The media that Wales deserves?

Lee Waters outlines the conclusions of the IWA’s draft Media Audit.

Throughout the past week we have been publishing our draft analysis of the state of main media sectors in Wales. In the spirit of the ‘crowdsourcing’ approach that we have adopted in several of our recent projects we have had valuable feedback on our chapters on the radio industry and the press that we will be incorporating into the final report that we will launch at the Cardiff Media Summit on November 11th.

The analysis we have laid out is sobering. Since the IWA’s last Media Audit in 2008:

  • Spending on English language television by the BBC has been cut by 25%, as has the number of hours produced
  • S4C suffered a 24% cut in its central funding and ITV Wales is broadcasting a diminished service of just now 90 minutes a week on top of its news output
  • There’s been a narrowing of the range of programmes, with genres such as light entertainment, the arts and drama are minimally represented or, in some years, not at all.
  • Local content on commercial radio has been cut as ownership has been consolidated
  • Welsh newspapers have seen a collapse in their print distribution – in common with most modern media markets. Although there are encouraging signs of the growth of online journalism, the commercial pressures on journalism raises question marks about the future of inquiring reporting and its ability to scrutinise Government all levels in Wales.

At a time when Wales is becoming more distinct in policy terms, the ability to reflect and question these changes has diminished considerably and faces further downward pressure. The future of Public Service Broadcasting faces an ideological assault from the BBC’s commercial rivals, ‘light-touch regulators’, and Small State advocates in Government. The place of Public Service Broadcasting could be tested even more ferociously by the rise of the Smart TV; the channels currently given prominence by the Electronic Programme Guide we see when we browse channels don’t appear on Smart TVs and Public Service Broadcasting content is increasingly cumbersome to search out – which will further embolden the troika to weaken PSB further, much to the detriment of Welsh needs.

Rather than wring our hands the IWA Media Audit sets out to accompany an analysis of the trends with a set of suggestions for mitigating them to try and ensure the Welsh media can perform three important functions:

i) to be a constant, inquiring two-way conduit of information, connecting government, civil society and citizens, and

ii) to provide a full reflection of that society to itself – its diversity and creativity, its achievements and failures, its languages and arts, its glories and its foibles.

iii) to enable Wales to represent itself to the rest of the UK

You can read our policy recommendations here.

IWA Wales Media Audit

Last week

Monday: Read Lee Waters’ introduction to the IWA Wales Media Audit

Tuesday: See section 1 of the draft Wales Media Audit in full here. 

Wednesday: Read the Wales Media Audit’s findings on Radio in full. 

Thursday: See the Wales Media Audit’s findings on internet. 

Friday: Read the full draft report on the Press.

This week

Today: Read our policy recommendations.


Lee Waters is IWA Director.

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