Wales politics

BBC bosses Rhodri Talfan Davies and James Purnell back Welsh representative

Rhodri Talfan Davies and James Purnell
Image caption BBC Cymru Wales director Rhodri Talfan Davies (left) and BBC director of strategy and digital James Purnell were speaking to MPs

Senior BBC managers have said a representative from Wales should continue to be part of its new management and governance structure.

BBC Cymru Wales director Rhodri Talfan Davies and BBC director of strategy and digital James Purnell gave evidence to the Commons' Welsh Affairs Committee.

They were responding to MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport committee.

It had recommended there should be no "specific" representative from Wales on a proposed BBC unitary board.

Mr Purnell said it was "absolutely right to have nations' representatives on the unitary board".

Mr Talfan Davies added that previous governors and trustees since the 1950s had a "track record" of contributing a "huge amount" to the BBC's governance.

'Legitimate concerns'

In a wide-ranging evidence session before the Welsh MPs' inquiry into broadcasting, the BBC bosses were asked about the relationship between the broadcaster and S4C.

Since 2013 S4C has received the majority of its income, around £75m, from the BBC licence fee.

Mr Talfan Davies said that while there had been "legitimate concerns" when the previous UK government introduced the new relationship between the BBC and S4C, he said both broadcasters "went out of our way" to establish a "sensible working relationship".

He said that the new agreement with S4C had delivered "something greater than what had been achieved previously", and that he doubted that the successful bilingual TV series Hinterland would have been delivered before the operating agreement between S4C and the BBC came into force.

Political differences

Pushed on the amount the BBC spends on its biggest stars - by committee chairman David TC Davies - Mr Purnell said it had "significantly reduced" the salaries of its top talent, but resisted a suggestion that the costs of on-screen presenters should be published as the BBC had to operate within a commercial market.

The proposal for an English-language television bulletin encompassing news from Wales, the UK and the world - dubbed the Wales Six - was put to Mr Talfan Davies, who said the idea had to be considered in terms of whether it would have a significant impact on audiences.

He cited recent research by the BBC which found that audiences still struggled to understand the political differences that existed between Wales and the UK since devolution, and argued that changes to existing services should be considered alongside proposals for new programmes.

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