Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu - Y Bumed Senedd
Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee - Fifth Senedd26/04/2018
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Bethan Sayed AM||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Jack Sargeant AM|
|Jenny Rathbone AM|
|Neil Hamilton AM|
|Sian Gwenllian AM|
|Suzy Davies AM|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Yr Arglwydd / Lord Elis-Thomas AM||Y Gweinidog Diwylliant, Twristiaeth a Chwaraeon|
|Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport|
|Euros Lewis||Ysgrifennydd Cymdeithas Gydweithredol Radio Beca|
|Secretary of the Radio Beca Co-operative Society|
|Hywel Owen||Arweinydd Tîm Polisi'r Cyfryngau, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Media Policy Team Leader, Welsh Government|
|Lowri Jones||Arweinydd Tîm Cymell a Hwyluso, Radio Beca|
|Motivation and Facilitation Team Leader, Radio Beca|
|Marc Webber||Uwch Ddarlithydd mewn Newyddiaduraeth a'r Cyfryngau|
|Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Media|
|Martin Mumford||Rheolwr Gyfarwyddwr, Nation Broadcasting|
|Managing Director, Nation Broadcasting|
|Mel Booth||Rheolwr Gyfarwyddwr Cymru, Global Radio|
|Managing Director Wales, Global Radio|
|Neil Sloan||Pennaeth Rhaglenni, Communicorp UK|
|Head of Programming, Communicorp UK|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Lowri Harries||Dirprwy Glerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:02.
The meeting began at 09:02.
Diolch, a chroeso i'r Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu. Eitem 1: cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau. A oes gan unrhyw Aelod Cynulliad rywbeth i'w ddatgan? Na.
Rydym wedi cael ymddiheuriadau heddiw gan Rhianon Passmore a gan Mick Antoniw, ac nid ydynt wedi anfon unrhyw ddirprwyon.
Thank you, and welcome to the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee. The first item is introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest. Do any Assembly Members have any declarations of interests to make? No.
We have received apologies this morning from Rhianon Passmore and from Mick Antoniw, and they have not sent any substitutes on their behalf.
Rydym yn symud ymlaen felly at eitem 2: radio yng Nghymru, sesiwn dystiolaeth 5. Hoffwn i groesawu ein tystion yma heddiw. Y panel yw: Marc Webber, uwch-ddarlithydd mewn newyddiaduraeth a'r cyfryngau; Martin Mumford, rheolwr gyfarwyddwr yn Nation Broadcasting Limited; Mel Booth, rheolwr gyfarwyddwr Cymru, Global Radio; a Neil Sloan, pennaeth rhaglenni, Communicorp UK. Diolch i chi i gyd am ddod mewn atom heddiw. Mae gennym ni fformat—os yw hynny'n iawn—lle rydym ni'n gofyn cwestiynau ar wahanol themâu. Felly, ewn ni'n syth mewn i'r cwestiynau, a bydd siawns i chi godi unrhyw faterion yn hynny o beth. Felly, rydym ni'n symud ymlaen nawr at Siân Gwenllian.
We move on to item 2: radio in Wales, evidence session 5. I'd like to welcome our witnesses here today. The panel includes: Marc Webber, senior lecturer in journalism and media; Martin Mumford, managing director at Nation Broadcasting Limited; Mel Booth, managing director for Wales, Global Radio; and Neil Sloan, head of programming, Communicorp UK. Thank you all for joining us today. We have a set format—if that is all right—where we ask questions on different themes. So, we'll go straight into those questions, and you'll have an opportunity to raise any issues in that regard. So, we move on now to Siân Gwenllian.
Bore da. Mi wnaf i gychwyn efo effaith refeniw isel radio masnachol lleol yng Nghymru ar gynnwys lleol yng Nghymru. Beth ydy effaith y ffaith fod y refeniw yn isel? Mi wnaf i ddechrau efo rhywun o'r diwydiant a wedyn, efallai, ddod at Marc. Pwy sydd am ddechrau?
Good morning. I'll start with the impact of the low revenue of local commercial radio in Wales on local content in Wales. What is the impact of the fact that the revenue is low? If I could start from someone from the industry and then perhaps come to Marc for a response. Who'd like to start?
Do you want me to start?
You don't all have to answer every question.
No, just for you to know.
I think commercial radio is obviously led by the advertising revenues that we generate from our activity. To say that that is a challenge I think would be an understatement at this moment in time. I think the whole panel would agree that we do everything we possibly can to generate as much revenue as we possibly can from the local marketplace, and we do look at our programming and our ability to connect with the local marketplace, and the different types of programming and opportunities we offer in order to be able to generate a significant amount of revenue, as much as we possibly can do. But the constraints of that are quite significant.
I'm assuming you're basing that on low revenue per head of population in Wales.
Yes, in Wales.
So, part of that is a lack of competition—certain FM frequencies went to Bristol, for example, instead of areas like Newport—and part of that is that there's no local commercial radio station in parts of Wales such as Powys. And, indeed, the Valleys lost its commercial station some years ago. So, that does contribute to the stat, I think, that you've started with. Because at Nation Broadcasting our revenues have been rising consistently over the last few years.
But what effect does it have—? Okay, they are rising, but it's still, compared to other parts of the UK, low in Wales, isn't it? So, what effect does that have on the local content?
Well, we always shape our business based on the revenues that we get. So, could every radio station on air be better if more money was spent on its programming? Well, of course it could. But, equally, we've got to cut our cloth to fit.
I'd just slightly echo something that Martin's just spoken about in terms of the competition or the plurality of opportunities to start a commercial radio station in Wales. The door shuts now on FM licences; Ofcom has made a UK-wide decision that you cannot start a new commercial radio licence, because they want to push people towards DAB. I've written in my submission, actually, that, to my knowledge, from Ofcom and Radiocentre data, the amount of revenue generated in Wales has actually risen by £1 million in the past year. So, that would imply to me, as well as the healthy audience figures that we see for radio, per se, in Wales, that actually that's not a bad business to be in.
As I also say in my written submission, I have my concerns—and partly coming off where Martin has come off, and it will be a theme of what I discuss in the next few minutes—that we do not have a plurality of commercial radio stations in Wales, because I think there has been a chance for two radio groups—and I will be nice about them, genuinely; they're sitting next to me now—to basically take the majority of the market in both listenership and frequencies. Now, to be clear, I do not blame Global and I do not blame Communicorp for buying licences and doing their business. That's their job. I actually, genuinely believe there's been a market failure in commercial radio in Wales, and I believe that's down to Ofcom. I believe that Ofcom have not looked at the rules that are passed down, UK wide, from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and do not look at how that has played out in the various nations of the UK.
So, if you look at Northern Ireland, for example, they're under the same broadcasting rules as us, their revenue from local radio continues to rise, but with only 1.5 million population they have 11 local radio stations to choose from. The majority of them, if not all of them, are 24/7 run from Northern Ireland with Northern Irish voices and Northern Irish people on them, whereas in Wales, the majority of the radio listening that occurs is done to output that's from London, so it's either BBC Radio 2 or it's Heart or Capital in their various forms, with the majority of the programming networked from London. So, I think the reason there's a concern about revenue—and I think revenue in commercial radio in Wales could be far higher—is because, actually, there is a lack of genuine local revenue opportunities for local businesses, beyond breakfast and drive, on quite a few, or the biggest, commercial radio groups in Wales.
And your response to that.
I think it's worth pointing out that the actual media landscape has changed significantly in the last 10 to 15 years, so it's not just about whether people are spending advertising money on radio. There's a huge choice now where advertisers can reach target demographic audiences. So, they have a real ability, a real ease, to be able to buy around commercial radio.
And, of course, on the point that Marc makes about the audience not listening to a local output because the actual broadcast is not transmitted locally, I don't think that really carries a great deal of significance or weight. When you look at Heart, and if you look at the Global brands, we offer national brands that are delivered locally. If you look at the penetration of the actual audience delivery in Wales for the Global brands—and there are obviously various Global brands outside of Heart—over 45 per cent of people who live in Wales consume a Global brand at some point during the week, which says to me that we are delivering a positive service, delivering a positive product that is being listened to very highly. So, I can understand the point that Marc's making, but the audience figures would say, 'We actually are enjoying the product that you are delivering', albeit that some of that output comes locally, and some of that output comes from a central source. It is actually delivering over 45 per cent of the population of Wales, who are tuning into a Global brand. So, that actual strategy of a brand that is a national brand delivered locally is actually working, and working very well.
Yes, I'd just like to add that Mel makes a very good point—that, actually, Heart and Capital's competitors now are not necessarily Swansea Sound or, to a certain extent, Nation Radio. There's Spotify, and they are podcasting, and people in Wales are actively choosing to plug their iPhones into their car stereos every morning and ignoring any FM signal at all. I think that's something that I'm absolutely conscious about: that if we talk about how we make Heart more Welsh, or Global more Welsh, let's talk about how we make Spotify more Welsh as well, because that's the next generation of our audience.
It's a fair point, and I think—
Yes, it's a good point. I completely agree.
My children do that, unfortunately.
Ie. Felly, y broblem ydy, os ydym ni yn mynd i gael mwy o ddadreoleiddio ar radio masnachol, mae'r broblem o'r diffyg cynnwys lleol—mae peryg o hynny'n mynd yn waeth.
Yes. Therefore, the problem is, if we are to have further deregulation of commercial radio, then the problem of the lack of local content is going to get worse.
Rwy'n cytuno. Rwyf eisiau gweld pam mae mor anodd i wneud cynnwys lleol, ac yn enwedig, ar gyfer y dyfodol, y podlediadau a phethau fel Spotify. Mae'n rhaid i rywun yn y wlad yma greu cynnwys ar gyfer Spotify a phodlediadau ar gyfer y dyfodol. Rwy'n credu bod yna fusnes yng Nghymru i rywun—ac rwy'n edrych at y dynion yma, a'r cwmnïau yma, sydd yn dal yma yn creu pethau awdio ar hyn o bryd yng Nghymru—i drosglwyddo'r sgiliau yma i'r podlediadau a'r dechnoleg newydd.
Ynglŷn â'r iaith Gymraeg, mae yna sefyllfa ddiddorol efo'r iaith Gymraeg achos bod y rhan fwyaf o bobl yn meddwl nad yw radio annibynnol yn creu cynnwys Cymraeg, neu'n creu tipyn bach o gynnwys Cymraeg. Ond mae yna lot o raglenni Cymraeg ar radio annibynnol ar hyn o bryd, er enghraifft Capital Cymru. Mae Sain Abertawe a Radio Ceredigion yn dal i greu rhaglenni Cymraeg, ac maen nhw'n creu tua 80 awr bob wythnos o raglenni yn Gymraeg. Nawr, mae hyn bron yn agosáu at y nifer o oriau y mae BBC Radio Cymru yn eu creu bob wythnos. Felly, fel ag y mae, mae yna wasanaeth gwahanol yn y Gymraeg ar gael nawr, ond y broblem yw bod y cynnwys yn cael ei greu gan dri neu bedwar cwmni annibynnol sydd ddim yn gweithio efo'i gilydd i farchnata ei gilydd, ac nid oes un lle i fynd i wrando ar bob rhaglen sydd ar gael. Rwy'n bendant bod yna farchnad ar gyfer gorsaf radio annibynnol Gymraeg, ac rwy'n bendant y byddai'n llwyddiannus. Rwy'n credu y bydd o leiaf un neu ddau o bobl yma yn gallu dechrau'r broses honno i greu hynny, achos rwy'n bendant yn credu, efallai drwy'r system Radioplayer neu rywbeth fel hynny, bod yna fusnes i greu rhywbeth gwahanol a masnachol drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg.
I agree. I want to see why it's difficult to include local content, and particularly, for the future, things like podcasts and things such as Spotify. Someone in this nation has to create content for Spotify and podcasts for the future, and I think that there is a business in Wales for someone—and I look to these colleagues here, and these companies who are creating audio content at the moment in Wales—to transfer those skills to the podcasts and to new technologies.
