Jobs at Swansea's Bay TV 'cut' by owners That's TV

By Huw Thomas
BBC Wales arts and media correspondent

Image source, Getty Images

The new owners of Swansea's local television station are understood to have dismissed the majority of its staff.

That's TV bought Bay TV in December, and have since removed six of its nine producers and journalists.

The channel began broadcasting in July 2016.

That's TV, which is the UK's largest operator of local TV channels, has been asked to comment.

The station will soon be re-branded That's Swansea Bay and will follow a similar schedule to the other stations owned by That's TV.

Programmes are currently broadcast from offices on the Swansea campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).

Bethan Jenkins, who chairs the assembly's communications committee, said the new owners were not operating "in good faith".

"I was fearful when speaking with staff members over recent weeks that this could be an outcome, and I'm sorry that it's come to this," she said.

"It does seem that That's TV have not operated in good faith with either Bay TV or the university.

"I've been told that That's TV, when taking over, promised no substantive changes, yet that pledge seems to have been reneged quickly. That's TV need to provide an explanation."

When it launched, Bay TV was Wales' second local TV channel and offered a schedule of pre-recorded and live programmes.

It is currently required to broadcast 20 hours a week from Swansea, but the new owners are understood to have applied to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom to reduce that commitment.

Ms Jenkins said the changes at Bay TV amounted to a "dismantling" of the channel.

"Bay TV does provide opportunities for those aspiring to work in broadcasting as well as a good facility and had potential to grow, so it's very disappointing that we have another example of a larger media company taking over and then, essentially, dismantling an independent local media organisation," she added.

In December, the new owners signed a "partnership" agreement with Bay TV's landlords.

A UWTSD spokesman said: "Following Bay TV's recent acquisition by That's Media the university is continuing to work with the station and its Swansea-based journalists to provide opportunities for student placements in Swansea and at the company's other UK stations.

"The university values opportunities for students to work with commercial enterprises to provide graduates with the best preparation for life beyond university."