Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu - Y Bumed Senedd
Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee - Fifth Senedd22/01/2020
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Bethan Sayed AM|
|David Melding AM|
|Delyth Jewell AM|
|John Griffiths AM|
|Mick Antoniw AM|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Phil Henfrey||ITV Wales|
|Rhodri Talfan Davies||BBC Cymru Wales|
|BBC Cymru Wales|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Angharad Roche||Dirprwy Glerc|
|Martha Da Gama Howells||Clerc|
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 09:36.
The meeting began at 09:36.
Diolch, a chroeso i'r Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu yma y bore yma. Eitem 1 ar yr agenda yw cyflwyniadau, ymddiheuriadau a dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau. Mae Carwyn Jones wedi rhoi ymddiheuriadau am ei fod yn sâl ac mae Delyth Jewell yn mynd i fod yn hwyr oherwydd problemau trên sydd yn rhywbeth arferol ar hyn o bryd, mae arnaf ofn. Oes gan unrhyw Aelod rhywbeth i'w ddatgan yma heddiw? Nag oes. Diolch yn fawr iawn.
Thank you, and welcome to the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee here this morning. The first item on the agenda is introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest. Carwyn Jones has apologised because he's ill and Delyth Jewell will be late because of train problems, which is something that's quite usual at this time, I'm afraid. Do any Members have anything to declare here today? No. Thank you very much.
Symud ymlaen at eitem 2: trafodaeth ynghylch 'Sgrin Fach: Trafodaeth Fawr' sydd yn cael ei redeg gan Ofcom ac rydym ni'n mynd i fwydo i mewn i hynny fel pwyllgor, ac hefyd, tra bod y darlledwyr yma, rydym hefyd yn mynd i ofyn cwestiynau ynglŷn â'r ymchwiliad i ddatganoli darlledu sydd yn cychwyn heddiw gyda chi. Felly, no pressure gyda'ch atebion chi yn hynny o beth.
Rydym yn croesawu Rhodri Talfan Davies, cyfarwyddwr, BBC Cymru; Phil Henfrey, pennaeth newyddion a rhaglenni, ITV Cymru Wales; Magnus Brooke, cyfarwyddwr polisi a materion rheoleiddio, ITV; ac hefyd Owen Evans, prif weithredwr, S4C. Mae'r rhan fwyaf ohonoch chi wedi bod yma o'r blaen, heblaw am Magnus. Hoffwn i eich croesawu chi yma y bore yma.
Ac, fel arfer, rydym yn cael trafodaethau ar sail themâu gwahanol. Felly, bydd Aelodau Cynulliad yn gofyn cwestiynau wrth i ni fynd ymlaen, os yw hynny'n iawn gyda chi. Ac felly, byddaf yn cychwyn gyda'r cwestiwn cyntaf—cwestiynau rydym wedi efallai edrych arnynt o'r blaen, felly os ydych eisiau amrywio eich atebion yna plis gwnewch.
Jest o ran arferion gwylio yng Nghymru, sut ydych chi'n credu bod yr arferion gwylio wedi newid dros y blynyddoedd? Ydych chi'n gweld y newid hwnnw yn eich mudiadau penodol chi? Hapus i rywun gychwyn.
Moving on to item 2: a discussion on 'Small Screen: Big Debate', which is being run by Ofcom and we're going to feed into that as a committee, and also, while we have the broadcasters here, we're also going to ask questions on the inquiry into the devolution of broadcasting that starts today with you. So, no pressure with your answers in that regard.
We welcome Rhodri Talfan Davies, director, BBC Cymru Wales; Phil Henfrey, head of news and programmes, ITV Cymru Wales; Magnus Brooke, director of policy and regulatory affairs, ITV; and also Owen Evans, chief executive, S4C. Most of you have been here before, except for Magnus. I'd like to welcome you here this morning.
And, as usual, we have discussions on the basis of different themes. So, Assembly Members will ask questions as we go on, if that's okay with you. And, therefore, I will start with the first question—questions that we have perhaps looked at before, so if you want to vary your responses then please do so.
Just in terms of viewing habits in Wales, how do you think viewing habits in Wales have changed over the years? Do you see that change in your specific organisations? Happy for anyone to start.
Wel, efallai, beth fyddai'n help yw—. Mae pawb yn gwybod fod pethau yn newid. Mae pethau yn newid yn dibynnu ar ba oedran ŷch chi, mae pethau yn newid yn dibynnu beth yw eich diddordebau chi ac mae pethau yn newid yn dibynnu ar ba fath o genres rydych chi'n gwylio.
Rydyn ni wedi gweld newidiadau mawr yn y ddwy flynedd ddiwethaf, ond, wrth gwrs, mae hwn yn batrwm sy'n mynd i, fi'n credu, gyflymu dros y blynyddoedd i ddod, wrth i bobl fynd o wylio llinol ar amser, ar y sgrin, yn y nos neu beth bynnag, i wylio catch-up neu i wylio ffurf hollol wahanol o gynnwys newydd, fel rydyn ni'n gweld efo pobl ifanc. Felly, jest fel esiampl i chi, dros y flwyddyn ddiwethaf, rydyn ni wedi gweld—. Cofiwch, o ran digidol yn erbyn llinol, mae rhai pobl yn dweud mai digidol yw popeth. Mae digidol yn tyfu bob blwyddyn ond mae llinol dal yn bwysig iawn i bob un darlledwr.
Dros y flwyddyn ddiwethaf, mae darlledu llinol S4C dros y Deyrnas Unedig i gyd i fyny 13 y cant. Ond mae Clic, sef ein chwaraewr ni, lan 110 y cant; mae iPlayer—cynnwys S4C—lan 45 y cant; mae Facebook i fyny 30 y cant; mae YouTube i fyny 74 y cant. Felly, beth rydyn ni'n ei weld yw'r patrwm o bobl, fesul blwyddyn, yn sifftio o wylio'n llinol i wylio catch-up, i wylio recordiadau neu i wylio'r math o gynnwys nawr sydd yn tyfu, sef cynnwys sydd ddim ar y brif sgrin o gwbl.
Ac, felly, un o'r pethau i S4C dros y ddwy flynedd ddiwethaf, wrth i ni lansio pethau fel Hansh a dramâu digidol, yw bod mwy a mwy o bobl yn gwylio short form, medium form, yn enwedig y bobl ifanc sydd nawr, bellach, ddim rili'n mynd i'r brif sgrin ac sydd ddim yn defnyddio'r Western Mail na'r Daily Post i weld beth sydd ymlaen ar y teledu, ond sydd yn edrych ar eu ffrindiau nhw ac ar trydar ac ar bethau sydd yn fyw i benderfynu beth maen nhw'n gwylio. Felly, mae'r patrwm yn newid, a dyna pam mae'r maes digidol, amlygrwydd a phethau fel hynny yn holl bwysig i'r darlledwyr Cymreig.
Well, perhaps, what would help is—. Everybody knows that things are changing. It depends on your age, it depends on your interests, and things change depending on what genres you choose to view.
We have seen major changes over the past two years, but this is a pattern that I think will accelerate over ensuing years, as people shift from linear television at a particular time, on a screen, in the evening or whatever, to move towards catch-up or to choose totally different new content, as we see young people doing. So, just as an example, over the past 12 months, we have seen—. Do bear in mind, in terms of digital against linear, some people say that digital is everything. Digital is growing every year, but linear is also very important to every broadcaster.
Over the past 12 months, linear broadcasting on S4C over the UK is all up, it's up 13 per cent. But Clic, which is our media player, is up 110 per cent; S4C content on iPlayer is up 45 per cent; Facebook is up 30 per cent; YouTube is up 74 per cent. So, what we're seeing is a pattern of people, year on year, shifting from linear to catch-up, to view recordings or to view the kind of content that is now growing, which is content that isn't shown on the main screen at all.
So, one of the things for S4C over the last two years, as we launch things such as Hansh and our digital dramas, is that more and more people are viewing short form, medium form, particularly young people who now don't really watch television in the traditional way and don't look at the Western Mail or the Daily Post to see what's on television, but they look to their friends, they look to Twitter and they look to live content too in order to decide what they watch. So, the pattern is shifting, and that's why digital, prominence and things like that are crucially important for Welsh broadcasters.
Jest o ran ychwanegu at hyn, ydy e'n wahanol i weddill—? Rydych chi'n sôn am Brydain, ond ydy e'n wahanol i trends gweddill Prydain, neu ydy e'n debyg i'r trends?
Just in terms of adding to this, is it different—? You're talking about Britain, but is it different to the trends in other parts of Britain, or is it similar to the trends?
Dwi'n meddwl, yn gyffredinol, fod y trends yn weddol gyson ledled y Deyrnas Gyfunol. Dwi'n meddwl bod yna bethau penodol sy'n werth eu trafod. Dwi'n meddwl bod arferion o ran defnydd cyfryngau'n newid, ond hefyd mae beth sy'n cael ei ddefnyddio yn newid, ac mae'r twf ymhlith y to iau o ran gwylio cynnwys Americanaidd yn sylweddol. Mae twf Netflix yn benodol wedi bod yn sylweddol iawn, ac felly mae peryglon diwylliannol.
