Radio Ceredigion bid to cut Welsh broadcasts criticised

Plans to cut the amount of Welsh on a radio station have been criticised by its supporters.

Radio Ceredigion has asked watchdog Ofcom to change its format, and a public consultation has been launched.

Owner Town and Country Broadcasting (TCB) wants to alter the station's bilingual output which is now split almost equally.

TCB said it totally embraced the Welsh language, and Radio Ceredigion is a bilingual station.

Ofcom said the station also wanted to reduce the amount of Welsh-language music during the day from 20% to 10%.

Radio Ceredigion was taken over by TCB in April last year and a studio in Aberystwyth was closed.

The Friends of Radio Ceredigion opposed the closure and they also are objecting to the proposal to vary the station's format.

Geraint Davies, chairman of the friends, said: "Radio Ceredigion has been broadcast from Narberth since April last year.

"What we are seeing is despite pressure from listeners and Ofcom, the station's owners are paying lip service to the Welsh language.

"We are looking at an area of Wales where the majority of people speak or have an understanding of Welsh. The old Radio Ceredigion had a strong following from the Welsh community, but it's now a largely English-orientated station.

Community programming

"It should be a proper bilingual service, with stand-alone Welsh programmes."

TCB managing director Martin Mumford said: "We totally embrace the Welsh language. We are not trying to reduce the Welsh language spoken [on the station] so there is none spoken. We recognise the radio station's need to be bilingual."

Mr Mumford said TCB's Ofcom application was about making the current format relating to the Welsh language "more workable".

"It's more of a technical change rather than a language of cultural change," he added.

On its website, Ofcom said a request for a change in format could be approved only if it satisfied at least one of the five criteria set out in the Broadcasting Act 1990.

"We do not consider that RCL's (Radio Ceredigion Limited) request meets criterion (a), that the departure would not substantially alter the character of service. As a result, we are required to consult on the request," Ofcom added.

Last September, Ofcom said in order to protect Radio Ceredigion's "character of service" it proposed varying the station's licence to ensure "at least an hour of community programming" every day was broadcast in Welsh.

It added that at least 30% of all music broadcast by the station during the day should be in the Welsh language as well.

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