With regard to the Welsh language, there's an interesting situation with regard to the Welsh language, because the majority of people think that independent radio doesn't create Welsh-language content, or very little. However, there are many Welsh-medium programmes on independent radio, such as Capital Cymru. Swansea Sound and Radio Ceredigion are creating Welsh language programmes, and they create around 80 hours a week of programmes in Welsh. Now, this is approaching the number of hours that BBC Radio Cymru creates every week. So, there is a different service in Welsh available now, but the problem is that the content is created by three or four independent companies that aren't working together to market themselves, and there's no one place that one can go to to listen to all of the programmes that are available. I am certain that there's a market for an independent radio station through the medium of Welsh, and I'm certain that it would be successful. I'm sure that at least one or two people here would be able to start that process to create that, because I am certain that, perhaps through the Radioplayer system or something like that, there is a business there to create something different and commercially successful through the medium of Welsh.
Beth am yr her y mae Marc yn ei osod rwan o ran rhaglenni cynnwys Cymraeg, ac a all y diwydiant sydd yma yng Nghymru yn barod ymateb i'r her, ond hefyd y syniad o gael newyddion o Gymru? Hwn ydy ein pryder mawr ni, fel pwyllgor, rydw i'n meddwl: bod y cynnwys o Gymru yn cael ei golli oherwydd y pwysau masnachol sydd arnoch chi. A oes yna le i chi fod yn arwain yng Nghymru, a dyfeisio ffyrdd y gallwch chi fod yn cyflwyno newyddion o Gymru ar eich sianeli chi—ac ar y podlediadau ac ar y platfformau newydd sydd yn datblygu?
What about the challenge set down by Marc there in terms of Welsh-language content? Can the industry already established here in Wales respond to that challenge—but also this idea of having Welsh news? Because this is our major concern, as a committee, I think: that the content from Wales is being diluted because of the commercial pressures on you. Is there scope for you to be taking a lead in Wales, and to be finding new ways in which you can present Welsh news on your platforms, and on those podcasts and the new platforms that are developing?
Can I just check that you mean news about Wales rather than news in the Welsh language?
Well, both. Deal with them separately if you like.
I have to say, unfortunately, I don't agree with Marc's analysis about the viability of a Welsh-language-only commercial radio station, but that's a gut feel—
But what about content in the Welsh language?
I think I can do better on the second part of the question. I think it's a massive deficiency in current regulation that news specific to the region is not viewed by Ofcom as relevant local content on our services. It's something that, at Nation Broadcasting, we looked at carefully, and we took it on ourselves to create a bulletin called News for Wales, which we get no credit for from a regulatory perspective. And, actually, I think that the market's already providing a great deal of content around Wales, not because we have to, but because it's the right thing to do in terms of the audiences that we broadcast to.
Is it a commercial venture for you?
Well, no, because you can't sponsor the news on commercial radio; it's something you have to provide.
No, no, I mean in terms of getting an audience; is it commercially the correct thing to do, to put the emphasis on local Welsh news?
If we go back to the original question, or part of your question, at the beginning—sorry, I'll just cut across—you talked about the loyalty and the value of commercial radio and the growth of commercial radio, or the growth of radio, and I think that the listener, clearly from a research point of view, has said that radio is a valued medium—a trusted, valued medium—and one of the key and core drivers for that trust and value is news and traffic and travel.
So, from a local point of view, from a local station point of view, being able to produce, as Global produces, 29,000 news bulletins per year—of which 3,000 of those are in the Welsh language—supports this belief and desire and absolute fact that we are a trusted medium delivered via because of the quality of the news output. So, for us, from a Global Radio perspective, it's critically important that our news comes locally, is delivered locally, is sourced locally, and is all about the local marketplace—be that north Wales or south Wales—and, where appropriate, and where possible, it will be in the Welsh language.
I guess the other point about deregulation is that it's paving the way for a DAB switchover. So, it's creating parity between the FM licences and the DAB licences. Because currently, the DAB licences don't have any news or information requirements whatsoever. You can have a DAB station with none of that on. So, it creates a parity so that in the future, the DAB stations will be regulated and will have to carry news and information. In that sense, it's protecting that as we look forward to the future, whenever that switchover may be.
I guess the other point about deregulation is: just because you can do something, it doesn't mean you will. We have no current ambition to change our local broadcasting output when legislation is passed. The legislation is of the output, not of the input, but as it stands, it paves the way for a very exciting future, and I don't think it's something to be scared of.
Maybe we could have a note on how you actually produce the local content. I think that would be useful, for us to know how all that operation works. Is it different from region to region?
I think it's different from supplier or operator. Global has two news hubs. We have a news hub in north Wales and a news hub in south Wales, just over the road. We have seven journalists who are based over here, and they will go into the marketplace and they will source news. I'm sure you've spoken to some of them yourselves, you're familiar with their faces, and we will do that news in that manner.
I wonder if I might just go back to Martin Mumford, please, and the answers you've given to Siân there. You mentioned that you didn't think that a commercial radio through the medium of Welsh was viable, full stop. I'm quite curious to know why you didn't rebid for the Radio Ceredigion licence.
And my second question is: I was pleased to hear that you have your Welsh news section, if you like, but in your evidence, you stated that
'There should be equal status for UK nations with no additional news/programming burden.'
I presume that means news and programming about Wales. Why do you think that's a burden?
Well, let me take your first question first, on Radio Ceredigion. We will be bidding for Radio Ceredigion's licence; it's currently being advertised by Ofcom. We've made a decision not to go through what's called a fast-track process. So, we do still want to retain a service in Ceredigion. It's difficult for me to talk about that today because it's part of a competitive process, potentially.
Why did you decide not to go through the fast-track process?
We felt that the market economics in Ceredigion, which is one of the smallest licensed radio stations in the UK, were fundamentally changing with the potential launch of a community radio service in that area. It's something we've been consistently saying to Ofcom for a number of years, but they have licensed a community service and we think that the economics of that area in terms of available audience and available revenue, will fundamentally change with the launch of that station, and that is the reason why we've not gone through the fast-track process. Again, I've got to be quite careful, because we're into a beauty parade, a competitive process. So, in terms of what our plans are, that's something we'd have to revisit in a few months' time.
All right, I understand. Thank you for that.
Secondly, I think that there are two key points I'd pick up on on the second part of your question. The first is that I fundamentally agree with Neil that just because you can do something or indeed, in certain cases, you don't have to do something, doesn't mean you won't. And there are numerous examples that I'm sure we can all point to of things that we do, not because we're regulated to do them, but because it's a way of building audiences and revenue, and there are numerous examples at Nation Broadcasting.
You picked out a form of words or a sentence from my submission; I think the point that we've consistently tried to stress is that there is a danger, if you over-regulate or if you create an uneven playing field between the nations, that you may end up, actually, with a perverse outcome, perhaps, from your perspective—that you end up with fewer people wanting to do business here or set up a radio company here and the market becomes worse, not better, as a result. So, I think that's what I was driving at, through that submission.
Right, okay. Thank you.
Thanks, Chair. Welcome, guys. A couple of things to pick up on. When mentioning the Welsh language content, Siân picked up on it before, and one of the things Mark said was about the independent radio station. I know that Martin didn't agree with that, specifically. But, firstly, I wondered whether the other two panelists agreed with that. Is there a need for it and is that something we should be looking at or not?
The BBC, as the public service broadcaster, does a fantastic job of representing the Welsh language, and from a commercial radio point of view, the guys at Global produce Capital Cymru. So, there is a version of Capital that you can get digitally, with a large proportion of the output in Welsh. So, there are options available for Welsh language commercial radio people to seek out. They may not be on the traditional FM frequencies, but they are there, currently. And so, with the digital platforms, in the world we live in these days, things don't have to be just on FM, especially for the young audience, to reach them, I would say.
Yes, I totally agree.
Just taking that a step further and looking at—[Inaudible.]—the likes of Spotify and Apple Music and streaming sites and so on, what is the commercial radio industry doing to attract more people to the radio, because, in the digital age that we live in, it is easier for many people to just stream off their phones and pick stuff up? Is there a plan of attack to bring people back to the radio stations, or is there, specifically on the Welsh language content side, a need, or are you looking at creating podcasts and separate things to stream in the Welsh language?
I think from a product—. Launching products to attract and bring the youth listener back into listening to radio is driven via podcasts and it's driven via visual material. So, if you look at most of our brands now, in fact, all of our brands have some link to social media, and therefore will be producing visual material that you can view on a streaming device, so that you are connecting people to your brand either via a phone or an iPad, to watch or listen to that clip or that link and see what's going on from an audio point of view. So, we're linking people in that way.
It's not necessarily about whether you're listening on a single FM frequency, you might be streaming. So, you're listening to the brand, but on a streaming platform as opposed to an FM platform. And, of course, as Neil has talked about, where appropriate, we will be doing it in the Welsh language, but it'll all come down to the commercial viability of that and the appropriate audience delivery.
Thank you. Just finally, Mark, you touched on the difference between Wales and Northern Ireland and so on, do you think additional regulation within Wales and, specifically more, probably, when we switch over to DAB—we've got an opportunity there to add additional regulations—do you think that's required and, if so, what would that regulation look like?
Well, I look at the UK-wide regulations that have been applied by Ofcom and the DCMS, and there is only one nation amongst the constituent parts of the UK where I see market failure, and it's Wales. I don't see it in Scotland, I don't see it in England—I think that's because of the volume of people—and I don't see it in Northern Ireland. I am a believer—. I mean, when people ask me, 'Should we devolve broadcasting to Wales?', I say, 'What do you mean by that?' I would mean in this case that I think there need to be some special measures put in that allow further competition in the commercial radio market in Wales and allow things that have been, in my view, holding back the development of Welsh language radio in commercial radio, normally the transmitter costs, which I'm sure these guys to my right will tell you have been a killer on FM for a number of years—
We'll come on to that.
Once we get over that bridge, if Wales had the ability to manipulate the current laws, I think that would be good enough, that would be my answer.
I just wanted to carry on with just one question on what, Marc, you said in your evidence. I'm trying to understand more about the removal of regulation of music formats and non-news provision. You say,
'The decision by the Global/Communicorp group to cut local investment in content has led to a race to the bottom by the other groups that remain in Wales.'
Could you just expand on that and then perhaps get a reaction from those in the industry?
Absolutely. There's been a lot of talk in this inquiry so far, and rightly so, about the concern about how news is disseminated and information is disseminated, either from the Assembly or any other part of Wales, and getting news right for the people of Wales and delivering that. I have had as big a fear, if you like, about the cultural and jobs impact on Wales, which I raise in my submission.
On the cultural side, look, Wales isn't just—as much as I'm sure we'd all like to believe—the Welsh Assembly. There's rugby, there are people, there are jobs, there are communities, there's crime, there are stories. More importantly, as well, there are music and culture. And I think what, unfortunately, has happened because of—what I worry about, with the deregulation of music formats, is there will be less requirement to create shows based in Cardiff where you listen to people who walk down the street with you. It doesn't really matter what their accent is and whether they were born in England or whatever. I just don't get a sense, sometimes, from those networks specifically, that I am listening to something that is about Wales, about me, in that area. I have two shows a day that are from Cardiff or Wrexham, and then the rest is delivered to me from London. So, I think the Welsh culture and who we are and walking around are missing as a result of various deregulations over time.
The music one—I think there are better people than me to talk about. But, look, Wales produces a lot of music in the English language and the Welsh language. I'll leave the guys—well, they probably won't know the answer to this, but when was the last time a Welsh song was played on Heart FM? When was the last time? It was probably Tom Jones on Time Tunnel, and there are more modern bands in Wales. Are they getting the crack, are they getting the chance to break through on that national brand? If Red Dragon were still alive down the road, or if Swansea Sound were stronger, people would just walk in with a demo tape and hand it in.
So, can I hear from you guys what you think about that?
