Rhodri Talfan Davies: BBC Wales cuts led to 'thinner programming'

Rhodri Talfan Davies said some programming has been affected by the cuts

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Cuts which led to a decision to protect "bedrock" BBC Cymru Wales services like news and political coverage have led to "thinner programming" in other areas, its director has said.

Rhodri Talfan Davies told Radio Wales a 20% reduction in spending over the past six or seven years had had consequences for areas such as comedy.

On Tuesday, during a speech in Cardiff, BBC director-general Tony Hall said programming in Wales had been "eroded".

BBC Wales is marking 50 years in 2014.

Mr Hall's speech to celebrate the anniversary at the National Assembly for Wales' Pierhead building included a declaration that English language broadcasting from and for Wales from all broadcasters had been declining for almost a decade.

Speaking on the Sunday Supplement programme, Mr Davies agreed with some of Mr Hall's points.

"The decision we took, and I think rightly, was to protect the bedrock of BBC Wales, its news, its current affairs, its political coverage.

"I think what Tony put his finger on in the speech is that clearly in making those decisions, the right decisions, they have consequences.

"[With] other programmes in some programming areas such as comedy or light entertainment or some areas of documentary, the programming gets thinner and that's the consequence of living within our means," he told presenter Vaughan Roderick.

'Disproportionate responsibility'

Start Quote

"The scale of ambition is there. What we're seeing from our in-house teams and from the indie sector is a real ambition to deliver”

End Quote Rhodri Talfan Davies Director, BBC Cymru Wales

Mr Davies said he believed what Mr Hall had recognised in his speech was that BBC Wales had a disproportionate scale of responsibility in journalism and broadcasting, with the press in Wales being limited in comparison to Scotland, for example.

"The responsibility for not just reporting Wales but making sense of Wales culturally, socially, linguistically, to a very large extent falls on the BBC," he said.

"[Tony Hall] has clocked the issue in Wales, particularly how we serve the 80% of the population who don't speak Welsh.

"There is a deficit there, not so much in the journalism which is often the focus of our political leaders, but in other areas such as comedy and light entertainment.

"What he's asking for is a broad-based debate, not a debate that is seen solely through the prism of news or the Welsh language, that looks at the full cultural needs of Wales."

He said there were examples of Wales-based drama and other output produced for network BBC such as The Indian Doctor and the forthcoming A Poet in New York, a drama about Dylan Thomas starring Tom Hollander, but "not enough".

Mr Davies added: "The money has been declining, but creatively we're not declining.

"The scale of ambition is there. What we're seeing from our in-house teams and from the indie sector is a real ambition to deliver."

BBC Llandaff BBC Wales' budget for TV programmes in English has fallen 18%

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