BBC funding switch to Wales call to avoid TV 'crisis'

Television gallery - generic The IFA said BBC Wales' output has fallen by 18% since 2003

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A think tank is calling for the BBC to redistribute funding to allow for a better English-language television service in Wales.

The Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) is calling for an immediate cash injection of £5m to improve the service.

It claims English-language television in Wales is "in crisis" following the reduction of ITV Wales' output and cuts at the BBC.

Neither the BBC centrally or BBC Wales would comment on the IWA's call.

The IWA's call comes in a report in response to the BBC's current strategy review which has attracted publicity for threatening cuts, including the closure of BBC 6 Music, the Asian Network and half of the corporation's websites.

'Greater equity'

The IWA, chaired by former BBC Wales Controller Geraint Talfan Davies, argues that ITV Wales' output in English has "collapsed" and that of BBC Wales has fallen by 18% since 2003.

It says the BBC spending should be "re-balanced" by halting cuts in BBC Wales and switching £5m to Wales to fund an additional two hours of new programming a week.

The IWA's report says BBC Wales' £23m English-language TV budget should progressively grow to around £40m to provide better provision in drama, music, arts, factual and light entertainment programming.

It insists, however, that it is not demanding a bigger licence fee, but a "re-balancing" of spend within the BBC's current income.

It said: "This re-balancing should be achieved over a three-year period by halting the present budgetary cuts within BBC Wales, and beginning with a switch of not less than £5m into Wales to allow for an additional two hours per week of new programming.

"The BBC should continue to enhance its contribution to Welsh culture and society, and has a particular obligation to do so, now that ITV Wales output has collapsed."

Radio coverage

The report says the BBC "must provide an English-language service that delivers demonstrably greater equity between the two languages in Wales".

It also calls for urgent action to ensure that Radio Wales and Radio Cymru enjoy the same transmission coverage in Wales as the BBC's UK services.

It says Radio Wales gets to only 62% of the audience in FM and less than 50% on DAB. UK services have 88% of coverage.

The BBC Trust said: "We are not going to comment on individual responses to the strategy review consultation. All responses to our consultation will be taken into consideration."

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