I would come to that with—. So, from our point of view, Capital in south Wales in particular, the landscape's changed over the last 20 years. We can't go back to Red Dragon days, but the station we operate now is embedded in the total survey area. I would counter it's probably as reflective, if not more so than Red Dragon was in its heyday, because if there is a major event happening, we're a part of it. We have good relationships with people like the Welsh Rugby Union and we cover rugby matches. We partnered with the Union of European Football Associations for the Champions League last year; we work with Cardiff council on many of their events. I could go on—
Pardon? Music? I was coming on to that. I said I could go on, I will. We ran a talent search last year called Spotlight for upcoming new musicians in the TSA of Cardiff, Newport and surrounding areas, and a chap called Kieran Marsh won, who is 17. He won a prize package to go on to write, record and release his first single, which we had supported on Capital. So, that was a fantastic opportunity for us to really nail our colours to the mast, saying 'This is what Capital does in this area supporting youth music development.' Our presenters do walk the streets. They live and breathe the air in south Wales, and we target the hard-to-reach 15 to 34s and engage them with the local news, travel, information, and more importantly the content—not more importantly, equally as importantly. But the content is not something that is as heavily regulated as the news and information, but the stuff that we talk about on a daily basis to these young audiences that we're attracting is something that the BBC and BBC radio certainly doesn't do. So, as much as, as I said, deregulation paves the way for us to change that, we have no ambition to do that. Why would we?
Ocê. Unrhyw un arall?
Okay. Anyone else?
I completely agree. I don't recognise part of what's been said. I think Nation Broadcasting in particular, we've ploughed a slightly different furrow to the national brands. Almost all of our programming is generated from Wales, and we still, in Pembrokeshire, for example, on a Sunday night, run a local music show—not because we have to, but because we do. Actually, that generation of local content, whether it's a music show, or traffic and travel, or local events information that we broadcast every hour on our local services, I recognise that as our future, because our future might not be broadcasting on FM or DAB, particularly if there are driverless cars going everywhere—we'll be watching a screen instead of the road. So, actually, the generation of what's happening in my area, whether that's news or content, is still something that's going to be valuable, I believe, to consumers in 20, 30 years' time, when the method of our current business model might be completely different.
Rydym ni'n symud ymlaen nawr at—unless bod rhywun arall eisiau gofyn am radio masnachol. Na? Fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen at radio cymunedol, felly. Suzy.
We move on then, unless anyone else wants to ask about commercial radio. No? So, moving on to community radio, then. Suzy.
Yes. So, are you happy to answer some questions on community radio, as you're commercial radio? You mentioned it your evidence, so I'm hoping you will. I'm sorry to draw on your evidence again, Martin, but you mentioned in your evidence that community stations should be free to become wholly commercial services, and in your earlier answer you said it does affect how you operate as well. Do you want to expand on that a little bit?
I think it's very difficult in certain areas to see the difference between a local commercial radio station and a community radio station. This is again actually around the model that we've chosen to run in Nation Broadcasting. Unlike almost everywhere else in the UK, we've kept the heritage brands in the counties—Radio Pembrokeshire, Radio Carmarthenshire. So, when we see community radio stations launch, actually I think there should be a level playing field there. They're on FM, they're trying to gain audience. In some cases they're prevented, currently, from gaining revenue, but actually we'd quite like to run some community radio licences. We are already running, in my view, community stations in certain areas of Wales. So I just don't see these as two completely different sectors, but then I don't particularly view—. The BBC is organised differently, but when you're presented with a radio and you've got a choice of what you want to listen to, people don't in their heads think, 'I want to listen to my community radio station today' or 'the BBC'; they choose a radio station they want to listen to because they like the output that they hear. It's very odd that we're all regulated in completely different ways.
So, that's the frustration for me. I know the fund for community radio isn't running in Wales anymore. It was a frustration for me that, actually, as a local, commercial licensee, I'd have quite liked to have been able to access that fund to improve some of the areas of programming that perhaps you think are deficient, because I've got a much bigger audience that, potentially, that could reach, and have great value, and that is one method in which some of the areas that perhaps you're looking to address could be addressed. Perhaps commercial radio could step in and create different things, whether that's Welsh language programming in a pooled way, or a news service that's available to commercial radio and community radio in Wales.
That doesn't happen at all at the moment, where commercial operators produce content for community radio, does it?
Not to my knowledge, no.
Okay, thank you. That was a very helpful answer. Are you pretty much of the same mind? Do you see community radio as a threat or a little brother?
I think from a Global point of view, we don't see it as a threat, because we want all radio to succeed. I don't necessarily agree with Martin's opinion in one area, and that is how it's treated differently, because predominantly, community radio stations are staffed by volunteers, and therefore the mechanism of their funding needs to be considered differently to a professional radio station that employs people. So, I think there is a need for it to be considered differently.
I was just going to say I would agree with Mel's point. I think that it's very important that there is a distinction because I think they should be protected for what community radio does. Communicorp fully supports it and I think that, actually, what the community radio station does, the clue's in the title—it's for the community—so it shouldn't, in my opinion, be swallowed up by commercial stations, because then you're just extending the reach of commercial stations and not having that distinction.
Are you worried about any potential lifting of the financial restrictions?
That's good to hear.
I think my answer about Ceredigion earlier perhaps indicates where we are on that, but that's very specific to that market.
I understand it was one incident, which is a little unfair.
You mentioned the community radio fund. Do you think it should be reinstated, or is it just another thing that makes the playing field less level?
Coming back to your previous point, if the restrictions are removed from how much revenue can come in, to be then having support from another angle is a bit incongruous. So, I think it should be that you can have one or the other. We can't go, 'Yes, you can make as much money as you want but, here, have some more as well'. So, I think—
It depends what they're putting out.
Of course, but I think the concern is that if community radio stations are given carte blanche to, essentially, turn themselves into commercial radio stations, then the line blurs the other way. So, that's just the distinction to be mindful of, I think.
I think a contestable public service broadcasting fund would potentially be better value for money if the money existed; I don't believe it does now.
Can I just add there we've had a letter from the UK Government, and there is a UK Government community radio fund, which is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and it's been increased to £400,000 per year. So, if there's a concern, why, you know—. You've said, 'I would like to apply for it'—it seems that it already exists, albeit it's been cut in Wales.
As a commercial licensee, we couldn't apply for that funding. I'm just making the point that I think, potentially, a contestable public service broadcasting fund might deliver better value. That's that.
Okay, thank you. I just want to ask very briefly about the—. Obviously, community radio listernership isn't counted—maybe this is one for Mark, actually. Do you think that's a problem?
Yes, I think it's a big problem, because as I've cited in my evidence, however much we like what community radio does and we see the potential in it—and the potential, I think, is shared by everybody here—we don't genuinely know how well community radio stations in Wales are doing. We have, obviously, technology now where you can do a digital survey and count how many are on your webstream, but if these guys are able to prove their worth in a mixed market economy, they need to be measured in exactly, holistically, the same way as the big radio groups and the BBC are, which is by the Radio Joint Audience Research. It is a disappointment to me that RAJAR have set the financial bar too high for individual community radio stations to sign up. I understand, sort of, the points that they put back, which is, 'Obviously, if we're surveying a smaller area, there are data worries about the level of the security of that data', and also they might have to put an extra survey team into that area. I understand the cost on that. I don't think it's onerous if it's shared, and I think, whilst we can't level out or we can't measure the value of community radio against the stations sitting here and the BBC, it's pretty hard to say whether it has got any worth at all.
I was going to say, surely, it's going to be difficult for them to compete for advertising if they didn't—.
Anyway, my final question—thank you, Chair—is about transmission costs, both for community radio and—well, we may as well talk about it—for commercial radio. I've got a sense you're dying to, so what have you got to say about transmission costs and how they're killing you?
I think the answer is 'yes'. They are extremely extortionate and, obviously, part of the deregulation will allow groups to invest where they see best fits, but, obviously, the regulation costs and your transmission costs are the two biggest costs that we as a sector bear. If we can, obviously, reduce any of those, it makes good sense to be able then to reinvest said finance into quality of product, news output et cetera, and therefore giving the best product to our listener.
I mentioned the DAB switchover area, and I think we are some way away from obtaining a big enough DAB coverage across all of Wales for that to become viable, because compared to our FM transmitters, the example I gave in the evidence is that our Heart north Wales station has eight FM transmitters that covers a potential population of just over 700,000. Our sister station in the north-west, in Manchester and surrounding areas, has one transmitter that covers 5.6 million people. So, the topography of the landscape is prohibitive, which increases the transmission costs. So, that's the concern about the DAB future—that the infrastructure isn't there yet in order for us to be even considering that kind of move at this point.
I better take that one because I'm responsible for some of that DAB coverage because we have shareholdings in three of the multiplex co-operators in Wales, three of the five. I've seen in the Government ministerial submission later that they're looking for a 97 per cent coverage before switchover. I think, in the same way that broadband provision was very difficult in parts of mid Wales in particular, so were delivering local DAB services, which, in the context of Wales, includes BBC Radio Wales, and BBC Radio Cymru, I think that's going to be extremely challenging. So, we've met our obligations to build transmitters out in these areas, but we've hit the buffers in Aberystwyth, for example, where it's not economically viable for us to launch a DAB transmitter in that area, and I believe the same would apply to Powys, for example.
So, we're not going to get to 97 per cent on our own. Either the BBC's going to have to do it, which is publicly funded, or there's going to have to be some other mechanism. But local DAB is actually quite fragile. The multiplexes, potentially, could collapse if they're forced to provide in areas that are uneconomic, are not going to be funded commercially, and they also could collapse if, as it seems we're going to, we're going to move on and license a load of even smaller scale DAB areas, which are adding to areas that already have local coverage. We haven't dealt with the first problem before moving on to the second, which is common in terms of regulation, because we're a long way behind where we all thought we'd be, which is why we're all paying currently for two sets of transmitters here. We're at least 10 years behind where perhaps we would have expected to be. There's no actual FM switchover date set. But when I started my career 20 years ago, we were talking about FM switchover, and we still are.
I think it's getting closer, isn't it?
Suzy, os nad wyt ti'n meindio, mae gan Neil Hamilton gwestiwn byr.
Suzy, if you don't mind, Neil Hamilton has a quick question.
Dim problem o gwbl.
No problem at all.
I'd just like to get some idea of what sort of figures we're talking about here. You just mentioned one case of Aberystwyth. What are the numbers involved in setting up these transmission stations? If the Government were to intervene or provide some funding to plug the gaps that you've just been referring to, what sort of figures would we be talking about in Wales?
I think I'd have to come back to you on that particularly, because, in many cases, there's a single transmission provider. So, you're actually dealing in terms of finances—it would be quite difficult. But in Aberystwyth, which is a great example, we've got a deficiency in the way that Ofcom have previously licensed radio stations, so that if we were to launch local DAB in Aberystwyth, it would be part of the mid and west Wales multiplex, which means, technically, the wrong version of Heart would be carried into that area. So, every way you look at it, it becomes really difficult. But in terms of a general financial model to get us to 97 per cent in those areas, I'd need to come back to you.
Okay, thank you.
I think my question about transmission costs can be wrapped up with the DAB question with Jenny.
Okay. Just before I pass to Jenny, I wanted to ask Marc quickly on the RAJAR issue. We had Steve Johnson in from the University of South Wales, and he was saying that community radios don't talk to each other because they're busy and because they're running on a treadmill to try and keep it up and going. I asked him then as well whether they would be able to pool funding to be able to apply for, or to be part of RAJAR, because then they're not paying on their own. And he said, 'Well, we haven't even had a discussion about this.' So, I was just wondering whether you thought, instead of a potential subsidy or a handout from Government, whether the sector could talk to each other about this.
