Welsh language faces online 'challenge' says Davies

A new approach to the way Welsh language services are provided online is needed, according to the director of BBC Wales.

In a speech at the National Eisteddfod, Rhodri Talfan Davies said that the Welsh language faces "significant challenges" in a world where smartphones, tablet computers and internet-enabled televisions are increasingly common.

New BBC research shows that more than half of Welsh adults now have Facebook accounts, and 45% own "smartphones" with full internet access.

Only 2% of those questioned say that they regularly "tweet" on the website Twitter.

Mr Davies told an audience on the maes, at Llandow in the Vale of Glamorgan, that the majority of younger people who are able to speak Welsh do not use it or Welsh-language services most of the time.

He said: "We have to recognise that most, younger, Welsh speakers live their lives largely through the medium of English - and few will turn to Welsh-language interactive services out of any sense of duty.

"They'll only come if the quality is there and we're offering something they can't get anywhere else. That's the challenge for all of us."

Currently, about 20,000 people view BBC Wales Welsh-language services online every week.

The corporation is aiming to more than double that figure by 2015 to 50,000 a week with "services our users consider indispensable".

Mr Davies said the growth would only be achieved if Welsh-language online services were given a sharper and more distinctive focus, and that those outside the BBC should be involved in their development.

'Technological expertise'

"We don't have all the answers - we never did - and we know that there are many people outside the doors of the BBC who have exciting ideas with the potential to transform our services.

"We need to open our doors to these people - and their ideas," he said.

The BBC is reviewing its Welsh-language services and will publish its plans for the future later this year.

Mr Davies told the audience at the eisteddfod that different organisations should work more closely together in the Welsh language.

He aims to share some of the BBC's technological expertise with other Welsh-language providers and work with the Welsh government to improve the way that digital learning resources are provided to students.

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