Os ydych chi'n ystyried diwylliant Prydeinig neu ddiwylliant Cymreig, mae'r ddau, dwi'n meddwl, yn faterion pwysig achos mae twf Netflix—. Er bod yna fuddsoddiadau i bethau fel The Crown, mae'r twf ac mae'r buddsoddiad creiddiol yn digwydd draw yn yr Unol Daleithiau a dwi yn meddwl bod yna issue yn fanna. Mae yna issue o ran pwyslais diwylliannol. Ac ochr yn ochr â thwf y llwyfannau cymdeithasol yn benodol, mae amlygrwydd cynnwys Prydeinig a chynnwys Cymreig ar y llwyfannau cymdeithasol yn fater y mae eisiau i ni ganolbwyntio arno, achos does yna ddim rheolaeth gan unrhyw un ym Mhrydain dros amlygrwydd y cynnwys ar y gwasanaethau hynny, ac yn sicr ymhlith y to iau—o dan 40, efallai o dan 30—mae pwysigrwydd y llwyfannau yna bellach yn fater sylweddol.
I think, generally speaking, the trends are quite consistent across the UK. I do think that there are specifics that do deserve discussion. I think that viewing habits and the use of media is changing, but also what's used is also changing, and the growth among the younger generation in terms of viewing American content is substantial. The growth of Netflix specifically has been very substantial indeed, so there are cultural risks.
If you look at UK culture or Welsh culture, I think both are important issues because the growth of Netflix—. Although there's been investments in things such as The Crown, the core investment and the core growth happens over in the United States, and I do think that there's an issue there. There is an issue in terms of cultural emphasis. And along with the growth of social media platforms particularly, the prominence of UK content and Welsh content on the social media platforms is an issue that we do need to focus on, because there is no regulation by anyone in the UK over the prominence of content on those platforms, and certainly among the younger generation—those under 40, perhaps under 30—the importance of those platforms is now a substantially important issue.
Ocê. Ac ITV.
Okay. And ITV.
Well, I think one of the things that I would say is, just to pick up on the point about genres—. So, if we draw it back to Wales for a moment, if you take news, for example, I still think there's a considerable audience for television news on the linear channel. In the last 10 years we've actually increased the number of viewers watching the 6 o'clock news about Wales, over those 10 years, by share and by volume. So, there's something like 50,000 more viewers watching the 6 o'clock news about Wales on ITV than were doing so 10 years ago. So, I think we need to be conscious of the different changes to viewing habits by genre. I think some of the impacts on drama, there's a risk that we translate that into all genres, and we need to take that into consideration, particularly in a Welsh context.
And I think the other sort of aspect to that as well is that the content that we're providing, the trust that sits behind the news that we provide about Wales, for example, is a terrific commodity online. So, again, compared with say 10 years ago, not only are we growing audiences for television news, but that gives us the scale to create content that we can then distribute online. So, 10 years ago our online operation for video news in particular, because the internet was more text based—. Now the internet is all about stories being told through video, it's something that we do, and we're seeing huge growth in the consumption of trusted news about Wales on those online platforms.
So, I think, in all answers to all the questions I think we're going to give, it is a very complex picture. But I think if you draw it back down to Wales, I think the essential point I would want to get across is that the role that television news plays in Wales remains really important for a significant number of people and that there is the opportunity to grow that audience if you get some things right terms of what you do. And then what we have managed to do as well is not only create an audience online for that trusted content, but that has given us the scale to also then provide content for other broadcasters. So, we are then providing current affairs in the Welsh language for S4C.
And as Owen was saying, one of the things that we're very keen to do is to explore how we can tell current affairs stories through the Welsh language for younger people. And, again, we're seeing some very exciting developments through S4C's investment in younger journalists telling stories for younger audiences. So, our coverage, for example, of the Welsh election through the platform that we created—the brand we created online, called Dim Sbin, was really popular with a young audience. So, I think that if you look at it right across the piece, you've got news that is trusted from ITV, which is being, yes, consumed by an older age group, but that same journalism has the potential to reach younger audiences about Wales. If you sit that in the context of the provision of news about Wales in Wales, I still think it makes a really important contribution.
Efallai'r peth pwysicaf sydd o dan hyn i gyd yw: blynyddoedd maith yn ôl, roeddwn i'n gweithio i BT, ac ar y pryd y cwestiwn mawr oedd access to broadband. Drwy Ofcom a'r Llywodraeth fe orfodwyd local loop unbundling. Beth oedd local loop unbundling oedd agor lan y rhwydwaith i bawb, ac roedd hynny'n meddwl bod pawb arall yn cael access i'r gynulleidfa, yn cael access i dai ac yn gallu gwerthu dros y dechnoleg oedd yna.
Data yw'r local loop unbundling newydd, rwy'n credu. Beth yw'r perygl inni yn y fan hyn yw, yn yr un ffordd, os ydych chi ar Facebook neu bethau fel hynny, mae'r algorithms yn gweithio bellach fel eich bod chi ond yn gweld beth rydych chi wedi'i weld o'r blaen. Os ydych chi'n mynd mewn i batrwm ble dŷch chi'n gwylio stwff Americanaidd neu bethau fel yna, mae e bron yn torri mas y math o gynnwys sydd yn rhoi balans ac sydd yn rhoi her i bobl i feddwl am beth maen nhw'n ei weld. Mae newyddion yn faes pwysig yn hyn.
Felly, efallai i'r dyfodol, wrth inni weld beth sy'n mynd i ddigwydd o gwmpas darlledu, mae'r amlygrwydd ac mae'r defnydd o ddata am beth mae pobl yn ei wylio, a sut y gall pobl fel ni ymgysylltu ac, actually, cael pobl i ddeall bod y cynnwys yma ar gael, yn bethau sydd yn hanfodol.
Perhaps the most important thing under all of this is: many years ago I worked for BT, and at the time the big question was about access to broadband. Through Ofcom and the Government, local loop unbundling was enforced. What local loop unbundling did was it opened up the network for everybody, and this meant that everybody had access to the audience and to houses, and could sell over the technology that was there.
Data is the new local loop unbundling, I think. The risk here is that, in the same way, if you look at Facebook and such things, the way the algorithms work now means that you only see what you've seen before. If you get into a pattern where you view American materials and stuff like that, it almost blocks out the sort of content that provides a balance and that provides a challenge for people to think about what they see. News is an important area in this regard.
So, perhaps in the future, as we look to see what's going to happen around broadcasting, prominence and the use of data around what people are viewing, and how people like us can engage and actually get people to understand that this content is available, are what's essential.
Thank you. Magnus.
I think it is important to put some numbers around some of these things, just in terms of what people are doing, because it is, as Phil says, a complicated picture. I think what's interesting is that young people consume more of our content on demand. So, about 30 per cent of 16 to 34 tv consumption in Wales is actually on demand, certainly for ITV, for younger people. But, I think also, actually, younger people are still watching quite a bit of linear television, particularly certain genres. So, drama, I think, is a different category, but I think that if you look at entertainment, if you look at sport and if you look at news, you still have pretty decent consumption of linear tv.
Actually, our hypothesis is that that live content—that live channel—is going to continue to have resonance and importance for quite a long time to come. If you look at the numbers, about one hour and 49 minutes, I think, of 16 to 34 consumption per week was actually linear in Wales. Yes, of course, there's twice as much streaming video on demand viewing from those aged 16 to 34 than the average. So, they're doing different things, but I think the linear, live experience, bringing a mass audience together, will continue to be really quite important for Wales and for the whole of the UK.
For all of us, as broadcasting organisations, there's an importance in terms of our ability to bring the whole of the UK together, because we reach, I think, pretty much everybody in Wales, as ITV, every year, and that includes more or less every 16 to 34-year-old, who will engage with ITV in some form—our linear channel—every year.
Ocê. Rhodri, yn glou.
Okay. Rhodri, just quickly.
Just briefly, because I agree with everything that's been said, I would say that if we're going to maintain the success of the public service broadcasters within the UK context, particularly with younger audiences, the intervention required, in terms of regulation around prominence, is critical. It won't happen simply through the creative success of the public broadcasters. We have a strong ecology in the UK because it's been heavily regulated and it's created genuine competition between the public broadcasters, and those public broadcasters have been deliberately given significant prominence on the key consumption platforms.
Ofcom has come up with some very clear recommendations in that space. I think the sooner we can see that turn to legislation to ensure that on all of the key platforms—all of the smart television platforms—the key UK broadcasters have the prominence they require, I think is critical. I think creativity is, obviously, the No. 1 ingredient, but allied with that you require an intervention to make sure people can find the content easily.
Diolch yn fawr iawn. Mae hynny wedi bod yn ddefnyddiol iawn. Cwestiwn clou olaf gen i yw: ydych chi'n credu eich bod chi angen gwneud pethau'n wahanol i weddill y Deyrnas Unedig? Ac i S4C: ydych chi'n credu bod angen mwy nac un sianel Cymraeg ei hiaith er mwyn gallu dod i'r afael â rhai o'r sialensiau o ran oed ac yn blaen dŷch chi'n sôn am o ran genres ac yn y blaen, neu a yw eich gwaith o ran creu fideos a bod yn ddigidol yn gallu cwmpasu hynny? Does dim rhaid ichi gyd ateb achos mae amser yn mynd i fynd, ond jest cwestiwn clou gen i i orffen.
Thank you very much. That's been very useful. A quick question from me: do you think that you need to do things differently to the rest of the UK? And to S4C: do you think that there is a need for more than one Welsh language channel in order to address some of the challenges in terms of age and so forth that you've mentioned, genres and so forth, or is your work in terms of creating videos and being digital able to encompass that? Not all of you have to answer, because time is going to go on, but just a quick question from me to finish.
Mae yna ddau rhan i'r ateb i fi. Yn gyntaf, mae pethau wedi newid. Os wyf i'n meddwl nôl ddegawd, y trafferth i S4C oedd efo un sianel, roeddet ti'n trio gwneud rhywbeth i bob un, ac felly gallet ti diwnio i mewn ar nos Wener ac efallai gweld rhywbeth roeddet ti wrth dy fodd yn ei wylio ac wedyn ei droi e ymlaen nos Sadwrn a byddai rhywbeth y buaset ti byth eisiau ei weld yn dy fyw di, neu wrth i waered.
