Wales politics

Minister Lord Elis-Thomas criticises Welsh language news

Lord Elis-Thomas
Image caption Lord Elis-Thomas: "I am a big fan of Channel 4 news"

The standard of Welsh language news coverage has been criticised by the Welsh Government's culture minister.

Lord Elis-Thomas told AMs: "I have no recollection of hearing in-depth news" on Welsh language bulletins.

He was reacting to news that S4C's nightly news programme, Newyddion 9, would be reduced from 30 minutes to 10 minutes on Friday next year.

But he said it was not appropriate to voice an editorial opinion and that S4C is regulated by OFCOM.

Under the schedule changes, Newyddion 9, which is made for S4C by BBC Wales, will also move from its current 9pm to 7:30pm but remain at 30 minutes from Monday to Thursday.

"What is important for me is that news is presented interestingly and I am a big fan of Channel 4 News," Lord Elis-Thomas said.

Plaid Cymru culture spokeswoman Delyth Jewell asked him to withdraw the "belittling and untrue" comments.

"Journalists need support from their culture minister not public undermining," she said.

Newyddion had a high-profile launch when it originally moved from 7:30pm to the 9pm slot in 2013, but S4C has faced a huge growth in demand for TV dramas during peak-time viewing.

S4C said it is confident the earlier slot will boost ratings for its news programme.

"We are confident that setting our flagship news programme in the middle of the evening will attract more attention and viewers to the programme, underlining the importance of news to our schedule," a spokesperson added.

Image caption Newyddion 9 will change its time and be reduced in length on Fridays

Lord Elis-Thomas also told the assembly's culture committee he listened to BBC Radio Wales' breakfast programme in the morning but that he did not wish to comment on the programme.

He said he he had "known the presenter a very long time".

Another Welsh Government minister has previously raised concerns that "no serious news programme" would be broadcast at breakfast time on Radio Wales, under schedule changes at the radio station introduced last week.

Lord Elis-Thomas said it was not his role to be the editor of the programme and he would not "be taking initiatives" on the matter.

Lord Elis-Thomas is a former leader of Plaid Cymru who quit the party in 2016 to sit as an independent assembly member, pledging to support the Labour-led Welsh Government.

The previous First Minister Carwyn Jones appointed him to the junior ministerial post the following year.

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