I'm not a person saying that anybody should be given a Government handout or an Assembly handout for that RAJAR situation. If that money is available, great, but I don't think it's the way it should go. The two issues I would say about that is, yes, there is a problem of co-working between the community radio stations, and, actually, one thing I definitely think this Assembly inquiry could do is find and suggest ways of facilitating them, helping them to work together. I know you've already suggested attending meetings and stuff like that, which is great. Any power that you guys can give to marketing that group of people and supporting that group of people, morally more than financially, if you like, would be great. Fundamentally, though, RAJAR is a body that is owned by the BBC and commercial radio stations, and I believe neither of those groups are interested in having community radio on that measurement spectrum, and will set the bar as high as possible to stop community radio from having access to that.
Does anyone want to counter that now that you've said it?
To an extent, this is a bit of a red herring because community radio stations are incredibly small. I run some very small local radio stations. The reason we're in RAJAR is to access national advertising. National advertisers have very specific ways that they want to purchase and have reporting around their advertising. It's a completely different type of business to knocking on a local business person's door in Wales and selling radio advertising. So, in some of our smallest stations, the cost of the survey is roughly equivalent to what we receive in national advertising. I think, from a commercial perspective, community radio may not like what the result would be if they were able to access RAJAR. It would be uneconomic. Now, the one thing they would have, of course, is some audience figures that would be comparable with commercial radio, but I don't think necessarily that route for community radio is really going to be paved with gold for them.
But you said earlier that you think that they're doing quite a lot of the same things as you. If you think that, then surely they should be measured in the same way, because your argument would be stronger then I think, because at the moment you haven't got that fair analysis to make with them.
Sure. I'm not responsible for running radio—it's a deadlock company, as Marc's just said between the BBC and commercial radio, so it's something you'd have to take to the RAJAR board. I don't believe that there's a deliberate prevention. I suppose I'm just saying, 'Well, RAJAR's just the first step', but to accept national advertising, you have to have an awful lot of verification systems in place to deliver that pound. Every time we don't deliver an impact, we don't get paid for the order. So, it's one step on a journey that actually I'm not sure derives a notional profit, the smaller the size of station you've got. And I know that because I run some small radio stations.
Just on that point, if I could just comment on something Suzy said earlier that it would be helpful or useful to have an audience number for a community radio station. I think we need to remember that, from an advertiser's point of view, advertisers will only come back if campaigns work. So, you can go and see a client and you could lay out how much of an audience you have and you've got this by RAJAR, whether you're a local radio station, regional or national or whether you are a community one. And it's all well and good saying, 'This is what we have as a listener', but if the campaign's not working, that is somewhat irrelevant.
From a community radio station, if campaigns are working, advertisers will see people buying their products, whatever the product services they're actually offering, and they will want to repeat book, irrelevant of whether you're able to say, 'Here's my audience'. It may be a guesstimation number, it may be RAJAR number, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee a campaign will work. So, we don't need to get too hung up about whether that is critically important. It would be helpful, I guess, but it's not critically important, because, of course, a campaign will work, advertisers will want to spend more money again because it's an investment, a return on investment and not a cost.
It would be very useful for Welsh Government, for example, if they're thinking of revisiting their community fund, to have the actual listener numbers to back up that. So, in that respect, it would be useful.
Can I just add one more point on advertising? Obviously, there is a lot of money that is spent by the Welsh Government and the Welsh Assembly on advertising and some of that will be radio advertising. There has been a discussion in this committee previously, I think, where, should some of that radio advertising spend go to the community radio stations and take a chunk off the commercial guys who are sitting next to me—I'm not advocating that by the way, I'm just on the marketing—. Of course, as this is public money that is being spent on advertising, as a taxpayer I would expect the public servants—the media buyer or the marketing manager for the Assembly or the Government—to turn around and say, 'I've done my maths, I've done my homework—this will bring us more value in that area, and this will bring us more value in that area.' At the moment, community radio—. You talk about national advertising, I'm not saying that community radio should go for Fairy Liquid advertising, but what—. You guys are keen to get your messages out, but the problem is the person who's responsible for spending that advertising budget here has to answer to the public in how that money is being spent. If they have no figures to align that to they can't make that judgment.
Okay. Diolch. Jenny.
If Ofcom allows community radio to have small-scale DAB, what's going to be the impact on commercial radio?
Do you want to come in on that one? [Laughter.]
I think the silence speaks volumes. That's a big 'What if?' and I think it's just another way for them to broadcast. They're already on FM; if they're on small-scale DAB, that's great. As I said earlier, we welcome community radio; we've got no quarrel with them whatsoever. So, if they're extended on to small-scale DAB, as far as—. I can't see a problem.
It's an active area that DCMS are looking at currently. From our perspective, as a multiplex operator, I don't understand the reasons why we'd be potentially prevented from operating in that sector. For example, Aberystwyth would be a good place to have a small-scale DAB multiplex, and yet, as the proposals stand, as a multiplex operator we'd only be allowed to have, I think, 50 per cent shareholding in that company. My only other point on small-scale DAB is, again, we've got to be quite careful that we don't go into places like, I don't know, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Aberystwyth and suddenly create, through a lattice effect of small-scale DAB, something that undermines the local DAB layer that we've tried to create. So, there is a small danger there. I think it's small, and certainly it's smaller in areas like Cardiff than it would be in rural west Wales.
Okay, thank you for that. I'm finding this a really difficult area to delve into, because you guys are commercial operators. So, on one level, why on earth would you be wanting to promote community radio or support community radio? Because, potentially, they are competitors for your advertisers.
Yes, I completely agree. Going back, Jenny, to the point you made earlier about whether the DAB would be a competitor to us, I think our biggest competitor is new media, is streaming, Spotify and the likes of—[Inaudible.] That's where we, as an industry, should be turning our attention to consider, and going back to Jack's point about the youth who are not necessarily tuning in to radio as they used to do many years ago, that's where our attention, that's where our focus and efforts, are being placed now: from a streaming perspective, from a Spotify product and numerous other providers. That's where we are spending our time focusing; we're not necessarily concerned too much about the DAB side of it, because, if people are listening to radio, that's good for the sector, it's good for the business. So, our efforts are very much turning to streaming and the products there.
And also, with the more stations available and the more ways to listen, lots of people are still listening to the radio more than ever before, but listening to individual stations for fewer hours. That's the problem that damages the advertising—when you have a lot of people being reached but not listening for very long—and that's a major challenge for every commercial radio operator.
I made a submission to the DCMS small-scale advisory—. I agree with Martin. I think it's gone about it the wrong way. Small-scale DAB technology is a great technology for getting in the holes that haven't been plugged or can't be plugged by landscape problems or various other problems. What should have been done is there should have been a better consultation on that whereby you could have looked at Martin's situation in Aberystwyth and said, 'Actually, let's give a small-scale DAB licence to Martin in Aberystwyth so he can fill the hole of what's on offer', and, yes, any community radio stations that might want to pop up on the fringes of Aberystwyth might be able to get space on that. But the problem is I think the DCMS have looked at it in terms of another layer of delivery as opposed to plugging the holes.
One benefit of small-scale DAB technology, coming back to the transmitter issue—and Martin raised this; these guys have all raised it already. You know, there's only one horse in town when it comes to major transmission in Britain, and that's Arqiva. They have a monopoly on delivering FM and most DAB in the country. The one thing that the DCMS project does look at, by virtue of the ownership rules, is it does allow the possible creation of far more transmitters—small transmitters—across the country, in a rival to Arqiva, which may also drive down those transmission prices. Because, whilst I understand topography and landscape is a big problem for the transmission, I also understand that a monopoly is a problem for transmission, and these guys often only have one company to go to get their frequency out.
Okay. So, the DCMS have raised this elephant in the room but are they planning to do anything about it?
Yes. They're all gung-ho for having—a private Members' Bill has gone through to pursue small-scale DAB. The consultation that I've just been part of was about how we deliver this. They are planning to do it through, I understand, secondary legislation, so it is not going to be a brand new Act of Parliament when they want to deliver certain things. So, I would advise the Assembly and the Welsh Government to have a look at whether there's any way of manipulating that secondary legislation in Parliament that would facilitate you guys having some control or some knowledge or some influence on how those transmitters are set up in Wales, to the benefit of everyone.
Okay, because one of you submitted evidence about how, in the north of Wales, there are various options that have delivered better services for, for example, Liverpool, but it doesn't seem to have benefited the population on the north coast of Wales. Is that right?
I think the way transmitters are set up in this country there's always going to be bleed, as they call it, which means you go into areas where you don't want to get at. History will always tell you that people in Cardiff here turned their aerials to Bristol in the 1970s and 1980s and people in Rhyl were watching more Granada Television than they were HTV Wales. I think, coming back to a general point, we need to get the technology to work for us as opposed to us working for the technology. I think technology can be manipulated to deliver whatever programming, whatever content, whatever culture we want it to do. I would hate a situation where technology decides what we do. Arguably, with Spotify and the new media area, you're getting to that situation where, you know, Spotify are leading the world and Spotify are deciding what music you like, what tone you like, what voices you like, what language you like. And that's a pretty difficult place for these guys to be in, I think.
Okay. I think that's a very important point. There clearly is a tendency towards monopolisation across the whole of the media that should concern us all. But if commercial radio produces so much of its content outside Wales how can you then describe yourselves as serving your communities?
I think that from a Global point of view—I think I've touched on it earlier—a portion of our output is served outside of Wales and a portion of that output is served inside Wales, which is fed to our listeners, and over 45 to 46 per cent of Wales enjoy that output. In one sense, how do we do it? We do what we do how we do it—and I think I've described that—and it's been extremely well received. So, I think that from a Wales point of view, a Welsh locality point of view, the news, the traffic and travel, that element, is absolutely all about Wales, produced by people who live here, locally, et cetera—so, that's the core localness. The output from the presenter, the music we play, is a national brand delivered locally, which is working across the UK in the very same effective sense as it is in Wales. So, you've got the hybrid of the two scenarios, and that allows us—that strategy and that model allows Global to invest in the business in the areas where we believe we will get the best return for our business from a product point of view, from a brand development point of view.
And the issue we have currently is the BBC and Radio 1 and Radio 2 in particular have massive dominance—
We're coming on to the BBC now. [Laughter.]
Okay. We're coming on to that. I'll hold fire on that.
I would like to make one brief point on this, and again it's around 'be careful what you wish for'. So, travel news, hugely important—it doesn't matter where it's collated, it matters that it's correct. So, the travel news provider in Wales, these guys, historically, have embedded people or information coming from the traffic control centre on the roundabout by the A470. There was no room there when we launched Nation Radio, so our travel news is collated using exactly the same information and all the cameras from the M4 by a team in Bristol. Now, it's still travel news relevant for Wales, but in this case it's being produced outside of Wales.
Okay. Just returning the focus onto community radio, do you think that the BBC could play a greater role in enhancing community radio? Our interest is in the hyperlocal to strengthen community cohesion.
This is not a popular view, but I'll express it anyway. We all pay for the BBC. My view is the BBC's content should be, therefore, available to commercial broadcasters and community broadcasters and the BBC's a bit too protective of it. But they're not here to talk about that. That's my view—that, actually, if it is a true public service then we should be able to take the BBC's content and use it. But that doesn't necessarily help plurality in Wales.
Okay, but I think there is collaboration between the BBC and community radio, certainly in terms of providing news to them, because news, obviously, is the most expensive thing to generate accurately. So, there's nothing else you think that the BBC could be doing, leaving aside your relationship with them—
Well, there are steps. There's the new local journalism project from the BBC, which I think they're in the process of recruiting in Wales. So, we would, in fact, expect to see the fruits of that, but that's still some months down the line, isn't it?
Sorry, I have to move on soon, if you're not—
I was just going to ask: if the restraints on community radio are let off the leash, in terms of being able to hunt for more commercial advertising, would you squeal at that or would you tolerate it?
It depends which market you're in. If you're in Cardiff where there's 1 million chimney pots, it really is unlikely to make a difference. If you're running a radio station in Ceredigion, where there are 72,000 chimney pots, it potentially makes quite a big difference. So, it's horses for courses.
