Wales politics

More BBC output in English for Wales needed, MPs told

Cast of Hinterland Image copyright Fiction Factory / S4C / All 3 Media / Tinopolis
Image caption Ian Jones said Hinterland's success showed there was increasing demand for programs in English in Wales

BBC Wales should make more English language programmes about Wales for the people of Wales, MPs have been told.

S4C chief executive Ian Jones said there had been a "substantial" decrease in such programming and "we would support on all levels increasing that".

Mr Jones was giving evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on the BBC's future.

BBC Wales said recently that protecting news and politics coverage from cuts had made other programming "thinner".

The comments in April, by BBC Wales director Rhodri Talfan Davies, followed a speech by BBC director-general Tony Hall in which he admitted programming in Wales had been "eroded".

On Tuesday, Mr Jones said focusing on the success of programmes such as Doctor Who and Casualty was a "red herring".

"The production of Doctor Who and Casualty in Wales - it's good, it's extremely good, it helps the skills base, it helps competition and it helps the perception of producing, but I don't think that's the issue, that is in fact a red herring," he said.

"I think the people of Wales would appreciate more programming - more local programming through the medium of English.

"If I have any criticism of the BBC in Wales, that criticism is shared by former BBC directors in Wales and, I suspect, the current BBC director, in that there's been a substantial decrease in programming produced and commissioned over the years in the English language for the people of Wales and we would support on all levels increasing that."

Mr Jones cited the example of Hinterland, a recent collaboration between S4C and BBC, which was broadcast in both Welsh and English, and bought by a number of Scandinavian broadcasters as a recent success, which according to Mr Jones, showed there was increasing demand for local programmes.

Referring to the relationship between the BBC and S4C, Mr Jones said it was working well because the operating agreement between the two stipulates that S4C is independent operationally, managerially and editorially.

A BBC Wales spokesperson said: "We obviously welcome Ian Jones's contribution to the discussion about the future of the BBC.

"As the BBC's director general recognised in May, the funding challenges facing English television programming in Wales are both significant and longstanding."

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