Beth mae digidol yn ei wneud yw, wrth i fi ddeall mwy a mwy amboutu pwy sy'n gwylio beth a phwy ydyn nhw, dwi'n gallu targedu rhaglenni penodol at bobl penodol. Felly, fel esiampl, cyn 'Dolig am y tro cyntaf erioed, gwnaeth S4C ddechrau defnyddio'r data dŷn ni wedi bod yn ei gasglu drwy Clic i farchnata i bobl beth oedd yn dod i fyny y buasen nhw'n debyg o licio. Felly, ar nos Wener, buasen i'n cael tecst i ddweud bod rygbi ymlaen dros y penwythnos; buasen i ddim yn cael tecst i ddweud bod Junior Eurovision ymlaen os oedd y system yn gweithio.
Beth mae hwnna'n meddwl yw bod amserlennu'r prif sgrin, actually yn mynd yn llai pwysig dros amser. Dwi'n hollol gytuno efo Magnus, dwi dal yn gweld rôl bwysig iawn i'r prif sgrin o gwmpas pethau byw, pethau lle mae'r teulu i gyd yn eistedd i lawr, pethau sy'n gyfoes. Ond mae mwy a mwy o'r deunyddiau eraill yn gallu cael eu dosbarthu dros lwyfannau digidol.
Felly, rhan gyntaf yr ateb yw bod cael un sianel llinol yn llai o faich nac efallai'r oedd e ddegawd yn ôl. Ail hanner y cwestiwn yw mae e'n grêt i ddweud, 'Nawr mae pethau'n rhydd, mae gyda chi'r llwyfannau yma i gyd i gysylltu â phobl.' Wedyn mae'n rhaid ichi benderfynu pa lwyfannau, pa fath o gynnwys a sut i ddosbarthu a sut i farchnata a gwneud yn siŵr bod y bobl yma yn gwybod ac yn deall bod y rhaglenni yma ymlaen. Dyna pam mae pethau fel amlygrwydd, dyna pam mae deall beth mae pobl ifanc, yn enwedig, yn ei wylio a'r fath o lwyfannau a fformats maen nhw'n eu licio—ac maen nhw'n tueddu gwylio bach o bopeth. Mae yna job i bob un ohonom ni ddeall y patrymau o fel mae pobl yn dechrau mynd at i actually wneud yn siŵr ein bod ni'n gallu gwneud y mwyaf sydd yn bosib mas o'r dechnoleg a llwyfannau sydd ar gael inni.
Y peryg yn hyn i gyd yw, unwaith eto, fel mae pobl yn mynd yn fwy cyfyng yn y ffordd maen nhw'n denu gwybodaeth i'w hunain achos yr algorithms sy'n tueddu cael eu defnyddio, fod y cynnyrch a'r cynnwys mae'r PSBs yn eu gwneud yn gallu cael eu torri mas, fel mae ein pobl ifanc â'r sifft at wylio pethau Americanaidd a phethau fel hynny.
Felly, na, dydw i ddim yn credu bod y baich o gael un sianel llinol yn gymaint ag oedd e flynyddoedd yn ôl. Mae'r llwyfannau yn rhoi siawns inni gyffwrdd â phobl mewn ffordd wahanol, efo deunydd gwahanol, ond y ffordd dŷn ni'n gallu ymgysylltu a chyfathrebu â'r cyhoedd yw efallai'r peth pwysicaf wedyn os ydych chi'n cael y cynnwys yn iawn.
There are two parts that I need to respond to. First, things have changed. If I think back a decade, the problem for S4C was to try to do everything for everyone with one channel, and so you can tune in on a Friday evening and see something that you absolutely love, and then on a Saturday evening, there's something that you would never choose to watch, or vice versa, of course.
Now, what digital does is, as we understand more and more about who's watching what and who they are, then we are able to target specific programming at specific people. So, for example, before Christmas, for the first time ever, S4C started to use the data that we've been gathering through Clic to market material at people that they would likely enjoy. So, on a Friday evening, they'd get a text to tell them that there was rugby on over the weekend, but wouldn't get a text to say that Junior Eurovision was on, if the system worked.
What that means is that the main screen schedule becomes less and less important over time. I entirely agree with Magnus, I do still see an important role for linear in terms of live events and events where families sit down and watch together, contemporary stuff. But, more and more, the other material can be distributed over digital platforms.
So, the first part of my response would be to say that having one linear channel is less of a burden than perhaps it was 10 years ago. The response to the second half of the question is that it's great to say, 'Now, you are free, you have all of these platforms that can connect with people.' But then you have to decide what platforms, what content and how you're going to distribute and market that content in order to make sure that people know and understand that these programmes are available. That's why things such as prominence and understanding what young people, particularly, are viewing and the kinds of platforms and formats that they like—and they do tend to be quite diverse in their viewing habits. Then there is a job for each and every one of us in understanding those patterns that people are moving towards in order to ensure that we can make the most of the technology and platforms available to us.
The risk in all of this is, once again, as people become more limited in terms of how they access information because of the algorithms used, that the content of the PSBs can be cut out, such as the trend among young people to watching American material and things like that.
So, no, I don't think the burden in having one linear channel is as great as it was years ago. The platforms give us an opportunity to access people in a different way, with different material, but the way that we can engage and communicate with the public is perhaps the most important thing if you get the content right.
Ocê. Rhywun yn glou o ran yr elfen Brydeinig, ac wedyn mae'n rhaid inni symud ymlaen.
Okay. Somebody, quickly, just with the UK element, and then we have to move on.
Rwy'n dueddol o gytuno ag Owen o ran teledu. Yn radio, dwi'n meddwl bod y dadleuon ychydig yn wahanol. Mae o'n brofiad byw—mae rhyw 90 y cant o ddefnydd audio dal yn fyw. Ac er bod yna gynnydd mewn podcasts, y gorsafoedd byw sydd dal yn cynnal rhan fwyaf o'r ecoleg radio. Buaswn i'n dweud petai'r gallu gennym ni, buasem ni ishio gweld ni'n ehangu'r ddarpariaeth yn y ddwy iaith. Dwi'n meddwl bod yna gyfyngiadau sylweddol i gynnal gorsafoedd sydd yn aml-genre, sydd yn ceisio gwneud tipyn o bopeth. Mae'r farchnad fasnachol o ran radio wedi llwyddo i gynnal oherwydd ei bod hi wedi datblygu sianeli penodol iawn. Mae lot o sianeli niche fel bod y gynulleidfa yn gwybod yn union beth maen nhw'n mynd i'w gael o bob gorsaf. Dwi'n meddwl y buasai fo'n rhyfedd mai'r unig ateb yng Nghymru fuasai un gwasanaeth cenedlaethol yn y ddwy iaith, ac felly petai'r adnodd gennym ni, buasem ni eisiau ymchwilio i weld sut mae ehangu hynny.
I tend to agree with Owen on television. In radio, I think the arguments are slightly different. It is a live experience—about 90 per cent of audio material is still live. And even though there is an increase in podcasts, the live stations are still maintaining most of the ecology of radio. I would say that if we had the ability, we would want to see us expanding the provision in both languages. I do think there are substantial limitations in maintaining stations that are multigenre and are trying to do a little bit of everything. The commercial market in terms of radio has succeeded in maintaining this because it's developed very specific channels. There are a number of niche channels, so the audience knows exactly what they're going to get from each station. I think it would be strange that the only answer in Wales would be one national service in both languages, and I think if we had the resource, we would want to look into how to expand that.
Ocê, diolch. Sori, mae'n rhaid i ni symud ymlaen at gwestiynau eraill a modelau cyllido. David Melding.
Okay, thank you. Sorry, we've got to move on to other questions and funding models. David Melding.
David, are you with us?
Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd. You caught me in the act then. [Laughter.]
Sorry. I thought you were checking something on your—[Inaudible.].
I was on my device, but it just came up with the BBC's site on football fixtures, which gives you an idea of what interests—
I'm very happy to take questions on that.
Well, I was on there to see when the licence fee was first introduced because I don't think—. And I was doing that whilst you then called me, Chair. I don't think it's quite as old as the BBC, but it was brought in fairly early—late 1920s, I think, but, anyway, I can be corrected—when the only broadcast services were the BBC's, and I know then ITV came along in the 1950s, and from the mid 1980s, I suppose we just had this proliferation. So, how robust is the licence fee model at the moment? Because we're already going to have a fairly deep debate about it, it seems to me, politically. My assumption is that you'll get through this round, but the next one, that debate may have gone a lot further in fundamentally questioning this type of taxation. So, where do you think you are and what are the most robust arguments, really, to defend the current model?
Well, I think you're right: there are some stages. I mean, it's clear that the new Government wants to look at the particular question of decriminalisation. That's an area that John Whittingdale looked at in 2015, and actually against his original instinct, came to a view that decriminalisation would be a retrograde step; it would be more expensive and create more risk in terms of the secure funding of public services.
Just to remind committee, where we are in the process is that we obviously have the charter through to 2028, but there is a commitment to a review of the licence fee funding level in 2021 in readiness for the 2022 financial year. But I think the BBC view on this is simply that whenever we have gone—and we do this consistently—and given audiences a range of funding options for the BBC, nobody likes tax, but consistently the least worst option is the licence fee. And there's a lot of discussion—'Could the BBC have a subscription model?', 'Could it move to all of those things?'. There are lots of good creatives in the BBC who can do anything, but it wouldn't be the BBC, and it wouldn't fundamentally be an organisation that, in a sense, is uniquely committed, on a UK level, to serving everybody and giving value to all audiences, and that is the fundamental principle of the licence fee. That is why it is effectively levied on every household, because it is a contract in which the BBC reciprocates by ensuring that the portfolio of programmes and services it delivers serves every audience.
