of the issues discussed.
Lack of clarity on the
relevance of news stories to the various nations of the UK remained a problem
for some participants – as one said “you often don’t know whether the news
is referring to the NHS in England or the NHS in Wales.”
Sport was, as ever, a polarising topic, with some
participants considering it a blight on the schedules while others loved it and
wanted more. There was a general welcome for the appearance of more women
sports presenters, which participants felt provided a good role model for girls
and young women.
Rugby, soccer and Formula 1 motorsport were the main
sports appreciated in the BBC’s output.
Reception problems with both FM and DAB radio were
reported and Freeview problems in some areas.
There was a general consensus that the Licence Fee
represented good value for money to users of the BBC’s services.