Wales politics

BBC Wales cuts 'must not damage news'

BBC Wales broadcasting house
Image caption BBC bosses have met Welsh government ministers over the cuts

First Minister Carwyn Jones has welcomed reassurances about BBC Wales' daily news services after it announced some cutbacks.

BBC Wales will save £10.7m over five years, shedding about 100 of its 1,200 staff.

The Conservatives said news coverage must be protected, and the Lib Dems said the BBC's journalism must not suffer.

Plaid Cymru said the cuts showed broadcasting policy should be devolved.

Weekly politics programme Dragon's Eye is to be replaced by an independently-made programme and live coverage of the Welsh assembly will be limited to First Minister's Questions.

Director Rhodri Talfan Davies said BBC Wales would provide "richer" news coverage, and said two new posts - for an economics and a culture correspondent - would be created.

About 2,000 jobs in the BBC as a whole are expected to go as part of the Delivering Quality First review which demanded 20% savings and was established after a UK government decision to freeze the licence fee for six years.

'Tough decisions'

Most of the job losses at BBC Wales will be in support areas.

The first minister said he and Heritage Minister Huw Lewis were given reassurances that the BBC was taking steps to preserve all daily news services in Welsh and English, and that overall investment in current affairs and political programmes would be protected.

Ministers were "encouraged" to hear compulsory redundancies will only be used as a last resort.

Mr Jones said: "The BBC, as with all public sector organisations, is having to take some tough decisions to deliver significant savings over the next few years.

"As a nation with its own language, culture and political institutions, a strong media is essential to provide a comprehensive service that informs, educates and inspires the people of Wales."

The Tories' shadow heritage minister in the assembly, Suzy Davies, said: "It is absolutely crucial that the BBC properly protects its news coverage in Wales and I am initially satisfied that it has worked hard to do just that.

'Democratic paradox'

"I am particularly heartened to see there will be no cuts in daily news services and I very much hope there is no devil within the detail yet to be made public."

Plaid heritage spokeswoman Bethan Jenkins said it underlined the need to devolve responsibility for broadcasting.

The upshot of the cuts, combined with reductions at other media organisations in Wales, had created a "democratic paradox", she said.

"People in Wales now have more devolved power, but what is being decided in their name is being reported on less and less," she said.

Welsh Lib Dem culture spokesman Peter Black said: "We know that public bodies have to make savings given the financial situation we're in, however this cost-cutting exercise must not affect BBC Wales' journalistic output.

"Given the current state of the media in Wales, it is essential that BBC Wales continues to scrutinise politicians at all levels, public bodies and the Welsh government and explain to people why their work is relevant to democratic accountability and their everyday lives."

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