Just very quickly, to also note that I know that Communicorp and Global firmly support the student radio sector, which is something we haven't really touched upon. We're fully invested in the next generation of future talent and we spend time providing training and guidance for the likes of the guys at Xpress and Dragon. So, that's another sector that we haven't really touched upon, but I think it's crucial that that's mentioned.
If you could send us more information on that, that would be useful, because we haven't had that much evidence from that sector. That would be really useful. Okay, Neil Hamilton on the BBC.
Yes. I'd like to find out what's your assessment of BBC radio services in Wales. The figures that we've been given by the BBC are that, on average, 372,000 people listen to BBC Radio Wales each week. That's about 5 per cent of the listening public, behind Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 4 and Heart South Wales. And, on average, Radio Wales listeners tune in for about eight hours a week, which is quite a lot, I think, by the sound of it. Radio Cymru reaches 127,000 adults in Wales and the average listener spends 11 hours listening to that. That's the most popular station for fluent Welsh speakers and accounts for 20 per cent of their radio listening in 2017. Is the BBC making the most of its privileged position, which you referred to a moment ago, as a massive distortion in the market for radio services generally? I appreciate the point that you made that, if you had access to their content, if you could use it freely, that would massively free things up. So, what can we do to change the system to promote the kind of diversity that we want, but without prejudicing the public interest elements of news gathering and reporting and so on?
I think, at the moment, the BBC dominance in Wales, it's largely driven by the national stations, when you add that in to Radio Wales and Radio Cymru. I think the major challenge, and commercial radio are united on this, is that we need Radio 1 and Radio 2 to be distinctive. Radio 1 has recently had—Ofcom have revisited what they define as new music for the BBC and commercial radio. Radio 1's commitment is to have 50 per cent new music, which sounds like a lot, but it's easily counted because it's 'play one old song, play one new song'. So, when they introduce things, like they have done recently, the section called Radio 1's Greatest Hits, which is a large swathe of music from anything back to 2000 and beyond, then that, for me, is not fulfilling the remit of what Radio 1 should be, which is a youth music service for the young people of the UK, breaking new music like no-one else can.
It's difficult for commercial radio to compete against the might of the BBC. As we've all touched upon, the local content we provide is our key to success. We do more of it than we have to because we know that's what will help us gain audiences, and that's vitally important. But, when you're faced with this increasing competition from the BBC becoming what, from the outside in—I used to work at the BBC—looks to be becoming almost wider, broader and more mainstream, then that's going to put even more pressure on commercial audiences up and down the country, especially in Wales.
I completely agree with all of that. The dominance of Radio 2, which did used to have a target audience of some 50-plus, has moved bang into where commercial radio historically sat. It's caused problems for BBC national radio here in Wales, because it doesn't know where it should be and it's beginning to migrate. Whether that's financial or whether it's relentless pursuit of audience, it's beginning to replace speech programming with music programming and it's beginning to sound a little bit more commercial. Perhaps that's what you should address: what do we want BBC Radio Wales in particular, actually,—because it's fairly obvious what Radio Cymru is here to deliver—to deliver?
Unfortunately, the BBC is measured in the same way as us, so everyone thinks success for the BBC is how many people are tuning in, and that isn't necessarily the case, I believe, when you're funding an organisation with public funding. So, that's where I would start—to look at that. But, there used to be a massive difference between Radio 1 and Radio 2, and now it's all merged together. So, we've had to try to find our place in that market as commercial broadcasters, even though we're far more restricted in the ways we're allowed to change. At the same time, BBC Radio Wales, I think, is trying to find its way. I'd be suggesting to the BBC that they should be investing particularly in speech programming.
Speaking for myself, I've never understood why a publicly funded broadcaster should be running a channel like Radio 1 at all, because that could be provided for entirely from the commercial sector. Of course, I can understand why a public service broadcaster needs to be in existence for news services and so on, so long as that's properly run as well and is as free as you can be from bias, but the overlap of commercially oriented services that the BBC is currently focusing on seems to me to be a massive inhibition upon the growth of the commercial sector, which could plug a lot of the gaps that we are talking about in other ways in local and community radio.
I think, when we look at the BBC in Wales, unfortunately, our eyes do travel across the border to the national outputs. I know that Colin Paterson, the editor of Radio Wales, was before you a few weeks ago, and he said, 'Never mind about Radio 1 and Radio 2, let's talk about how we can make Radio Wales better'. Well, I'm up for that conversation, but, fundamentally, the problem is always going to be that Radio 2 has stolen a march in Wales. I know Neil's going to hit me for this, but I want to go back to the good old days of Red Dragon Radio, mate—again. [Laughter.] When I was at Red Dragon Radio, Red Dragon was the market leader, then it was Radio Wales, I think, and Radio 2 was probably about—or Radio 1—third or fourth. There has been a massive change in the programming and the output of Radio 2 in the past 15 years that has made it become so popular.
One controversial thing I will put on the table, which is part BBC related and part commercial radio related, and I think it's worth considering, is that the market leader by a country mile in this country is Radio 2. The majority of the output from Radio 2 is—. I struggle—. Apart from Lynn Bowles, who's now left the travel, where's the Welsh voice on Radio 2? It's largely London based. There are substantial chunks of two groups' output here, which are very successful, which are from London. Maybe Welsh people don't like to listen to Welsh people on the radio.
Maybe there's something about them not wanting to listen to that, because if you take the pure numbers, over 90 per cent of listening to radio in Wales is done for content outside of Wales.
Well, that's a certainly challenging point of view. [Laughter.]
Maybe it's the content, rather than the accent.
Oh, totally, yes, and what I would also say is, as I said before, it's about people from England walking the streets of Cardiff and talking about Cardiff. It's not about—. Yes, absolutely not, but I think Radio 2 has stolen a march, perhaps for that reason.
Well, I think that's a very interesting point, and what has struck me in the course of listening to your evidence this morning is we've got this massive focus upon regulation of non-BBC broadcasting, commercial stations and so on, and yet the BBC is such a dominant force in the market that is wholly outside this whole system. You've referred to transmission costs, but also regulation costs, as being a massive problem for creating greater diversity in commercial broadcasting. Then you've got this big block of the BBC, which is restricting your market potential by virtue of the privileged position that they hold and being funded by compulsory levies on the public. So, is our focus entirely wrong here? Should we not just be focusing upon regulation? Regulation is often said to be an analogue form in a digital age; by the time the legislation is on the statute book, technology has moved on today. And similarly, in regulatory terms, broadcasting reviews occur on an infrequent basis, by which time fast-moving technology has left it far behind.
I think technology—. Coming back to the point about the RAJAR statistics, one thing that we are woolly of as an industry is that we don't know that much about the new technologies and the audiences that they have. One statistic I did find out the other day is that Audioboom, who are a podcasting company who host certain podcasts from Wales, get 28,000 listeners a week from Wales alone. Now, they're a very small player. But, coming back to the BBC, I think there are certain burdens on the BBC that require them to behave in the way they do. I slightly disagree with you on the Radio 1 point. Although there are problems with Radio 1 for me, they are playing and breaking more new music bands, and have probably broken more new music from Wales than the other networks on the commercial side. So, there is a public service element too, and I would always say that Newsbeat is one of the greatest news programmes on British radio, attacking an audience that supposedly are disinterested in news.
I think a point, Neil, that's worth mentioning is that it's a unique position the BBC find themselves in. They have a tv station network behind them, so they're able to talk about what's happening on their radio stations to a mass market, a mass audience, which obviously, from a commercial radio point of view, we are unable to do. If you look at it from a marketing, advertising, communication perspective, they've got a whole market there—a mass market, to be honest—to advertise what they're doing, which will help their audience figures.
I suppose I should say that all my questions have been posed on a secure foundation of complete ignorance, because I never listen to either Radio 1 or Radio 2. But—
Right, okay. Do you have anything further, Neil?
If you want to move on, I'm happy. But, before that, do you want me to move on to the next—?
Do you want to just cover quickly the BBC opt-out, because the Minister is waiting outside?
Yes. The evidence that we received from the BBC is that we couldn't have a news opt-out for Radio 1 or Radio 2 because the FM transmitter covers the west of England as well. For some strange reason, people in the west of England don't want to hear about Welsh news—apparently. So, what is your view on our proposal in a previous report of this committee for a news opt-out to make Welsh news more of a possibility within Wales on BBC network radio? Is this a good idea, in your view?
I'll just take that. What I found very interesting about the BBC's submission was that one minute they were telling you, 'You absolutely can't do this; we'd affect 2 million people in Somerset' and then suddenly they find 200,000 listeners from Somerset down the back of a sofa and say, 'Oh no, if we put this transmitter over here and put that transmitter—.' I think if you keep on asking the question you'll get that number down to zero. I think anything is possible technically. I think both are possibly technical, with investment, I grant you that. A couple of points that I would make on the relevance of that—. Look, in my heart I'm a big fan of both of those ideas, but we live in a digital age where people are consuming news and listening to new music in other ways.
So, also bear in mind that, from my point of view, if you look at all the BBC network radio, I have to say, of all the network radio stations, Radio 1 does far more to promote Wales—Welsh music, Welsh people, Welsh stories, and they even had Welsh language programmes on there—than any of the other networks. So, actually, perhaps Radio 1 is not the problem here. What's Radio 4 and Radio 5 doing for Welsh output? So, I don't really think it's a big problem for them, and, in this Spotify age, it may have been a decision by the BBC people in London not to do that programme. They're the people to ask about that I think, not BBC Wales.
Os nad oes mwy o gyfraniadau ar y cwestiwn yna'n benodol rydym yn mynd i ddod â phethau i ben achos y diffyg amser sydd gennym nawr. Os oes unrhyw sylwadau ychwanegol gennych chi, yn seiliedig ar y drafodaeth neu'n seiliedig ar beth mae tystion eraill yn ei ddweud wrthym ni yn ystod y drafodaeth, yna plîs cysylltwch â ni, a byddai mwy o wybodaeth am y gwaith gyda myfyrwyr yn grêt. Ond diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am ddod mewn yma heddiw.
If there are no further responses to that question specifically we'll bring things to an end because we've run out of time. If there are any further comments that you'd like to make, based on the discussion that we have had or what other witnesses say to us during this wider debate, then please do contact us, and more information about the work with the students would be great. But thank you very much for joining us today.
Rydym ni'n mynd i symud ymlaen yn syth at yr eitem nesaf, jest oherwydd ein bod yn hwyr o ran amser. Rydym ni'n symud ymlaen nawr felly at eitem 3: radio yng Nghymru, sesiwn dystiolaeth 6, ac rydym ni'n croesawu Dafydd Elis-Thomas, y Gweinidog Diwylliant, Twristiaeth a Chwaraeon, a hefyd Hywel Owen, arweinydd tîm polisi'r cyfryngau, Llywodraeth Cymru. Sori ein bod ni bach yn hwyr—roedd y sesiwn ar radio masnachol yn ddiddorol ac felly roeddem ni eisiau cael digon o dystiolaeth ganddyn nhw.
We are going to move on straight away to the next item, just because we are running late. We now move on to item 3: radio in Wales, evidence session number 6, and we welcome Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, and also Hywel Owen, media policy team leader for the Welsh Government. I'm sorry that we're running a bit behind—the session on commercial radio was interesting and so we wanted to gather plenty of evidence from them.
Roeddem ni'n gwrando.
We were listening.
Roeddech chi'n gwrando. Grêt. Falch o glywed, felly.
You were listening. Great, I'm glad to hear it.
Rwy'n wrandawr Capital yn y gogledd, so rydw i eisiau clywed beth maen nhw'n ddweud.
I listen to Capital in north Wales, so I wanted to hear what they had to say.
