Wales

Concerns over new BBC Radio Wales morning show

Claire Summers
Image caption Claire Summers' first breakfast show will be on 13 May

The Welsh Government has raised concerns about schedule changes at BBC Radio Wales.

Deputy economy minister Lee Waters used a meeting with broadcasting regulator Ofcom to object to the decision to drop the Good Morning Wales programme.

Mr Waters said the changes would mean there would be "no serious news programme" broadcast at breakfast time.

The BBC said it was "committed to delivering news to the widest audience".

BBC Radio Wales' Breakfast with Claire Summers will be an all-speech news programme when it begins broadcasting on 13 May, while Good Evening Wales will be replaced by a shorter drivetime news programme presented by Gareth Lewis from 17:00 to 18:30.

Mr Waters - a producer for Good Morning Wales when he worked for the BBC in the early 2000s - has challenged the BBC's decision to scrap the programme on his personal social media account in recent weeks.

But his objections have now been adopted by the Welsh Government.

Mr Waters used a meeting with Ofcom's director for Wales, Eleanor Marks, to express concern at the changes.

Image caption Lee Waters is a former BBC Wales employee who is now the AM for Llanelli

He said: "We feel that as a public service broadcaster, with a duty under its latest charter to reflect the nations, that they have an obligation to provide serious news and scrutiny. Just as BBC Scotland and BBC network do.

"I understand they feel the need to build an audience and to go after the audience that had previously been listening to commercial radio, but in the Welsh media scene they are the only outlet providing serious news in the breakfast-time slot.

"Their obligation to public service broadcasting goes beyond chasing audiences."

Ofcom is the external regulator of the BBC's television, radio and on-demand programmes.

In a statement, BBC Wales said: "In March, BBC Radio Wales announced a new all-speech breakfast news programme which will launch later this month and we remain committed to delivering news to the widest audience in Wales seven days a week."

Senior BBC Wales managers have also publicly rejected claims that the replacement breakfast programme would adopt a "magazine" format, and said the programme would continue to scrutinise and analyse the day's news.

Image caption Jason Mohammad, Eleri Sion and Wynne Evans will have some minor changes to their broadcast times

Mr Waters said he had no issue with the new programme's presenter, but said a lack of detail about the show ahead of its launch was also a concern.

"Part of the problem is we don't have the detail of the format," he said.

"We don't have a template of exactly what they are going for."

Asked if he had any qualms about the government being perceived to be interfering in a BBC editorial decision, Mr Waters said: "We don't do it lightly at all.

"I think the editorial independence of the BBC is very important but we think the Welsh media ecosystem is so fragile that, after some consideration, we felt it was justified.

"If Good Morning Wales does not exist, or an equivalent serious news programme does not exist, there would be no serious news programme for Wales on the radio in that agenda-setting slot.

"That is serious. There is no other outlet in Wales, in print or on radio, that provides the type of scrutiny that GMW has historically provided."

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