And, I think, if we move away from that—and there are plenty of alternative European models to the licence fee structure in the UK—but if we move away from a universal principle that everybody pays a little in order that everybody gets value, I think you would simply change the nature of the organisation. That's a conversation and a debate we should be up for, but I don't think the BBC's universal ethos would remain intact if you fundamentally shifted its funding model.
And do you find—?
Just to build on that point, I suppose. The principle of Government intervention is normally around policy and market failure, and I think the Reithian tenets that broadcasting is about—educate, inform and entertain—still hold true and possibly, are more powerful now than they were even then.
We have a world at the moment where people's visibility of information is being constricted. That's the only way you can describe the way that's happening and the way that algorithms typically drive things. That's what they're designed to do. So, I think the fundamental question is: in today's broadcasting economy, is there still a role and is there still a need for the type of services that BBC, S4C and others provide? And I would think that there are still probably fairly clear arguments to say that a lot of the provision the BBC provides would not be provided were they not there.
Now, S4C's in quite an odd position because we've actually been funded by three different models. We've been funded through advertising; we've been funded through a direct grant from the Home Office; and we've been funded, increasingly, and will be entirely, through the licence fee from 2022 onwards, and each one of those has its own merits. But I think the fundamental principle for me is that where you have market failure, if you agree there's market failure, then a subscription model doesn't really tally with funding that type of activity.
Just to note the case for ITV in the sense of how it operates within the broadcasting ecology, obviously, we have to earn it before we can spend it, but we still operate on the principles of universality. So, everything that we produce is made universally available in Wales; it's made available free to viewers, which I think, increasingly, television content is not—or content that's consumed on television is not; and, of course, it's no direct cost to Welsh taxpayers. And I think, yes, of course, there's a really important debate around the licence fee, but I wouldn't want that to overshadow the contribution that commercial public service broadcasting makes, particularly in a Welsh context, because we provide content that has a broad range, that doesn't concentrate on specific genres. As I've said, we produce news, we produce current affairs, we produce the alternative to the BBC's news and current affairs in Wales. But we'll also produce high-end dramas and we'll also produce popular factual entertainment. So, we provide viewers with a whole range of content and the ability to discover content that they might not ultimately have come to the channel to watch. I think that those are also important points to make in the funding model conversation.
And Rhodri, I was going to move on, actually, to the decriminalisation issue, but it was the first thing you mentioned. Presumably, if it is decriminalised, the model is fundamentally weakened—is that your case? Because there's a whole issue of the salience, at the minute, of how pressing the licence fee is on individuals, particularly younger people, but if they had a fairly easy avenue not to pay and then lots of them didn't pay, the whole model would start to get weakened, and it would put you, the BBC, in a very different relationship to—. You say you have a relationship with households, it's almost a relationship with citizens, isn't it, directly, that you wouldn't have if your funding was via just general taxation, for instance?
That's right, and certainly, you can talk to a number of the other members of the European Broadcasting Union who've gone through those changes, where they've moved from licence fee levy to direct taxation. And it does fundamentally change the relationship with Government in terms of the separation that would be healthy in any settlement.
I think the point on licence fee evasion, if you decriminalised, when the independent review was done in 2015, the view was that it would be in the order of a £200 million-to-£300 million-per-annum impact on the licence fee. In many ways, I suspect—and this is my guess—the picture would be worse than that now because of the rise of more of the subscription video on demand services, so I think the incentive might be greater. I think there are significant risks around it.
The other point is that last year, five people were imprisoned for not paying the licence fee in the whole of the UK, and those five were imprisoned for multiple breaches of many different types of utility payments. So, this notion that decriminalisation—and there's an issue about burden on courts, I get that—but the issue of actually imprisonment is an extreme exception and is never, ever for the single offence of evading, specifically, the licence fee.
Sori, David, mae Mick Antoniw jest eisiau gofyn cwestiwn.
Sorry, David, Mick Antoniw just has a brief question.
Just a point on that. I mean, of course, you can have something that's a criminal offence without having a penalty of imprisonment. We've just removed the penalty of imprisonment for non-payment of council taxes on the basis that if someone can't, there are plenty of means of recovering money. If someone has—[Inaudible.]—what on earth is the point, et cetera? So, you could have a slightly varied form of this because—
You could. And again, it's not my area of expertise, but my only nervousness about that comparison is I suspect there's a significant amount of the UK press that would give a profile to decriminalisation of the licence fee that they are not giving to the decriminalisation of council tax payments in Wales.
Yes, but it wouldn't be decriminalisation. All we'd be saying is that you keep it as a criminal penalty, but you just remove the imprisonment element, because if there are only five anyway, what on earth is the point? It adds an unpleasant flavour to something that, although it's a criminal offence, is effectively largely not dissimilar from a civil one.
That's right. The downside of moving to a civil issue rather than a criminal issue is the number of county court judgments that you would have against some of the poorest people in society. Some of the decisive evidence when John Whittingdale's independent review took place was, actually, if you move to a civil basis, what you end up with is a significant number of people who face county court judgments that they wouldn't have faced through the criminal route.
You might have both, actually.
You could have both, yes.
Okay. That's fine.
I'd like to hear your reaction to the House of Lords select committee report on public service broadcasting that suggested that there'd be a BBC funding commission, or broadcasting funding commission or whatever, that brings a level of objectivity into the current relationship. Do you think that would strengthen the situation, and would it have any effect on these arguments about the robustness in the long-term future of this model?
I think that the Lords recommendations are strong. I think they're consistent with the BBC's very clear view that we cannot—we cannot—do a licence fee settlement again in the way that the last two have been done. There has to be a level of open public discussion and transparency in the process. This is a civic good and there needs to be a civic discussion about the level of investment that goes into the BBC. So, I think the notion that there is some level of separation in terms of the review of the BBC, and a recommendation on funding being made independently of Government then going to Government and then being received by Government, feels to me a big step forward from the process that we've experienced the last two times.
And just to pick up on that House of Lords report, it sits against a bigger backdrop as well. I think one of the sub-headlines of their report was, 'You will miss it when it's gone.' At the last committee meeting, I used that tsunami sort of example: there's a real danger that, as policy makers and indeed us as broadcasters, our activity is we're on the beach and we're picking up litter, and it's absolutely a noble activity, and it's absolutely something we should be doing, but just out there on the horizon there's a tsunami coming down the track. That's a debate that Ofcom has provoked around Small Screen: Big Debate. There is a big debate to be had about the whole future of the system of public service broadcasting, which obviously includes commercially funded public service broadcasting as well as that supported by the licence fee.
In our excellent brief here that our researchers prepared, we have got the quote from Lord Hall. It seems almost to reduce the process to parody:
'I feel very, very strongly that this mustn't happen again',
that is, the last way it was negotiated.
'It happened in 2010 over a period of a few days, behind closed doors, and it happened again in 2015.'
So, the whole process is a rushed one. Ministers can deal with the decision-making process and the officials—. It doesn't really seem a very strategic way to deal with these things. But if it is more open and transparent, you've really got to nail these issues, haven't you, about why the model is still robust? Because an open process, presumably, would be open to all sorts of people to go to the commission and say, 'Okay, but it should be much lower and just covering public service and a bit more, like sport or whatever.'
I don't think the BBC should be fearful of those debates. There were 180,000 submissions in favour of the BBC during that last process. Of course, there are legitimate criticisms of the BBC in some of its coverage, but my view is that it still commands very, very significant support across the country. I think the range of what it does, the depth of what it does, its role in Welsh and UK society—those are arguments we should make confidently. The only other thing I would say is, if the BBC was frustrated by the last two licence fee processes, I expect S4C was even more frustrated.
I was going to ask Owen—[Inaudible.]—mentioned S4C in this context, but presumably that could work in that model of a funding commission as well. What would your views be on that?
I think a certain degree of objectivity is always helpful in any discussion over funding, in particular. We've had significant cuts in funding over the past decade. The situation is a little more stable now, which is great, but how do you guarantee a suitable funding model, I suppose, is one of the big nirvanas of all government. And I think the fact that, sometimes, these decisions are made behind closed doors is to the detriment of what a proper settlement would be. We have a statutory recommendation that we are suitably funded. You define 'suitable'. So, I think anything that provides more transparency, but also provides a greater surety and that actually links the public good with the public value put on something, is probably a good thing.
I was going to move to ITV, so you may want to incorporate—[Inaudible.] The ITV funding model, I think, for nearly 40 years was a very robust one. I think it's fair to say that, for quite extensive public service obligations, you had a monopoly, in effect, over broadcast advertising, which was highly lucrative and therefore justified the public service commitments. That model is under real pressure, but is it still robust enough, as long as we're realistic, presumably, with the public service obligations to provide a universal service in terms of news coverage and being available to everyone? How do you think this model is likely to be sustained?
Well, 'It's changing', is the answer. The advertising model is absolutely changing. And of course, the primary responsibility, in the first instance, is for ITV, because it's our business and we want to continue to innovate, which we're doing. We're investing, for example, in addressable advertising through the InMobi platform, which is an online advertising training platform. We're looking at investing in ITV Hub, which is clearly an important future source of advertising revenue, particularly as younger viewers can see more and more of their content on demand and through linear simulcast. So, the first responsibility is definitely for ITV.
I think what I would say, though, is that the backdrop to this entire conversation really is about globalisation. It's about globalisation of advertising, globalisation of content production and globalisation of distribution. And I think what you're going to see over the next five to 10 years, and we're already seeing very actively, is a set of global distribution platforms, not very many of them, which are doing deals globally with a set of advertisers and content providers. I think the exam question for all of us, in a way, in the UK is: how do we create a national broadcasting ecology to sit alongside that global ecology? Because otherwise, the global ecology will win.