Iawn. Efallai fod gennych chi sylwadau ar hyn o bryd. Mae gennym ni wahanol themâu—os yw hynny'n iawn—ac mi wnawn ni symud yn syth i mewn i gwestiynau. Byddaf i'n cychwyn gyda radio masnachol yn hynny o beth. A allwch chi roi eich barn chi ar effaith refeniw isel radio masnachol lleol yng Nghymru ar gynnwys lleol yng Nghymru? Beth ydych chi'n credu yw'r sialensau yng Nghymru?
Right. Perhaps you have comments at the moment. We do have different themes to cover—if that is all right—and we'll move straight to questions. I will start with commercial radio in that regard. Could you give us your opinion on the impact of the low revenue of local commercial radio on local content in Wales? What do you see as being the challenges in Wales?
Wel, mae'r ffigyrau diweddaraf yr ydw i wedi eu gweld yn dangos cynnydd. Rydw i'n gwybod ei fod o'n gynnydd yn yr incwm o lefel is, ond, gyda radio masnachol, yn amlwg, mae radio masnachol yn ddibynnol ar refeniw hysbysebu, mae'n dibynnu ar berfformiad yr economi ac ar natur yr economi mewn unrhyw genedl neu mewn unrhyw ranbarth, ac oherwydd bod cysylltiad amlwg rhwng radio masnachol a'r hyn sy'n digwydd yn yr economi, mae hynny'n bownd o gael ei effeithio yn y refeniw hysbysebu a hefyd yng nghapasiti yr orsaf i ddatblygu. Buaswn i'n dweud bod y gorsafoedd masnachol yng Nghymru wedi datblygu'n llwyddiannus iawn yn ystod yr 20 mlynedd diwethaf ac mae hynny yn beth i'w groesawu.
Well, the latest figures that I have seen show an increase. I know it's an increase at a lower level per capita, but, with commercial radio, clearly, commercial radio is reliant on advertising revenue, it relies on the performance of the economy and the nature of the economy in any given nation or any given region, and because there is a clear link between commercial radio and what happens within the economy, that's bound to be reflected in the advertising revenue and in the capacity of the station to develop. I would say that the commercial stations in Wales have developed very successfully over the past 20 years and that is something to be welcomed.
A ydych chi'n credu bod strwythurau perchnogaeth radio masnachol yn cael effaith ar gynnwys lleol? Gwnaethom ni glywed barn wahanol yn y panel diwethaf lle y gwnaeth un o'r tystion y tu allan i'r sector, Marc Webber, ddweud bod rhyw fath o ddominyddu o berchnogaeth fasnachol yng Nghymru a bod diffyg, wedyn, pethau lleol ar y radio, ond roedd radio masnachol yn amlwg yn anghydfynd â hynny. Beth yw'ch persbectif chi o lefel y Llywodraeth?
Do you believe that the ownership structures of commercial radio does have an impact on local content in Wales? We heard a different opinion in the last panel. One of the witnesses outside of the sector, Marc Webber, said that there was domination of commercial ownership in Wales and that local issues on radio were impacted negatively, but commercial radio didn't go along with that view. What's your perspective as a Government?
Wel, nid oes gyda ni, wrth gwrs—ac mi ddaw hyn yn amlwg yn ystod y dystiolaeth—nad oes gyda ni ddim ffordd o reoleiddio yr hyn sydd yn digwydd mewn darlledu masnachol nac yn wir mewn unrhyw fath o ddarlledu. Felly, pan fyddaf i'n mynegi barn, nid ydw i fel arfer—. Pan rwy'n siarad fel Gweinidog, rwy'n gallu disgrifio beth yw polisi Llywodraeth Cymru a beth rydym ni'n treial ei wneud mewn maes arbennig, ond nid oes gyda ni bolisi, dim ond bod gyda ni drosolwg ar bolisi cyhoeddus a sut mae o'n effeithio ar bobl Cymru. Mae hynny o ddiddordeb i ni, yn amlwg, ym maes darlledu.
Mae cwestiwn strwythur radio masnachol yng Nghymru yn fater rydw i'n teimlo'n gryf amdano fo. Efallai y dylwn i ddatgan diddordeb hanesyddol fel un o gyfarwyddwyr Marcher Sound, wnaeth sefydlu Champion FM yng Nghaernarfon. Roedd hynny'n gyfnod lle'r oedd modd sefydlu gorsafoedd radio eithaf lleol, a'r rheini yn ddwyieithog iawn yn achos yr un oedd yng Nghaernarfon. Mae'n dda gen i fod Heart yn y gogledd a Capital Cymru wedi parhau â'r ddarpariaeth Gymraeg yn weddol. Ond, mae'r ffaith mai dim ond tri chwmni mewn gwirionedd sydd yn weithredol yn fasnachol yng Nghymru—ac rydych chi wedi bod yn siarad efo nhw bore yma—mae hyn yn cyfyngu ar beth sydd yn bosib i'w wneud ac amrywiaeth dewis gwrandawyr. Mae'r cwestiwn hefyd, wrth gwrs, ynglŷn â ble mae'r rhaglenni'n cael eu cynhyrchu. Beth yw'r cynnwys ac i ba raddau y mae'r cynnwys yn gynnwys sydd yn adlewyrchu diwylliant Cymreig neu hyd yn oed—os caf i ddweud o'n blwmp ac yn blaen—neu hyd yn oed yn adlewyrchu acen Gymreig. Hynny yw, nid ydyn nhw'n swnio yn Gymreig oherwydd bod yna lot o ddeunydd sydd yn cael ei gynhyrchu yn rhywle arall. Maen nhw'n swnio bron fel prif donfeddi'r BBC.
Well, this will emerge during this evidence, but clearly, we have no way of regulating what happens in commercial broadcasting or indeed in any kind of broadcasting. Therefore, when I express a view, when I speak as Minister, I can usually describe what the Welsh Government policy is and what we intend to do in any given area. We have no policy in this area, but we do have an overview of public policy and how it impacts the people of Wales. That's clearly of interest to us in the sphere of broadcasting.
The questions surrounding the structure of commercial radio in Wales is an issue that I feel strongly about. I should perhaps declare a historical interest as one of the directors of Marcher Sound, which established Champion FM in Caernarfon. That was at a time when radio stations that were relatively local could be established and they were entirely bilingual in nature, the one in Caernarfon. I'm pleased to say that Heart in north Wales and Capital Cymru have maintained that Welsh language provision relatively well. But, the fact that there are only three companies, if truth be told, operating commercially in Wales—and you've been speaking to them this morning of course—this does restrict what can be delivered in terms of diversity of choice for listeners. There's also the question surrounding where the programming is produced, what the content is and to what extent that content is content that reflects Welsh culture or even, if I may speak plainly, reflects the Welsh accent. That is, they don't sound Welsh because much of the material is produced elsewhere. They almost sound like the main BBC networks.
Unrhyw beth i ychwanegu at hynny?
Anything to add on that?
Rwy'n gwybod ein bod ni wedi rhoi tystiolaeth i chi o'r blaen yn eich ymchwiliad ar newyddiaduraeth ac efallai bod nifer o'r ffactorau yma—yn amlwg o ran papurau newydd, hefyd, o ran perchnogion—mae nifer o'r un pethau yn gyffredin. Hefyd, mae'n dod yn ôl i'r pwynt rŷm ni wedi bod yn ei wneud ers blynyddoedd o ran plwraliaeth, o ran ei bod hi'n bwysig cael cymaint o bobl â phosib i ddarparu newyddion a phethau sydd ddim yn newyddion hefyd.
Well, we've given evidence to you before in your inquiry into journalism and perhaps a number of these factors—in terms of newspapers as well and the owners—they share many of the same common themes. Coming back to the point that we've made for years about plurality: it's important to have as many people as possible to provide news and also things that aren't news.
A ydych chi'n becso felly gyda'r symud i ddad-reoleiddio yn y sector yma? Yn amlwg, mae'r rheini yn y sector yn hoffi hynny, ond gall hynny lastwreiddio wedyn y cynnwys lleol. Nid ydw i eisiau mynd mewn i newyddion achos mae rhywun arall yn gofyn am hynny, ond o ran cynnwys Cymreig, cynnwys sydd yn gynhenid o Gymru, am bobl o Gymru, a ydych chi'n creu y byddai dad-reoleiddio yn hynny o beth yn amharu ar hynny?
Are you concerned therefore about the move to deregulate this sector? Clearly, those in the sector seem to welcome that, but that could dilute the local content. I don't want to go into news here because someone else is going to cover that, but in terms of inherently Welsh content that is about the people of Wales, do you think deregulation would have an impact on that?
Mae'n ddrwg gen i, mae polisi Llywodraeth y Deyrnas Unedig yn hollol glir—maen nhw'n mynd i wneud hynny, ac felly beth bynnag ddywedaf i neu y dywedwch chi bydd yna ddim newid yn hynny. Rwy'n meddwl bod yn rhaid i ni fod yn realistig am y pethau yma, oherwydd os ydym ni yn delio â meysydd sydd heb eu datganoli, yna mae'n rhaid cael ffordd wahanol o ddylanwadu ac o sicrhau buddiannau Cymru o fewn y drefn yna. Dyna rydym ni wedi ceisio ei wneud fel Llywodraeth, ac rydw i wedi bod yn ymwneud a'r broses yma rŵan ers chwe mis.
Rŷm ni wedi ceisio dylanwadu drwy sicrhau bod cynrychiolaeth gan Gymru ar y cyrff sydd yn rheoleiddio—Ofcom yn arbennig, wrth gwrs, ac i raddau y BBC. Mae hynny wedi cael ei wneud yn llwyddiannus, cyn fy nghyfnod i yn y swydd, ac efallai y byddai Hywel yn hoffi sôn rhywbeth am hynny. Ond ni allwn ni, fel Llywodraeth, gymryd unrhyw benderfyniad sy'n effeithio ar bolisi darlledu heblaw ein bod ni'n gweithio drwy sicrhau cynrychiolaeth gref o Gymru ar fwrdd Ofcom, ac mae'r broses yna yn digwydd ar hyn o bryd. Nid yw'r swydd eto wedi'i hysbysebu, ond mae'r Alban wedi hysbysebu ac wedi penodi, rydw i'n credu.
Wedyn, mae'r gynrychiolaeth genedlaethol o'r cenhedloedd ar Ofcom, mae hynny wedi digwydd. Rydw i'n gobeithio y bydd gwaith corff sydd wedi rhoi tystiolaeth i chi, sef pwyllgor cynghori Cymru Ofcom, y bydd y gwaith yna hefyd yn parhau a chryfhau ar ôl i ni allu dod ymlaen gyda'r penodiad o aelod. Gwelwn ni hefyd y bydd y pwyllgor yn cael ei ailsefydlu; mae'n debyg dyna fyddai'r sefyllfa yn yr achos yna. Nid ydw i wedi holi Ofcom yn fanwl ynglŷn â hynny, ond rydw i wedi cael cyfarfod efo nhw yn anffurfiol i drafod y sefyllfa.
Well, I'm sorry, the United Kingdom Government policy is very clear on that so whatever I say or whatever you say, there won't be any change in that. I think we have to be realistic about that. If we're dealing with areas that haven't been devolved, then we have to have a different way of influencing them and ensuring that Welsh interests are maintained within that regime. That's what we're trying to do as a Government, and I've been involved in this process now for six months.
We have tried to influence by ensuring there's representation from Wales on the bodies that regulate—Ofcom in particular, of course, and to some extent the BBC. That has been done successfully, before my period in the post, and perhaps Hywel would like to talk about that. But we, as a Government, can't take any decision that affects broadcast policy unless we work by ensuring strong representation from Wales on the Ofcom board, and that process is ongoing. The post hasn't been advertised yet, but Scotland has advertised, I believe, and has made an appointment, I believe.
So, national representation of the individual nations on Ofcom, that has happened. I hope that a body that has given evidence to you, which is the Wales advisory board of Ofcom, I hope that their work will also be ongoing and hopefully will be strengthened after we come forward with the appointment of a member. We will also see the committee being re-established; I believe that that will be the situation then. I haven't asked Ofcom in detail about that, but I have had a meeting with them informally to discuss this issue.
