Thursday, 9 October 2008

Time to move on from ITV

Posted on the Bevan Foundation blog on 9th October 2008

It is sad to witness the slow death of ITV Wales.

Naturally I feel very sorry for the people who are likely to lose their jobs over the next year.

But as a refugee from ITV I don’t entirely swallow the explanations given for pulling out of Welsh news and current affairs.

It has been a badly run company for many years: poor investments and skewed priorities have matched an unimaginative and pedestrian creative culture in the company.

Having made a fortune from its privileged position, ITV now want to be excused from their commitment to provide Welsh programming. And it seems the Government’s ‘light touch’ regulator is happy to go along with it.

The Welsh media is already weak. And there seems little that we can do to prevent it getting weaker.

More than two-thirds of the people living in Wales don't consume Welsh daily news. And it's getting worse.

Just as Wales is becoming a more interesting place to report, fewer people are tuning in to find out what’s going on.

We can create the institutions of a new Welsh democracy but how can we get the people to engage without a vibrant media?

ITV have demonstrated beyond doubt that they don't care about covering Wales. It's time to move on and let them get on with creating a tabloid digital station.

The challenge now is to create a diverse and vibrant Welsh media.

A levy on broadcasters should support regional public service broadcasting across the UK.

Added to that I’d like to see a Welsh equivalent of the Scott Trust – the not for profit foundation that owns the Guardian Media Group. A public interest company that could safeguard local newspapers across Wales to ensure that our culture and politics is reported fairly - because a vibrant media is disproportionately important to us.

It is something I've believed for some time but tonight I noticed that ITV Chairman, Michael Grade, has suggested a not dissimilar scheme for the whole of ITV regional news. The Guradian's Maggie Brown takes a justifiably cynical view. His motives are not difficult to uncover.

Time now for a Welsh solution.

1 comment:

Richard Lewis said...

Couldn't agree more. What's worrying is what effect this will have from a medical prospective.

We know that the majority of Welsh patients still get their 'news' from the UK media. We need to change this because health services in Wales are different.

But, with a cut in the availability, quality and number of hours of 'Welsh' news, it does nothing to reduce confusion amongst patients about what is going on with their health services.