The BBC has this week announced that it will be investing an additional £8.5m a year in English language television programmes for Wales. Influenced by various campaigns and a request for more spending in the area, politicians and lobbyists called for an an extra £30m of investment.
Said to be a 50% increase, this money will support new drama, comedy and entertainment programmes, with further details to be announced over the course of the coming weeks.
BBC Director General Tony Hall said:
“BBC Wales has a remarkable creative track record and I know they’ll seize this new opportunity with real relish.”
Lord Hall added that he believed the investment would be “transformational”.
“In areas such as drama, comedy and entertainment, we expect to more than double investment. In news and current affairs, it will help us move faster online and reach out to younger audiences, and provide greater specialist reporting across our output.
“It’s so important that the BBC captures the real diversity of life and experience in Wales, and this investment is a real statement of intent about our ambition to serve all audiences in Wales.”
Looking to give this area of the BBC a complete overhaul, some of the investment will be placed in BBC Wales’ news services, including expansion of BBC Wales’ specialist coverage, as well as its online and mobile facilities.
Expected to generate close to 130 hours of programming, this investment will see more programmes on BBC One Wales, BBC Two Wales as well as BBC iPlayer, with the network eager to boost the portrayal of Welsh life on a much wider scale.
Labour AM Lee Waters, who was director of the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) when this funding was first discussed in 2015, says we are reverting back to spending levels illustrated in the mid-2000s.
“The BBC’s announcement takes it back to the sort of levels they were spending a decade ago, before they started slashing the budget for English language programmes in Wales,” he said.
“I warmly welcome Tony Hall putting an additional £8.5m into programming for Wales by 2020, but it is worth noting that this sits alongside their recent announcement of £9m worth of ‘efficiencies’ in BBC Wales, and falls well short of the additional £20m that the first minister, the Assembly’s culture committee and the IWA’s substantial media audit called for.
“That said, it will deliver improvements on what was planned before pressure was put to bear, and I’m pleased that the ambition is to target the funding on quality programmes that can earn their place on the main BBC network so that Welsh stories can be seen and heard across the UK.”
Wanting to see substantial improvements by the time they move into their new home in Central Square, the next three years will put English language television for Wales as a huge focus for the BBC.