Ond a ydych chi'n credu bod modd i chi, fel Gweinidog, i ddylanwadu neu i roi cyfraniad i mewn i DCMS yn ogystal â threfniadau newydd Ofcom? A oes yna fodd i chi ymwneud gyda'r sefyllfa yn hynny o beth?
But do you believe that it would be possible for you, as Minister, to have an influence or to make a submission to DCMS in addition to the new Ofcom arrangements that you've mentioned? Couldn't you become engaged with the situation in that way?
Na, nid ydw i'n credu. Rydw i'n cyfarfod yn achlysurol gyda Gweinidogion y Deyrnas Unedig lle mae gennym ni bolisïau cyffredin. Cefais i gyfarfod ynglŷn â thwristiaeth a oedd yn cynnwys yr Alban, wrth gwrs, a Chymru, a'r Deyrnas Unedig—ac, wrth gwrs, mae hynny'n cynnwys Lloegr yn bennaf—ac, wrth gwrs, y gweision sifil o Ogledd Iwerddon.
Mae'n bosib y byddai fo'n ddefnyddiol, pe byddech chi'n dewis argymell hynny— mi fyddwn ni, wrth gwrs, yn ei ystyried o yn ddifrifol iawn—y byddai fo yn beth defnyddiol i ni gael cyfarfod o Weinidogion darlledu y Deyrnas Unedig. Ond gan nad yw darlledu wedi'i ddatganoli yn yr Alban, yng Nghymru, nag yng Ngogledd Iwerddon, nid oes gennym ni fel Gweinidogion diwylliant, neu unrhyw faes arall yn y gwledydd yna, ddim ffordd o weithredu yn uniongyrchol.
Nid ydw i'n hoff o'r syniad yma mai swydd Gweinidogion y Goron yng Nghymru ydy mynd, â'n capiau yn ein dwylo neu ein capiau ar ein pennau neu le bynnag, i ofyn i Weinidogion DCMS, 'A wnewch chi plîs gofio am Gymru?', achos nid dyna'r ffordd i weithio. Rydw i'n meddwl mai'r ffordd i weithio ydy bod gan Gymru gynrychiolaeth statudol gadarn yng nghyrff rheoleiddio y Deyrnas Unedig. Dyna sydd gyda ni yn y BBC. Dyna sydd gyda ni bellach yn Ofcom. Rydw i'n awyddus iawn i weld hynny yn cael ei ddatblygu, oherwydd dyna'r ffordd rydym ni fel Llywodraeth wedi penderfynu ydy'r ffordd fwyaf effeithiol o weithredu.
No, I don't think so. I meet UK Ministers periodically, where we have common policies. I had a meeting with regard to tourism that included Scotland, Wales and the United Kingdom—and that, of course, includes England mainly—and, of course, the civil servants from Northern Ireland.
It's possible that it would be useful, if you chose to recommend it, that when we do consider it seriously, that it would be useful for us to have a meeting of Ministers with responsibility for broadcasting on a UK level. But as broadcasting hasn't been devolved to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, we as culture Ministers, or any other related area in those countries, don't have any way of taking direct action.
I'm not particularly fond of this idea that the role of Crown Ministers is to go, cap in hand, to ask DCMS Ministers, 'Please remember Wales', because that's not the way to operate. I think that the way to operate is that Wales has statutory representation, robust representation on the UK regulatory bodies. That's what we do have with the BBC. That's what we now have in Ofcom. I'm very eager to see that being developed, because that's the way that we as a Government have decided is the most effective way of operating.
Mae'n dibynnu ar eich analysis. Ni fyddwn i'n dweud y byddwn i eisiau i ni fynd gyda'n cap yn ein llaw, ond byddem ni eisiau cyfrannu syniadau, rhannu syniadau creadigol, yng nghyd-destun beth y gallai Cymru ei gynnig, yn hytrach nag, efallai, y dehongliad mwy negyddol rydych chi wedi'i roi i ni yma heddiw.
It depends on your analysis. I'm not saying that I would want to go cap in hand, but we would certainly want to contribute ideas and to share creative ideas in the context of what Wales could offer, rather than the more negative interpretation that you've proposed today.
Wel, nid ydw i eisiau'r DCMS yn dweud wrthyf i nag wrth Gymru beth y dylem ni fod yn ei wneud. Mae gen i lawer mwy o ymddiriedaeth yn y sefyllfa lle mae gyda ni gomisiynwyr o fewn y BBC, er enghraifft, ac rydw i'n gobeithio, gyda'r ad-drefnu sydd yn digwydd, gyda Channel 4. Nid yw hynny'n berthnasol yn uniongyrchol i radio, ond mae o'n berthnasol iawn i'r economi ddarlledu yng Nghymru. Os cawn ni fantais allan o'r penderfyniadau i adleoli rheolaeth Channel 4, bydd yna gomisiynwyr yn gweithio yng Nghymru ac yn gallu trafod syniadau yn ddyddiol gyda darlledwyr a chynhyrchwyr. Dyna'r ffordd y mae rhywun yn cael syniadau creadigol, rydw i'n credu, ac nid ydw i'n credu bod yna lefel uchel o greadigrwydd ymhlith Gweinidogion DCMS nag, o bosib, yn rhywun fel fi yn fy swydd i.
Well, I don't want DCMS saying to me or to Wales what we should be doing. I have far more trust in the situation where we have commissioners within the BBC, for example, and I hope, with the re-organisation that's happening, with Channel 4. That's not relevant directly to radio, but it is very relevant to the broadcast economy in Wales. If we benefit from the decision to relocate Channel 4, then there will be a commissioner in Wales that will be able to discuss ideas daily with broadcasters and producers. That's the way that one gets creative ideas, I think, and I don't think that there's a high level of creativity among DCMS Ministers or, possibly, someone like me in my post.
Fel rydych chi'n gwybod, mae'r memorandwm cyd-ddealltwriaeth gydag Ofcom wedi cael ei gytuno, felly mae hwnnw yn ddogfen bwysig iawn. Fel rydych chi'n gwybod, yng nghyd-destun siarter y BBC, roedd yna femorandwm cyd-ddealltwriaeth bryd hynny, ac rwy'n credu bu hwnnw'n fantais fawr i ni, fel Llywodraeth, ac i Gymru, o ran y siarter derfynol. Cawsom ni nifer o bethau yn y siarter derfynol—ddim popeth yr oeddem ni, fel Llywodraeth, ei eisiau, ond gwnaeth y ffaith bod gennym ni femorandwm ffurfiol arwain at nifer o bethau y gwnaethom ni lwyddo eu cael yn y siarter derfynol. O ran Ofcom, er enghraifft, rydym ni wedi bod yn ymateb i ymgynghoriadau, a'u hadroddiad blynyddol yn ddiweddar. Felly, dyna'r math o beth yr ydym ni'n ei wneud fel Llywodraeth, jest er gwybodaeth.
As you know, the memorandum of understanding with Ofcom has been agreed, and that's a very important document. As you know, in the context of the BBC charter, there was a memorandum of understanding at that point, and I think that was of great advantage to us, as a Government, and to Wales more broadly in terms of the final charter. There were a number of things in the charter—not everything that we, as a Government, wanted, but the fact that we had a formal memorandum in place led to a number of issues that we succeeded to get included in the final charter. In terms of Ofcom, we respond to consultations, and we've responded to their annual report recently. So, that's the kind of thing that we're doing as a Government, just for information.
Ie, wel, dyna beth yr oeddwn i'n mynd i'w ddweud. Rydych chi wedi rhoi ymateb i mewn i Ofcom, a oedd wedi cael ei roi inni. Felly, mae hynny'n ymwneud â'r sefyllfa, mewn ffordd. Dyna beth yr oeddwn yn trio ei ddeall: eich bod yn ei wneud yn barod, yn hynny o beth.
Well, that's what I was going to say. You've responded to Ofcom and that was passed on to us. So, that relates to the situation, and that's what I was trying to understand: that you're doing it already in that regard.
Rydw i'n falch eich bod chi wedi sbotio'r ffordd yr ydym yn gweithio, oherwydd dyma ydy polisi cadarn y Llywodraeth yn y maes yma, sef ein bod ni yn Cymreigio'r rheoleiddiwr, bod gan reoleiddiwr y Deyrnas Unedig lais a chynrychiolaeth statudol Gymreig, gref arno fo, a hefyd bod gennym lais ymgynghorol reit gryf drwy gyfrwng y pwyllgor cynghori, ac yna bod y neges yn mynd yn ffurfiol yn y ffordd honno. Yna, dyna'r lle, wedyn, y mae modd i ni, fel Gweinidogion sydd yn penodi yr aelodau o'r rheoleiddwyr yma i gynrychioli Cymru, a hefyd S4C—. Mae Hywel wedi bod yn rhan o'r broses honno hefyd, yn ddiweddar, ar ran Llywodraeth Cymru, lle'r ydym ni'n gallu penodi yr aelodau sydd yn cynrychioli buddiannau y cyhoedd mewn darlledu yng Nghymru, a'r rheini'n cael eu penodi gan Weinidogion Cymru, neu bod gennym ni ran statudol yn y penodiad. Mae hynny'n golygu y gallwn ni alw ar y bobl hynny i sicrhau eu bod nhw'n gweithredu yn ôl anghenion pobl Cymru. Mae hynny'n llawer iawn mwy effeithiol. Nid mater o siarad yn neis efo Gweinidog arall yn rhywle, ar ôl rhyw gynhadledd ydy hyn, ond bod y cyfan yn dryloyw ac yn weithredol fel rhan o'r cyfansoddiad, wrth gwrs.
Well, I'm pleased you've spotted how we're working in this area, because this is the Government's firm policy in this area, namely that we make the regulator more Welsh, that the regulator has a statutory Welsh voice upon it, also with a strong consultative voice through the medium of the advisory committee, and then that that message is conveyed formally in that way. That is where we, as Ministers, who appoint these members to the regulators to represent Wales, and also in terms of S4C—. Hywel has been part of that process, too, recently on behalf of the Welsh Government, where we can appoint the members representing the public interest in broadcasting in Wales. They are appointed by Welsh Ministers, or we have a statutory role in that appointment. That means that we can call on those people to ensure that they do take actions that are in keeping with the needs of the people of Wales, and that's far more effective. It's not a matter of speaking warmly to another Minister in some conference somewhere—it's all transparent and all operational as part of the constitution.
Ocê. Diolch. Symud ymlaen at Jenny Rathbone.
Thank you. Moving on to Jenny Rathbone.
The deregulation of music content on commercial radio seems to have just been waved through because it was, obviously, a UK-wide consultation, and yet, isn't this extremely bad news for the development and promotion of Welsh music?
Well, I don't see that much Welsh music on what is currently regulated, quite frankly, in terms of commercial radio.
Well, I would agree with you on that, but that's not a reason for not trying to do something about it.
Again, I'm in a difficult situation on that. This is UK Government policy, and it's about their view that competition is good in the cultural sector. Now, obviously, where I come from, I don't necessarily agree with that point of view, but we are unable to influence it.
Well, surely, we should be able to influence it, simply because—. You've said very clearly your views about not deregulating news content, so is it not perfectly possible for you to have a view on cultural content?
Well, I may have a view, but we are not, in any way, able to implement our views.
I understand that, but you do have—
If I were to make representations, I don't—. I'm not stupid; I've been a politician for too long. There's no point in me pretending to people in Wales that I can, as culture Minister, represent issues to a Conservative Government that is totally driven by market forces across the whole of economy and culture, that they should stop deregulating something in Wales, or indeed in the United Kingdom, because they would take no notice.
Okay, I appreciate that, but I think the letter we've just received has a very rosy idea. Margot James, the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, has this fond idea that they don't expect a deregulated radio industry to change their format to serve mainstream or—. They don't expect this to change the type of service we get in Wales, and she thinks that stations will be able to experiment with music to better respond to the needs of listeners. This goes against the grain from the general monopolisation of the airwaves across the world. There's nothing now preventing people from transmitting radio from California, is there?
