Wales

TV in Wales 'needs public debate', says media expert

More debate is needed on the role of public service broadcasting in Wales, says a media expert.

As two Caernarfon-based media organisations make redundancies, media lecturer Dr Ruth McElroy said job losses in the sector were "not entirely unexpected".

TV facilities group Barcud Derwen has gone into administration with the loss of 35 jobs, while independent TV company Antena issued redundancy notices to 25 staff.

Antena has blamed S4C's decision to end a children's programme, Uned 5, which it produced.

Barcud Derwen was the host broadcaster of coverage of the national assembly in Cardiff Bay.

Dr McElroy, principal lecturer in communication, cultural and media studies at the University of Glamorgan, said there needed to be more public discussion about the role of public service broadcasting in the country.

'Hugely important'

She said: "The current economic climate, coupled with the changes facing the television industry in the digital, multi-channel age, makes for a challenging environment in which to operate.

"The TV industry is hugely important to Wales in terms of its economic value, especially given the number of jobs associated with TV production in different parts of the country.

"The full scale of this economic impact is probably unknown and is one of the reasons behind Prof Ian Hargreaves' call to map the creative industries sector in Wales in his recent report 'The Heart of Digital Wales'."

The report was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government and examined the assembly government's activities in creative industries.

"Although some of the recommendations have been debated within the sector, wider public debate is needed on how Wales can best develop its creative industries and ensure that the country has a TV ecology that meets the diverse needs of Welsh audiences across the regions," said Dr McElroy.

'Television matters'

"Television matters to most people as viewers and it is right that in the current debates about what public service broadcasting should deliver in Wales, audiences should take a central part," she added.

She said the business models developed for television in the analogue era may need to change, "especially with falling advertising revenue and the move away from public service delivery of news by the commercial broadcasters".

"But the value of public service as a universal form of broadcasting in Wales that is not motivated primarily by profit, certainly is not redundant, though it might well need reviving for a digital age," she said.

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