Broadcasting Regulation in Wales

The IWA has released research into broadcasting regulation in Wales

With implications for the content we watch, listen to and enjoy everyday, the future of broadcasting touches upon our collective imagination and identities.

It also presents legislative challenges and powers over public service media are hotly contested, with ongoing discussions at both ends of the M4 about the potential for devolved nations to take ownership of their own broadcasting services.

The IWA has collaborated with Media Cymru researchers Dr Marlen Komorowski and Enrique Uribe-Jongbloed to lead a research project assessing the current state of regulation and accountability for broadcasters in Wales, and surveying the options available for future models of regulation.

Our report

The project was divided into 3 parts:

Part 1

In the first part of this research, we map out current resources available to regulators and policy-makers seeking to transform broadcasting regulations in Wales, with an aim to answer the question: how can Wales get the media it needs? This regulatory map offers solutions beyond a binary opposition of ‘devolution’ and ‘no devolution’, and suggests steps towards an approach to regulation that will make the most of existing policy tools in Wales and the UK. 

You can now read Part 1 of this project here.

Parts 2 and 3

Part 2 of this report consists of four case studies of countries with devolved broadcasting frameworks that provide useful comparisons with Wales. With examples taken from Spain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, we identify various frameworks for shaping the governance of broadcasting and point to the benefits and pitfalls of this approach.

In Spain, some broadcasting powers are devolved to Catalunya, Galicia and the Basque Country, and evidence shows that regional regulators can coexist with a single national regulator. But Spain also demonstrates the danger of political partisanship in regional broadcasting. 

In Germany, powers over public service broadcasting are ‘pooled’ within independent bodies, and this is what the IWA recommends as a potential way forward for Wales. 

Belgium and the Netherlands both provide cautionary tales, with problems including divisions between language communities, completely separate media markets and fragmentation in the population, as well as reduced funding for regional broadcasters. 

Part 3 applies these findings and makes recommendations for regulatory and non-regulatory solutions to the challenges facing Wales. 

Read our report here.

Our Recommendations

Recommendation 1 

The UK Government should transfer some functions relating to broadcasting from DCMS (all appointments to boards governing broadcasters, policy responsibility for commercial broadcasting, and decisions related to the BBC Charter, BBC Agreement and Broadcasting Licence Fee) to: 

(a) Welsh Government


(b) an independent Commission 

Recommendation 2

Welsh Government should set up an Institute for Media in Wales before the end of the current Senedd term in May 2026. It should be independent from governments, and have a remit to serve the interests of citizens and audiences in Wales. 

Parts 2 and 3 of this report were launched on 9 March 2023 with a presentation delivered by authors of the report Dylan Moore, Enrique Uribe-Jongbloed and Dr Marlen Komorowski. You can watch the report launch here or listen to it in podcast format.

The IWA’s research on broadcasting regulations is supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

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