The truth is we see, in dealings with the platforms, with tv manufacturers who are becoming tv platforms, as well as Android, which is increasingly powering tv platforms, which is Google, and Amazon, who are about to enter the tv distribution market in a very big way with television sets in the UK—what we see is that they do deals with global players. They've done deals mostly with Netflix, with Amazon, with YouTube, soon to do deals with Disney+ and with Apple TV, for the biggest and most prominent display on your home screen when you turn on your device.
That's a little bit of what Rhodri was talking about in terms of prominence. So, that prominence debate, I think, is going to be fundamentally important as to whether there is space on those devices, on the recommendations, on the things that are thrown up by Alexa and so on, for UK content, for Welsh content, that speaks to a local audience, and a nation's audience, alongside of course the terrific content being made by Netflix and Amazon and others. Those two things need to co-exist, but I think you're going to need to intervene as a state to create that space, because there are asymmetric economics between the global economics and the local economics.
What I would say also is that there are two other aspects of that. It's not just about prominence—this is a terribly important point, which the Lords did alight on—there's a question about inclusion. So, you have to be there at all. So, just saying, 'Actually, our channels ought to be prominent', is not enough, because clearly there are scenarios in which platforms say, 'Well, in which case, we won't have them, because we've done this deal with the global players, and actually it's very lucrative, it's a global deal, and there's somebody in the UK knocking on the door saying, "We'd like to be prominent", well, that's inconvenient, so we won't have it.' So, I think you've got to be on as well, as prominent.
And I think the third bit is, 'On who's terms?', because you can be on, but what we know about the platforms is—and we know this from what happened to the press, for example, when their consumption shifted more and more online. What happened was that their economics were undermined by the platforms. We know, for example, that Amazon's standard terms globally are to take 30 per cent of your advertising revenue if you appear as an app on their on-demand platform—and, and, and. And that's not just about that, it's about ad skipping, it's about recording, it's about ways in which a relatively small number of platforms are going to increasingly extract increasing amounts of value from national players, undermining the economics of commercial PSBs.
So, you've got to address those three elements, I think. And I think platforms, as the press are absolutely now—. There was a very interesting article by Mark Thompson yesterday—now at The New York Times, formerly of the BBC—talking about how platforms are going to have to make more of a contribution to fund, for example, journalism, going forward. I think the same's going to be true of tv.
Okay. Thank you. Again, Mick Antoniw.
I'll just ask a couple of things that intrigue me out of this. When we're, for example, considering the options available to the BBC—how it operates, what its status is and so on—we know, with the licence fee, you can predict, more or less, the amount of income. You work against that, and basically you get what you pay for. And what you pay for is what you actually want. So, the whole key thing with the BBC, for example, is what the people want the BBC to actually be. And that seems to me to be a crucial part of the payment.
With ITV, you work in a slightly different way, because you're a commercial body, you are dependent on the income you get from advertising. So, it depends on your commercial viability, which means your profitability. So, in order to assess the degree of obligations upon that, you have to assess what the value is. What is the profitability of ITV? Does it make a profit? I get very confused by all this, because I see Netflix—one of the biggest-growing producers of material—and I understand they don't make a profit. You wonder how that can possibly carry on when the house of cards comes tumbling down, if it will come tumbling down, I don't know. But with ITV, we seem to have these debates, but I've never really understood what the level of profitability is for ITV. And that seems to me to be the framework within which we'd assess what the degree of quality of your obligations are.
There are a few things there. I think the first thing is, if you take ITV as a whole, it's a series of different businesses. So, there's a broadcasting business, there's a production business, and then there's a distribution business. Arguably, our production and distribution businesses are not relevant, I think, for this conversation. Because that's just about making programmes for other people. So, that's a bit like—I don't know—if we also had a sideline in making cars. It's a different sort of business, making programmes for Amazon or for whoever we make programmes for, the BBC, for Sky, whoever it is.
If you look at the broadcasting business, we do make money in the broadcasting business, we do make a profit, we are a profit-driven organisation. Inevitably, we've got shareholders who expect a commercial return. I think the question, though, in relation to PSB obligations, because we're competing with a host of other people who have no obligations, the critical question for us is: what is it that we get, as it were, in value from intervention, whether that's prominence or spectrum? What's that worth to us that we wouldn't otherwise have if we were purely a commercial broadcaster?
And the judgment from our point of view is: is that value sufficient to pay for things? Particularly nations' and regions' news, which is very expensive. Is it sufficient to enable us to continue to do that? We'd very much like to continue to do it. We're committed and we want to be a PSB. But the truth is, because we're competing with all of these players who have many of the same shareholders that we do, we need to continue to make a viable commercial return. And it does mean that it's difficult for us to take on obligations that don't make a profit.
I understand that. What I'm trying to get at is: what level of profit do you make? So, on broadcasting, what's your turnover and what's your profit?
The broadcasting business: we make, off the top of my head—I'd have to write to you with what the profits are. We make substantial profits on our broadcasting business, and—
It's just that those figures are relevant.
Those figures are in the public domain; they're in our annual report. Our advertising revenue, I think, was about £1.8 billion or so last year. I can't remember what the exact level of profits is. But of course we make a profit, we make a reasonable rate of return for our shareholders; that's a number in the public domain. But I would suggest that's not entirely the answer to the question.
Because you can look at Sky and say, 'Well, actually, what level of profit do Sky make?', and they make very substantial profits. You could look at any number of other players—Disney or others. Yes, there are people who have a different model—Amazon and Netflix have a different model, which is about sheer growth, and they have a set of capital providers who are prepared to provide capital on the basis of capital growth rather than on the basis of profit and return. So, there are other people in the market operating in a slightly different way. But the result is the same thing. It's all about levels of profit, and therefore people look at us and put us alongside other players.
I do feel a bit like I'm in an episode of Yes Minister a little bit, because I've lost track completely of that, because it just seems to me the core factor is this: in assessing what should be the obligations, the actual value of it is dependent on the profit you can make and the profit you're likely to predict for future years. It's just that I have great difficulty understanding what the quality of the outcome of the discussion with Ofcom and the regulations are without at least having some idea as to what the value of the contracts are.
I think, from my perspective of that, the way I like—. I agree with you it is really quite difficult to understand. But, if you imagine an ITV that doesn't have the PSB obligations upon it, then that creates your baseline. So, if we have—and we do have and we're very proud to have—the obligations that we have, what is that worth to us in terms of extra revenue? Once you get above that ceiling of 'ITV would make a "profit" in Wales were it not to be a PSB', then really what you're asking is, 'So, by being a PSB, how much is that worth extra to us and how much are we having to pay in terms of the obligations?', and it's that balance between those two figures. So, it's not the overall profitability of the broadcasting business, it's the difference between those two.
And to reassure you—
Can we get to the regulation questions, because we are running quite substantially—
Well, yes—. Okay. I was going to come on to Ofcom, and I wasn't sure whether to start off by just putting it bluntly that it's gelignite or—[Inaudible]—in terms of Ofcom, but is the model of regulation of Ofcom fit for the digital age?
Shall I start with that? I'll just start off by—and it's relevant to your question—finishing the previous one, which is actually to reassure you there is a rigorous process of looking at what benefit we get, which we went through with Ofcom around the time that we renewed the licence in 2012-13, where they looked very hard at what's the value of these benefits and what are you, ITV, delivering in return for those benefits, absolutely making sure that we weren't getting anything that was unreasonable or unjustifiable, based on the cost of the obligation and the benefit that we were getting in return. So, there is quite a rigorous process around looking at that to make sure that the public get the best value from intervention. So, to reassure.
On the model, I think Ofcom, from our point of view, is a highly effective regulator. It's well-resourced, it hires good people, it's shown itself to be quite sophisticated, quite evidence-led, which is important, and we have a high-quality conversation, I would say, with Ofcom. We, frankly, don't agree with everything they do, but that's as you would hope and expect, and we think that—. Nothing stands still—they need to keep working hard and maintain the culture and the approach to regulation that they've had, but we do have confidence in the model of regulation.
So, gelignite for you. What about the BBC?
Well, I'd cut and paste that answer in for the BBC as well. Clearly, we're under a new regulatory regime since the new charter. It's a pretty robust relationship. As Magnus was saying, it's a very evidence-based relationship, which has always been Ofcom's hallmark.
I think that it's probably just worth saying, in relation to some of the discussions we've had to this point around the growing power of the west coast tech companies in the US, that that will require intervention beyond the remit of Ofcom—and I think the UK Government is currently looking at recommendations—because that's really a trade and industry question of how the UK Government, certainly post Brexit, wants to exercise or how it wants to intervene into that space, and that's not really in Ofcom's gift at the moment.
So, I think, in the broadcast space, the traditional media spaces, we have a really solid and robust relationship with Ofcom. I think there's a regulatory and intervention question beyond Ofcom that is very relevant to the conversation we've had to this point.
Which is, how do you give—? Take the point about advertising: if you look at search engine advertising in the UK, 90 per cent of that revenue is going to Ofcom [correction: Google]; display ad advertising, 50 per cent is going to Facebook. These are extraordinary shifts in commercial advertising that we've seen over recent years, and extraordinary consolidations of data in a small number of companies that have enormous sectoral power. And I think—I forget, is it Justin Furman, I think, that has just finished a review for the UK Government on what regulatory path the UK Government might want to take in terms of its relationship with those tech companies. That is beyond the remit of Ofcom is all I'm saying. So, when we talk about how we protect space for UK PSBs and UK media within this new, global ecology, we would have to go beyond the current powers of Ofcom.
