Sunday, 16 January 2011

Being informed - the case for a Welsh media

It's a fact that only 17% of the population of Wales reads a Welsh-based daily paper, e.g. Daily Post, Western Mail, as opposed to 70% of the Scottish population. This means that many people who consider themselves to be politically aware and even politically involved can be completely ignorant of the subtleties of the Welsh political dimension.
In the past week, I have been in meetings where people have been unaware that the Educational Maintenance Allowance is being retained in Wales or that the proposed counter-revolutionary changes to the NHS in England are not being rolled out in Wales. Now this is straightforward stuff for anyone who reads this blog and others on a regular basis, but that's a minority and unlikely to become a majority anytime soon. Anyone reliant on their news from a London-based newspaper or London-based radio or TV station is unlikely to have realised that the coalition government is only responsible for health and education in England. That ignorance is scary.
So how best to counter it?
The long-term answer is a Welsh media that is more widely read, heard and viewed. The short-term answer is for the English-based media to recognise the reality of devolution and start to explain that the story they're writing about only affects England. This has emerged fitfully with the tuition fees debate, as even the Daily Mail recognised that Wales was doing things differently. But a consistent - and neutral rather than negative - approach to the devolved nations? Dream on.


Johnstown said...

Jeremy Hunt has announced plans for localised TV stations and invited bids. Could this be an opporunity to plug the gaps in local media coverage in Wales?

Plaid Whitegate said...

Hunt has already watered down his initial proposals for 80 local TV stations. It's now 20 and industry insiders reckon that's not commercially viable.
20 in the UK would suggest one in Wales, probably based around Cardiff.
That could turn out to be a total disaster for Wales because these new franchises are being used as a cover for ITV regions to stop providing regional news as part of their contracts.
So no, I don't think Hunt has got the slightest interest in boosting news from Wales for Wales with this move.