Well, I have no authority over California either.
Okay, but we clearly have to think what we're going to do if we're going to conserve the cultural distinctiveness of Wales, because otherwise it will just be washed away.
No, I have no fear of that at all, because we are now in a world of numerous digital platforms. Therefore, it's not just about broadcast radio; it's also about—you had a discussion earlier about Spotify and about materials available on the web and on apps. So, the key thing for me is that Welsh music, in both languages, needs to be made available on as many platforms as possible, not that it is conserved only in one bandwidth or on one set of transmitters. That is the view of S4C, I'm pleased to say, because I've had some very useful discussions, both with the chair and the chief executive of S4C, and I look forward to having more discussions in the future in the general area of how we can ensure that there is a cultural choice involving both languages in Wales, and the cultures of Wales—that that choice is available. I think the answer—and again, Ofcom is involved here—is about maximising the digital offer on as many platforms as possible.
Okay. So, in terms of the legislation that's going through Parliament at the moment, you don't think there's a role for the Welsh Government to try and influence the shape of that.
Well, I haven’t suggested to any of my colleagues—. The First Minister would be the obvious person here, because he has oversight of our relationships with the UK Government. There’s been no suggestion that we should seek to amend this legislation. I don’t see how you can argue with the United Kingdom Government that there should be a devolved regulatory system. Because when their whole drive is to deregulate, they're not going to say, 'We will deregulate in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but we won't deregulate in Wales'. That would not be logical from their point of view. So, I don’t see the point of engaging—
No, I can understand that, but it's still possible to influence the shape of whatever legislation is going to be passed by the UK Parliament to affect all of our nations.
Well, 'That’s a matter for Members of Parliament' would be my answer to that—which I am, obviously—but I've got no intention of trying to spend time in the upper House to seek amendments to a deregulation Bill that the Government will push through with its majority anyway.
So, we just lie down and accept whatever we're going to get.
Well, no, I’m just being realistic. My role is to use the powers that we have in devolved Wales in the most effective way possible to promote the culture, the well-being, the sporting activities and the economic importance of the tourist industry. That is my job, and in the area of culture, in particular, I don’t think that it is realistic for a devolved government to try to take on the United Kingdom Government when the whole policy drive, especially on deregulation, is driven by a market-led approach, which we don’t share. Clearly, our approach in the Government is an approach that involves the social market, the environmental market and the cultural market in all senses. I much prefer to concentrate on strengthening the regulators to ensure that we can, in that way, enable content to be diverse.
Okay. So, you're focusing on Ofcom and its role.
Yes, Ofcom. And, of course, the BBC is an independent organisation, but we believe that what was achieved—it was achieved before I joined the Government—I think it's a great success the agreement that enabled changes in the charter renewal process of the BBC, and it's a very good model, and it's a model we intend to follow, certainly in the way that Ofcom is developing.
Okay. You said in your written evidence that you don't want to see a further relaxation or removal of the current localness rules on commercial radio. What then do you think should be done about ensuring that Welsh broadcasters are transmitting Welsh news, given the paucity, as you have already highlighted, of print services' coverage of Welsh politics?
Well, I'm not as concerned as—. I'm not only concerned about the coverage of politics. I'm concerned about the coverage of Welsh news or news generated about Wales generally and also in relation to democratic issues, particularly—what happens in local government, what happens in regions in Wales; it's not just about what happens here. The issue there is to draw attention as clearly as we can to the understanding, which has not emerged sufficiently clearly in the DCMS approach, that it's not just about the United Kingdom, which many UK politicians, even when they're speaking in Scotland and in Wales, describe as a nation. The United Kingdom is a multinational state, and always has been. That's a historical fact. But they don't think of it like that very often, so they talk about the UK, and then when they talk about 'national' they tend to conflate that with the UK, and then they talk about local, but the bit they miss out is that in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there is a whole polity that considers itself to be a province—or whatever side you're on in Northern Ireland, so to speak—or a nation in the case of Wales and Scotland. So, that has not been reflected in the policy thinking of DCMS. But I hope that we can ensure that Ofcom, through the membership from the nations, can more clearly develop that sense of the UK as a multinational state in the area of broadcasting and culture and telecommunications and all the other responsibilities of Ofcom.
But focusing on commercial radio and its role in what people listen to in Wales—it's just under 40 per cent of people in Wales who listen to commercial radio—you don't think that there's anything further to be done to ensure that they are covering all-Wales news.
Well, you heard your earlier witnesses say that people were listening to what they were listening to, and because they were listening to what they were listening to, that's what they wanted.
Well, commercial operators, unless they're regulated, will of course just go for the lowest common denominator—
Yes, exactly. What we are trying to develop in this paper and in our general approach is the importance when decisions are being made in policy terms—and I'm referring especially now to a perception of the category of 'nations' by DCMS in its way of approaching broadcast regulation. That is the area in which we as a Government need to speak out clearly and therefore to argue that the people of Wales have to have a choice in relation to being able to represent themselves on media and have a public discourse that is national in that sense. But I don't think that is done just by regulation; it's done also by a cultural debate with the broadcasters about their role within the greater society, and I didn't see much sign of that this morning in the evidence you had.
But unless there are regulations in place, they will simply transmit whatever they're transmitting to the rest of the United Kingdom.
Yes, but I don't think that it's possible for us to regulate in the area of broadcasting as a Welsh Government ourselves, because clearly broadcasting is not devolved. It has to—
Okay, so we should just accept our lot.
No, that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that we need to work through the regulatory mechanisms that we have. And, therefore, Ofcom presents that opportunity, among other regulators in this area.
Rwy'n deall ei bod hi'n anodd iawn ceisio atal dadreoleiddio gan Lywodraeth yn San Steffan lle mae'n rhan o'u hideoleg i ddadreoleiddio, ac eich bod chi'n gweld mai'r ffordd i ddylanwadu ydy trwy'r cynrychiolydd Cymreig ar fwrdd Ofcom. Ond, wrth gwrs, un llais ydy hwnnw mewn bwrdd o wn i ddim faint o bobl. Mewn ffordd, onid ydych chi'n gwneud yr achos dros ddatganoli darlledu fel yr ateb tymor hir, fel bod pobl Cymru wirioneddol yn gallu dylanwadu ar yr hyn sydd yn digwydd o ran y cynnwys, o ran y diwylliant, o fewn y darlledu sydd gennym ni yn fan hyn? Nid ydych chi eisiau ystyried edrych ar y materion yna, yn ôl beth rydych chi wedi ei ddadlau yn y Siambr.
I understand that it is very difficult to try to prevent deregulation by a Government in Westminster where it's part of their ideology to deregulate, and that you see that the way to influence is via the Welsh representative on the Ofcom board. But, of course, that's one voice on a board of I don't know how many people. In a way, aren't you making the case for devolution of broadcasting as a long-term solution, so that the people of Wales can genuinely influence what's happening in terms of content, in terms of culture, within the broadcasting that we have here? You do not want to consider looking at those particular issues, according to what you've said in the Chamber.
Nid yw'n bolisi Llywodraeth Cymru i ddatganoli darlledu oherwydd ein bod ni'n credu bod yr economi ddarlledu yn bwysig iawn i ni yng Nghymru, a'n bod ni eisiau gweld cryfhau yr economi ddarlledu yng Nghymru. Mae'r hyn rydym yn ceisio ei wneud ar y funud—ac rwy'n ddiolchgar iawn am yr arweiniad rydym yn ei gael gan arweinydd dinas a sir Caerdydd, Huw Thomas, a'r ymgyrch i geisio denu pa ran bynnag sy'n bosibl i'w denu o Channel 4 wedi ei had-drefnu, denu hynny i Gymru—rwy'n meddwl bod hyn yn gynhyrfus iawn. Rwyf eisiau gweld Cymru yn cael ei gweld—. Nid datganoli darlledu rwyf eisiau ei weld yn digwydd, ond bod Cymru yn dal i ddarlledu mwy a mwy yn y ddwy iaith, a hynny ar gymaint o lwyfannau ag sy'n bosibl, gan fod yr economi ddarlledu sydd wedi datblygu yma yn allweddol i ddatblygu diwylliant a swyddi, nid jest yng Nghaerdydd, ond yn y gogledd ac yng Nghymru yn gyffredinol.
It's not the policy of the Welsh Government to devolve broadcasting because we believe that the broadcast economy is very important to us here in Wales, and that we want to see the broadcast economy strengthened in Wales. What we're trying to do at the moment—and I'm very grateful for the leadership that we've seen from the leader of Cardiff council, Huw Thomas, and the attempt to attract whatever part of Channel 4 after re-organisation that can possibly be attracted to Wales—is very exciting. I want to see Wales being seen—. It's not the devolution of broadcasting that I want to see; I want to see Wales continuing to broadcast more and more in both languages on as many platforms as possible, because the broadcast economy that's developed here is crucial to the development of culture and jobs, not only in Cardiff but in north Wales and in Wales more generally.
Jest i ddod yn ôl un waith: beth rydym ni wedi bod yn ei drafod y bore yma, mae yna ddatrysiad iddo fo, sef gwneud rhywbeth ein hunain. Mae'n siomedig nad ydych chi ddim hyd yn oed yn ystyried—. Mi fyddwn ni yn gwthio, yn amlwg, i jest ddechrau ystyried yr opsiynau ynglŷn â datganoli elfennau o ddarlledu. Ond mi wna i ei adael o'n fanna, achos rydym yn anghytuno.
Just to come back one final time: what we've been discussing this morning, there is a solution to it, namely to do something ourselves, and it's disappointing that you're not even considering—. We would push you to just start considering the devolution of elements of broadcasting. I'll leave it there, because we disagree on that.
Jenny, a oes unrhyw beth arall gyda chi?
Jenny, do you have anything else?
I think the major issue around commercial radio is the monopoly that Arqiva has on the FM and the DAB signals in Wales, and if the Government isn't prepared to get the UK Government to do something about that, I don't see how we're going to move forward.
Well, can I put this back in your court, as they say in tennis? If you can provide me with a proposal or recommendation in your committee on which way we should do this, of course, I'll consider it, but I know of no practical way through the current mechanism, because on the one hand, we can't argue for a broadcast economy that benefits Wales because it's part of the greater UK broadcasting economy, and argue for deregulation on a Wales basis. I don't see how that is possible—or non-deregulation on a Wales basis. I don't see how that's possible.
Well, all we're asking for is that Government acts to break up monopolies, because otherwise they will always increase, but also that whatever UK legislation we have reflects the reality of the different nations.
I very much regret that this matter was not addressed properly earlier on, as this monopolistic, or duopolisitic, situation was developing. That was the problem, I think.
Okay. Suzy Davies.
Diolch. Jest cyn i fi droi at radio cymunedol, a allaf ofyn am yr iaith Gymraeg ar orsafoedd masnachol? Rydym wedi clywed gan Nation Radio'r bore yma nad ydyn nhw'n credu bod yna ddyfodol cynaliadwy i orsaf fasnachol yn y Gymraeg, ac rydym ni wedi clywed hefyd gan Marc Webber fod Ofcom wedi llywyddu dros fethiant marchnad. A ydych chi’n cytuno bod Ofcom wedi bod yn eithaf gwan ar hyn? Achos rwy’n gwybod lle rydych yn sefyll ar ddadreoleiddio, ond a ydy Ofcom wedi bod, fel y dywedais i, yn wan?
Thank you. Just before I turn to community radio, can I just ask about the Welsh language on commercial radio stations? We've heard from Nation Radio this morning that they don't believe that there is a sustainable future for a commercial station in the medium of Welsh. We've also heard from Marc Webber that Ofcom has presided over a market failure. Do you agree that Ofcom has been relatively weak on this? Because I know where you stand on deregulation, but has Ofcom been, as I said, weak?