Yes, and it's an environment that's continually changing. Just one final question, because I think you've answered some other points I wanted to ask: obviously, one of our concerns is the extent to which the regulation by Ofcom actually delivers what we want within Wales—that is Welsh language, Welsh English language, Welsh-based material. Obviously, that's varied in terms of the two positions that you have—well, three positions; S4C, BBC and with ITV. Generally, do you think that the regulatory powers and the way in which Ofcom works actually delivers probably what is the best deal for Wales within the environment we're in?
I think the deal that Wales has is largely a function of the contribution that S4C and BBC and ITV make to that space—it's not a function of the regulation. Certainly, the BBC's contribution to Wales significantly pre-exists Ofcom's taking on the reins of the regulator a couple of years ago. A question I'm often asked is how much autonomy do we have in Wales, in terms of our decision making. I've been in this role for seven years. I can, hand on heart, say that I cannot remember a moment where London, whatever 'London' is, directs decision making on the ground in Wales. So, what we have in Wales—and we're happy to be here, accountable for those decisions we take in Wales, but they are decisions very much made in Wales by the broadcasters independently.
So, are we really just one step away from effective devolution of broadcasting, and would that make a significant change? Is it a significant step forward? Are we ready for that?
I suppose there are a few questions with that whole question of devolution of broadcasting. The formal answer is that the BBC doesn't have a position.
Yes, of course.
I suppose the questions—
We have to ask it anyway.
Well, of course you do. [Laughter.] I suppose the questions you might want to ponder are—. There's a number. One goes back to the discussion we've just had: if you believe that the fundamental issue facing all public broadcasting in the UK is globalisation, what regime, what regulatory regime, is most likely to be robust in creating space for public media? It's interesting—it's the US federal authorities and it's the EU that have been the most robust in those relationships to this point. The UK is now going to have to step up, on leaving the EU, and take on some of that regulatory oversight. Would devolving to Wales assist in that process or not?
The second question I would ask is a funding question, which is that there's a very significant amount of licence fee income coming to Wales. Would a devolved settlement match or exceed that? I suppose the third question, which is a more philosophical one, is that I think we know that audiences in Wales want both UK services and Welsh services. Give them a binary choice of one or the other and you'll get a pretty short answer from them. So, how do you ensure that there's balanced provision in Wales between distinctive representation of Wales as a nation and that bringing together of the whole UK? That's a non-answer. [Laughter.]
No, no, it was very helpful—it's a very helpful comment.
We'll come on to some more of those issues later, but, John, you've got questions on prominence. A lot of them have been raised, but can you raise some of the ones that you think haven't?
Yes. Diolch, Cadeirydd. Yes, you've mentioned it, and, obviously, it's a significant factor, isn't it, in terms of public service broadcasters and guaranteeing a strong present and future. So, in terms of prominence and the electronic programme guide, is there anything in particular you would point the committee to in terms of what might need to be changed in terms of that guide?
Do you want me to go? I think that the first thing to say is that the current regime is clearly only about linear broadcast services. And it's served us well, because, if you turn on a television set, you will find the top five services are the main PSB services—S4C is right up there in Wales—and that's a system that serves us well. And it's done two things, I think. The first is to make sure that people can easily access those services. Secondly, it's helped to maintain a mass audience for those services and create and underpin a set of national conversations, which I think we've done well out of as the UK, and the crucial thing is it hasn't actually deterred investment in multi-channel tv.
We have an incredibly flourishing multi-channel market, a flourishing SVOD market. We are in the lead in Europe, actually, in what we've done. So, we have achieved this alchemy, actually, of a balance between PSB, the national conversations, and a set of global services—often US services—which have provided real choice and complement. What we're really saying is you need to maintain that system. It kind of works and it works for everybody, and the way to do that is to make sure that you transition the world of linear prominence into a world of on demand, into a world of streamed services and new ways of accessing content.
So, it isn't just the case that you access content clearly through the new channels now: it's through tiles on the front screen of user interfaces, where you can click on a Netflix tile or a YouTube tile and get into the world of Netflix, the world of Amazon, the world of BBC or ITV. So, it's the front screen, but it's also recommendations, and recommendations are increasingly driven by algorithms, which are often nudged in the direction of commercial relationships. So, it's not entirely that they're neutral—they're actually influenced by a set of underlying commercial relationships, often global relationships, which result in more content from particular players being surfaced. So, I think we need to look pretty holistically at how you do this.
Now, it's not a trivial challenge, but we absolutely think that it's possible to do it, and to work out a regime that ensures that you transition from a world of linear prominence to on demand and stream prominence. But, as I said earlier, it's not just about prominence; it's about inclusion and it's about the balance, the fair balance, between the platform and the broadcast. Otherwise, the platform would simply take all the value from the content and actually it won't go back into investment in the content in the first place.
Okay. In terms—. Sorry, Owen, did you want to come in?
Actually, just to build on Magnus's last point there, about the platform taking the value from the screen or the content, so to speak, one of the big myths is that digital makes it cheaper for broadcasters. The amount of money that S4C and others have had to pour into building platforms, to building apps that sit on these televisions, is quite considerable. The is-adeiledd—the infrastructure—that we have to use to service these new technologies is quite significant.
I think Ofcom's approach for the recent consultation for linear is to be welcomed. S4C were very strong supporters of what came from that. I think part of the purpose of the 'Small Screen: Big Debate' is about what's going to happen in the digital wild west, so to speak, for the future. But that is critical to us, because of some of the reasons that Magnus mentioned before, about the fact that these new platforms now are so powerful that they could effectively create an asymmetry of information, excluding people they do not want from a commercial perspective to be visible there—that's one that is very powerful and very worrying for us. We're a small player. We're a secondary channel compared to some of the big boys, so to speak.
The issue for us is that I would love to have the S4C app on every—. We have it on the Samsung tv. I'd love to have it on every LG tv, on every Panasonic tv, on every Sony tv. I would love to have it on the TiVo box, I would love to have it on the Virgin box, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But, if I was given the freedom to do so—and that would be fantastic—I couldn't afford to do it, because the amount of money I would have to be diverting from the main screen would mean that it would have a material impact on the type of quality and breadth of programmes that I offer to my core audience. So, there are very, very big questions about the resource implications that come with the freedom that I think we probably need to discuss in the same realms.
Yes, just in terms of internet-connected devices, then, would it be possible to guarantee prominence for public service broadcasters? And, if so, how do you think that might be achieved?
So, the Ofcom proposals cover internet-connected televisions—so, smart tvs—for, if you like, packaged content providers. And I think—. The BBC's view on that is the Ofcom recommendations are right and the sooner we legislate on those the better, because this is a fast-moving space. If I have a reservation, it's simply that social media is still outside this conversation, and what public service obligations sit against the likes of Facebook or YouTube and what level of ambition we have to ensure that—. Because YouTube, with children particularly, is a really dominant player now. There are no public service obligations sitting against them and there are no proposals on the table for doing that, and I think in the next two or three years that will become more and more of a concern as we start to understand the cultural impact of the amount of consumption that's going on of those services with younger audiences.
It's a very interesting point. We've just launched a new service that you may know about called The Rundown, which is an online service on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook for 14 to 17-year-olds, because we were very conscious that they were consuming news, if at all, in very different ways and not necessarily going all the time to broadcast programmes. What we've done is set up this news service as a bit of a trial, actually, and what's really interesting is it's done in a form that is very familiar to them if they're using Instagram regularly, and actually we've been amazed by how much demand there has been for that. So we've had 8.5 million views of that service since we launched it last September. It's nothing to do with traditional linear television. It's not even to do with our own on-demand service—it's entirely on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, but it's quite successful, and what it also gives you is the ability to swipe up and go straight into the ITV News website. So if you want to look at a story in more detail, you can go onto the website, and it's cleverly done. We did a lot of research, and what we realised was that if you put it out at 3.45 p.m., the first thing children do when they come out of school, when they're finally allowed their phones again, is look at everything that's happened on Instagram while they were in school, and actually if you can capture them at that moment, they will look at the news service.
So, I completely endorse Rhodri's point: we need to be clever about how we think about these issues going forward because it's not just going to be about this packaging of tv services in the home, very important though that undoubtedly is going to be, and absolutely critical as that's going to be, there may be other things we need to look at too.
Perhaps I could just ask, in terms of Welsh audiences, is there anything distinctive and different in terms of the impact of these prominence issues on the audience in Wales?
Voice activation as well, in terms of the Welsh language.
Mae'r iaith Gymraeg yn ddiddorol yn hyn i gyd, achos dyw'r dechnoleg i gefnogi hyn ddim eto yn bodoli. Mae yna sawl bit a sawl trywydd y mae'r Llywodraeth yn eu dilyn, ac mae pobl eraill yn eu dilyn, ond y broblem hyd yn hyn yw does dim diwedd i'r broses. Rwy'n credu, os ydych chi eisiau cadw'r iaith yn fyw, yn rhan o beth rydym ni'n ei ddefnyddio bob dydd, mae'r ffaith ein bod ni'n gorfod defnyddio Alexa a phethau fel yna drwy Saesneg yn faich.
Felly, mae yna ddau beth yng Nghymru: mae'r iaith Gymraeg yn bendant, ac mae'r dirwedd hefyd yn wahanol, sy'n meddwl bod band llydan ddim cweit mor accessible ag y mae e yn Lloegr, efallai. Gyda gwasanaethau newydd, mae'r ffaith bod yr iaith fwy neu lai yn cael ei gwahanu o'r dechnoleg newydd adnabod llais yn broblem i ni. Felly, mae'n rhywbeth y mae S4C wedi bod yn trio ymrwymo ag eraill i drio ei sortio. Ond, os buaswn i'n onest, dwi ddim yn gallu gweld bod unrhyw gynllun y gallem ni gyfiawnhau yn bodoli eto inni gracio hwn, ac mae'n rhaid cael un.
