Sunday, 10 August 2008

More Truths from Llangennech


The latest edition of the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) magazine “Agenda” (Summer 2008) contains two articles on this issue. It refers to two related reports that were published earlier this year:

1. “Media in Wales – Serving Public Values” by Geraint Talfan Davies, Chair of the IWA, and Nick Morris, the IWA’s Research Officer. This was published in May 2008.
2. The report of Prof. Anthony King, Professor of Government at Essex University. Prof King’s report contains some evidence collected by the School of Journalism at Cardiff University and by the British Market Research Bureau - a market research company.

Four sets of figures taken from these reports starkly demonstrate the extensive and pervasive neglect of Wales in ostensibly UK-wide media coverage:

(a) Of the people that read daily newspapers in Scotland only 2.7% read newspapers with no Scottish content. The corresponding figure for people in Wales is a staggering 86.9%. This is in large measure because none of the London dailies have Welsh editions. Moreover, only one London newspaper has a correspondent in Wales – the News of the World!
(b) During the period October – November 2007, all 136 stories from the BBC network on health and education (two of the three biggest expenditure headings of the Assembly Government) dealt solely with England.
(c) During a month-long survey in 2007, BBC TV (emanating from London) featured 462 items specifically about either England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. Of these, 415 (89.8%) were about England, 20 (4.3%) featured Scotland, 15 (3.2%) featured Northern Ireland and only 12 (2.6%) were about Wales. For Wales, the corresponding figures for Non-BBC TV, BBC Radio and BBC online were considerably less favourable.
(d) In May 2007 general elections were held for the Scottish and Northern Ireland Parliaments, the Welsh Assembly and there were some local government elections in England as well. Prior to the elections the number and percentage of the BBC’s election features across the four home nations were as follows: Total features 537; Scotland 143 (26.6%), Northern Ireland 107 (19.9%); Wales 66 (12.4%); England 113 (21.0%).

Perhaps even more depressing is the fact that – to quote directly from one of the magazine’s two articles - the BBC has “currently no published plans to improve coverage of Wales.” As far as I am aware no other media
organisation has any improvement plans either. It therefore seems that there is no immediate prospect of this profound information deprivation imposed on the people of Wales being addressed.
I would suggest that a campaign for change, perhaps led by the National Assembly, is long overdue.

Gwyn Hopkins 8/8/2008

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