BBC in Wales 'strong' but faces challenges - BBC Trust

Image caption Audience perceptions were high for TV news but weekly reach had fallen

The BBC's performance in Wales is "strong" with reach levels and audience perceptions often above the UK average, says the BBC Trust.

But its service review, which also looked at Scotland and Northern Ireland, also found that BBC services made in and for Wales face challenges.

The Trust found younger audiences were still proving the hardest to reach.

It also noted that both BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru were not reaching as many listeners as they were.

Earlier this month, both stations recorded their lowest listening figures this century.

The BBC Trust - the broadcasting corporation's governing body - said both stations were highly valued by their listeners and were looking at how to maintain their appeal.

Image caption The listener figures for BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru for the second quarter of each year since 2008 - which came out on 4 August

It said Radio Wales faced strong competition from commercial music stations and also from BBC Radio 2 and "we encourage fresh thinking" in meeting its challenges.

The review also looked at BBC Wales' news and current affairs on TV and online and found that while audience perceptions were high, the reach of these services had fallen slightly in line with wider trends.

It said in line with overall BBC TV trends, the weekly reach for the Wales Today evening news programme fell from 52% in 2011 to 49% in 2015.

Meanwhile the reach of BBC Wales' current affairs programmes dropped from 15% to 12%.

The Trust found audience perceptions for BBC Wales online were "very positive". Its research found:

  • 91% of users find it informative
  • 83% find it relevant
  • 81% say it is high quality
  • 71% find it provides the right amount of coverage for their area.

As the shift of audiences online is likely to only increase, the Trust has asked the BBC to suggest clearer plans for how it plans to address this challenge in each nation.

In terms of meeting audience expectations in Wales, the Trust said the BBC needed to find ways to ensure audiences are kept informed about Welsh matters "and that their expectations in areas such as Welsh political coverage and holding decision-makers to account are fully met".

BBC Trustee for Wales, Elan Closs Stephens, said: "The BBC's services in Wales play a very important role in informing, supporting and celebrating Wales.

"Radio Wales and Radio Cymru are unique and hugely valued by Welsh audiences but they face challenges.

"The Trust is pleased that Radio Wales is already looking at its editorial direction and we have asked the BBC to consider how its language offers should evolve in the future."

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