The Welsh language is interesting in all of this, because the technology to support this doesn't yet exist. There are several bits and a number of routes that the Government is going down, and others are going down, but the problem at the moment is that the process is endless. I do think that if you want to keep the language alive and ensure that it's used every day, the fact that we have to use Alexa and so on through the medium of English is a problem.
So, there are two things in Wales: the Welsh language, but also the landscape is different, which means that broadband isn't quite as accessible as it is in England, perhaps. For new services, the fact that the language is set apart from new voice recognition technology is a problem for us. It's something that S4C has been grappling with, with others, and trying to sort. But if I'm honest, I can't see that there is any justifiable plan in place in terms of how to crack this, but we need such a plan.
Jest ar lais, mae'r BBC yn datblygu cynnyrch penodol ar hyn o bryd, a'r bwriad yw y buasai hwnna'n cael ei ddarparu yn ddwyieithog ym Mhrydain, a buasai yna ddatblygiadau Cymraeg. O ran Radio Cymru, mae'r cynnwys ar gael, ond ar hyn o bryd mae'r cyfarwyddyd yn gorfod digwydd yn Saesneg. Felly, y bwriad yw ymestyn hwnna yn y Gymraeg.
Yr ail beth y buaswn i'n dweud yw—ac mae hwn yn fwy mewnol i'r BBC—dŷn ni'n awyddus iawn i weld ar yr iPlayer a BBC Sounds ddatblygiadau a fydd yn caniatáu inni roi mwy o amlygrwydd i gynnwys Cymreig, yn sicr o ran yr hafanddalen, achos mae'r gallu—. Dyw e ddim ynglŷn â maint y cynnwys, ond y gallu i roi ein prif gyfresi yn amlwg iawn i bawb, ac mae'r gallu gennym bellach o ran sign-in, felly rŷn ni'n gwybod pwy sydd yng Nghymru. Rŷn ni wedi cael llwyddiant yn barod o ran yr homepage newyddion, y brif homepage newyddion; mae gennym ni'r rheolaeth nawr yng Nghaerdydd. Felly, rŷn ni'n gallu rhoi straeon Cymreig yn syth i mewn i'r homepage a thynnu straeon mas os nad ŷn nhw'n berthnasol i Gymru. Dŷn ni eisiau gweld yr un egwyddor yn cael ei hymestyn allan yn bellach nawr i'r iPlayer a BBC Sounds.
Just in terms of voice, the BBC is developing specific content at the moment, and the intention is that that would be provided bilingually in the UK, and there would be Welsh developments. There is Radio Cymru, and the content is available, but currently the instructions have to happen in English. So, the intention would be to extend that to Welsh.
The second thing I would say—and this is more internal to the BBC—is that we are very keen to see on iPlayer and BBC Sounds developments that would allow us to give more prominence to Welsh content, certainly in terms of the homepage, because the ability—. It's not about the size of the content, but being able to place our main series in a prominent place for all to see, and we have the ability now in terms of sign-in, so we know who is in Wales. We have had some success already in terms of the news homepage, the main news homepage; we have control now in Cardiff. So, we can put our Welsh stories straight on the homepage and remove stories from there if they're not relevant to Wales. We want to see the same principle being extended now to iPlayer and BBC Sounds.
Mae Delyth Jewell yn dod ymlaen nawr i newyddion, so mae hwnna'n ffitio yn dwt. Diolch, Delyth.
Delyth Jewell is about to come on to news, so that fits perfectly. Thanks, Delyth.
Roeddwn i eisiau gofyn am y cynnwys sydd ar gael ar gyfer cynulleidfaoedd Cymru. Rŷn ni newydd gael etholiad, so, yn gyntaf, a ydych chi'n teimlo bod cynulleidfaoedd yng Nghymru wedi cael digon o wybodaeth ynglŷn â materion datganoledig ar y newyddion?
I want to ask about the content that's available for Welsh audiences. We've just had an election, so, first of all, do you feel that audiences in Wales have had sufficient information in terms of devolved issues on the news?
O ran yr etholiad?
In terms of the election?
O ran yr etholiad sydd newydd fod, ond yn gyffredinol—. Wel, mae hynny'n gallu bod yn enghraifft, ond yn gyffredinol. Yn amlwg, mae pawb yn gwybod bod hwn yn broblem, ond a ydych chi'n meddwl bod hwn yn broblem ac ydy e'n gymaint o broblem nawr ag y mae wedi bod yn hanesyddol, a beth ydych chi'n ei wneud er mwyn ceisio datrys y broblem?
Well, yes, in terms of the election that we've just had, but generally—. Well, that's an example, but more generally. Clearly, everyone knows that this is a problem, but do you think that it's a problem and is it as much of a problem as it's been historically, and what are you doing to try to resolve the problem?
O ran y BBC, dwi'n sicr yn meddwl bod y sefyllfa wedi gwella, ond gallaf i'n bersonol bwyntio at enghreifftiau lle dyw e ddim yn berffaith ac mae yna le i wella. Dwi yn meddwl ei bod hi'n gymhleth. Roedd hi'n drawiadol iawn eleni fod y pleidiau yng Nghymru yn gwthio polisiau oedd wedi eu datganoli'n gyfan gwbl i Gymru yn ystod etholiad cyffredinol. Felly dydy o ddim jest yn fater i'r darlledwyr, mae'n fater hefyd o sut mae'r pleidiau'n chwarae'r gêm. Buaswn i jest yn dweud hynny—
Well, just from the point of view of the BBC, I certainly think that the situation has improved, but I can personally point to examples where it's not perfect, where there is still room for improvement. I do think it's complex. It was very striking indeed this year that the parties in Wales were pushing policies that were entirely devolved to Wales during that general election campaign. So it's not just a matter for the broadcasters, it's also a matter of how the parties play the game. So, I would just make that point.
Back at you. [Laughter.]
—yn dawel fach. Mae hynny'n issue.
Y peth arall byddwn i'n ei ddweud, a dwi ddim eisiau mynd i mewn i'r stori, ond yn amlwg roedd Cymru yn arwain News at Ten am gwpwl o nosweithiau ac roedd newyddiaduraeth o Gymru yn arwain y prif fwletinau yn wythnos gyntaf yr etholiad. Felly, does yna ddim diffyg awydd yn Llundain am straeon mawr o Gymru.
Y peth arall sy'n gymhleth oedd bod y drafodaeth ynglŷn â'r NHS yn gwbl berthnasol i Gymru achos roedd hi ynglŷn â maint buddsoddiad ychwanegol ac, yn amlwg, o dan Barnett, byddai'r arian yna hefyd yn llifo i Gymru. Felly, mae ceisio creu muriau rhwng materion datganoledig ac sydd heb eu datganoli—. Dwi'n meddwl ei fod o'n gymhleth a dyw e ddim, fel roeddwn i'n dweud, jest yn fater i'r darlledwyr.
I'll just quietly make that point. But it's an issue, certainly.
The other thing that I would say, and I don't want to pursue the story, but Wales was leading on News at Ten for a few nights, and it was journalism from Wales that was topping the main bulletins during the first week of election. So there isn't a lack of desire in London for major stories from Wales.
The other thing that's complex is that the discourse on the NHS was entirely relevant to Wales because it related to the scale of the additional investment and, clearly, under the Barnett formula, that funding would flow to Wales. So, trying to put up walls between devolved and non-devolved issues—. I think that it's very complex and, as I said, it's not just an issue for broadcasters.
Buaswn i'n cytuno. Mae'n dal i fod camddealltwriaeth rhwng gwleidyddion yn Llundain a gwleidyddion yng Nghymru am beth sydd wedi cael ei ddatganoli, felly mae hynny'n cael ei chwarae trwy beth rydym ni'n ei wneud. Dyw hi ddim yn broblem i ni, mae'n broblem i'r genedl, I suppose.
Beth rydym ni wedi ei weld yw bod mwy o bobl ifanc wedi dechrau ymddiddori yn beth sy'n digwydd yn wleidyddol dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf, ac efallai un o'r llefydd lle mae'n rhaid inni yng Nghymru wella yw sut rydym ni'n cyfathrebu efo'n pobl ifanc. Rydym ni wedi gwario lot o arian ar 16 i 34; dydyn nhw ddim yn tueddu i wylio llinol. Os wyt ti'n gofyn i berson ifanc, 'Ble ti'n cael dy newyddion?', maen nhw'n tueddu i ddweud, 'From my phone.' Does dim cliw ganddyn nhw le mae'n dod o, mae e jest yn dod o'u ffonau. Ac mae hynny'n beryg.
Roeddwn i lan yng Nghaerfyrddin ar noson yr elecsiwn. Ie, roedd y BBC wedi gwneud rhaglen ffantastig inni ar draws llwyfannau ac, am y tro cyntaf, gwnaethon ni arloesi ac fe wnaeth Radio Cymru ddarlledu'r un ffîds ag S4C. Felly, rydym ni'n gallu gweithio efo'n gilydd i wella'r cyflenwad. Ond, trwy ITV a thrwy Hansh, dwi wedi bod yn talu am brentisiaid ifanc i weithio ar glipio'r newyddion mewn ffordd y buasai pobl ifanc yn tueddu ei licio. Felly, trwy'r nos, roedd y ddwy lan yng Nghaerfyrddin yn clipio, yn defnyddio trydar, Insta, Facebook a phethau fel hynny, jest i gyfathrebu beth oedd yn digwydd funud wrth funud. Mae eisiau mwy o'r fath yna o gyfathrebu ac o siario cynnwys dros y llwyfannau newydd.
Dwi'n credu bod y gwasanaeth llinol mae'r BBC yn ei wneud yn dda iawn, ond un o'r pethau dwi'n benderfynol i'w wneud yw trio gwella sut rydym ni'n defnyddio'r llwyfannau mewn ffyrdd gwahanol, fel y mae ITV wedi ei wneud, fel y mae Channel 4 wedi ei wneud ac efallai bod Channel 5 wedi ei wneud, o gwmpas sut i ymgysylltu â phobl ifanc yn enwedig, ond hefyd pobl o bob oedran trwy'r llwyfannau digidol. Efallai dyna un o'r pynciau mawr y bydd S4C yn esblygu dros y flwyddyn nesaf.
I would agree. There is still a misunderstanding between politicians in London and politicians in Wales in terms of what's been devolved, and that's being played out through what we do. So it's not a problem for us, it's a problem for the nation, I suppose.
What we've seen is that more young people have started taking an interest in what's happening on a political level over the last few years, and perhaps one of the areas that we have to improve in Wales is how we communicate with young people. We've spent a lot of money on the 16 to 34 group. They don't tend to watch linear. If you ask a young person where they get their news, they tend to say, 'From my phone.' They don't have a clue where it comes from, it just comes from their phone. And that is a risk.
I was in Carmarthen on election night. Yes, the BBC were doing a fantastic programme for us across the platforms and, for the first time, we were innovative and Radio Cymru broadcast the same feed as S4C. So, we can work together to improve what we have to offer. But, through ITV and through Hansh, I've been paying for young apprentices to work on clipping the news in a way that young people would tend to like. So, throughout the night, the two individuals were in Carmarthen clipping, using Twitter, Insta, Facebook and so forth, just to communicate what was happening minute by minute. There is a need for more of that kind of communication and of sharing content across these new platforms.
I think that the linear service that the BBC produces is very good, but one of the things that I am determined to do is to try to improve how we use the platforms in a different way, as ITV has done, as Channel 4 has done and perhaps Channel 5 has done, around how to engage with young people in particular, but also people of all ages, through the digital platforms. And perhaps that's one of the big areas that S4C will be evolving over the next year.
Was there anything that you wanted to add?
All I would add from an ITV perspective is that, underlying your question is that sense of the democratic deficit in a devolved Wales: is the electorate as informed as it could be? It's something that we absolutely take very seriously and our view around that is that, if we can increase the number of people watching 6 o'clock news about Wales, then that will be a good thing. And, over the last decade, that is in fact what we have done. So, as I've said earlier, there are now more people watching that 6 o'clock news programme, which is dedicated to Wales, which is dedicated to the devolved settlement in Wales, than were watching it 10 years ago. And then on top of that, as Rhodri and Owen have alluded to, that content, that trusted video content, we now have the opportunity to distribute that to younger people and younger audiences in Wales, and, indeed, beyond Wales. And we are seeing huge growth in that—I think something like 60 million views last year alone—and that's of content that is trusted news, impartial, about Wales. So, yes, of course, I'm not sitting here saying that there isn't a democratic deficit, and ITV in and of itself is not going to solve that problem, but what we can do is make a contribution that grows the number of people who are getting news about Wales, and we're doing that.
Okay. I'm aware of time. Thank you.
Roedd hwnna'n rili ddefnyddiol. Roedd yna fwy o bethau roeddwn i eisiau eu gofyn, ond, yn gyflym iawn ar bwnc arall, dŷn ni wedi bod yn trafod yr angen i apelio at gynulleidfaoedd iau. O sôn am y gynulleidfa ieuengaf oll—plant—pa asesiad ydych chi yn ei wneud ynglŷn â'r cynnwys sydd ar gael, yn enwedig yn Saesneg ar gyfer plant Cymru? Achos mae Mudiad Meithrin wedi mynegi pryder, maen nhw'n dweud bod plant o Gymru sy'n gwylio—maen nhw'n sôn am CBeebies, ond dwi ddim yn meddwl eu bod nhw ond yn sôn am CBeebies fan hyn—unrhyw raglenni yn Saesneg, a does dim cyfeiriadau o gwbl at iaith, diwylliant, na daearyddiaeth Cymru. Beth ydym ni'n gallu ei wneud er mwyn—
That was very useful. There were more things I'd like to ask, but very quickly on another subject, we have been discussing the need to appeal to younger audiences. Talking about the youngest generation—children—what assessment do you make regarding the content that's available, especially in English for children in Wales? Because Mudiad Meithrin have raised a concern, they say that Welsh children—they're talking about CBeebies, but I don't think they're only talking about CBeebies—who watch any programmes in English, they have no reference to the language, culture or geography of Wales. What can we do to—
Mae hwnna'n gwestiwn da. Does yna ddim hanes gan y BBC yng Nghymru o ran diwallu cynnwys i blant. Mae yna enghreifftiau. Mae gan CBBC gyfres fawr ar hyn o bryd, Our School, sydd ym Mhontypridd. Rŷm ni newydd gyd-gomisiynu, gyda CBBC, The Snow Spider, sydd yn gyfres sydd wedi ei haddasu gan Owen Sheers. So, mae yna rai cyfresi, ond dŷch chi'n iawn, wrth gwrs: does yna ddim ymrwymiad parhaol i ddatblygu cynnwys. Ac mi fuaswn i yn sicr yn awyddus bod yna fwy o bartneriaeth rhwng BBC Cymru ac, yn enwedig, CBBC. Dwi'n meddwl bod y cyfle efallai yn fwy gyda CBBC na CBeebies. Dwi'n meddwl bod yr agwedd addysgiadol mor greiddiol ymhlith y to iau, ac mor gyson ar draws y Deyrnas Gyfunol, dwi'n meddwl bod y cyfle i amrywio yn ddiwylliannol efallai yn fwy gyda CBBC na CBeebies—maen nhw'n gymhleth. [Chwerthin.] Felly, dwi'n meddwl bod yna gyfle yn fanna, a dwi'n meddwl bod yna bwynt teg yn y feirniadaeth.
That is a good question. The BBC in Wales has no real history in terms of children's output. CBBC do have a big series at the moment, Our School, which is in Pontypridd. We've just commissioned The Snow Spider with CBBC, which is a series adapted by Owen Sheers. So there are certain series, but you're right, of course: there is no ongoing commitment to develop content. And I would certainly be eager to see more of a partnership between BBC Cymru Wales and CBBC. I think the opportunity is greater with CBBC than with CBeebies perhaps. I think the educational aspect is so central and so consistent across the UK with the younger age group, I think the opportunity to diverge culturally is more with CBBC than CBeebies—sorry, this is very complex. [Laughter.] But I do think that there is an opportunity there, and I think there's a fair point made in that criticism.
Ocê. Iawn. Diolch. Dwi'n ymwybodol o amser.
Thank you. I'm aware of time.
Dwi'n rili sori, Delyth. Roedd lot o gwestiynau eraill—mi wnawn ni ysgrifennu atoch chi os oes angen. Ond mae angen i ni gyrraedd y cwestiynau ynglŷn â rheoliadau. Ydy pawb arall yn cael yr un ateb â Rhodri Talfan Davies o ran datganoli darlledu? Ydych chi i gyd yn cael—jest ar gyfer y record—yr un barn, yn swyddogol? Ie. Ocê, diolch.
I do apologise, Delyth. There were a number of other questions, but we will write to you with those if we need to. But we need to get on to regulatory divergence. Would you all agree with Rhodri Talfan Davies, or have the same response, on the devolution of broadcasting? Just for the record, do you all have a similar view, officially? Okay, thank you.
Dim barn. [Chwerthin.]
No view. [Laughter.]
Dim barn—y farn swyddogol. [Chwerthin.] Ond jest i'w gael e ar y record. Ocê. So, i drio tynnu hwnna i ddarnau, damaid bach, sut fyddai datgyfeirio rheoliadau rhwng Cymru a gweddill y Deyrnas Unedig, pe bai datganoli yn digwydd, yn effeithio ar eich gweithrediad chi? Pe bai yna system wahanol, sut fyddai hynny'n edrych, yn eich tŷb chi? Dwi'n gwybod ei fod e'n hypothetical, ond sut fyddech chi'n credu y byddai e'n gallu gweithio, neu ddim gweithio?
The official view is that you have no view. [Laughter.] But we needed to get that on the record. So, if we can pull that apart, slightly, how would regulatory divergence between Wales and the rest of the UK, in the event of the devolution of broadcasting, impact your operation? If there were to be different systems in place, how would that look, in your view? I know it's hypothetical, but how do you think it could work, or perhaps not work?
Mae e dipyn bach fel chicken and egg. Os nad ydym ni'n deall sut mae cyfundrefn newydd yn mynd i edrych, mae'n anodd iawn i ddweud, 'Wel dyma sut mae e'n mynd i effeithio ar sut dŷn ni'n gweithredu.' Felly, buasai fe'n anodd iawn. Mae'n rhaid i ni fod yn niwtral amboutu hyn. Mae yna fanteision, mae yna anfanteision, ond mae unrhyw beth yn bosib. Ac felly, buasai'n rhaid i ni ddeall—. Buasai'n well i gael rhyw fath o straw man inni ddechrau trafod, yn hytrach na jest—. Mae yna wacter yna amboutu sut y gall hwn edrych.
It's a little bit like the chicken and egg. If we don't understand what the new regime is going to look like, it's very difficult to say how it's going to impact on the way that we work. So, it would be very difficult. We need to be neutral about this. There are advantages and disadvantages, but anything is possible. And therefore, we would have to understand—. Perhaps it would be better to have some sort of straw man for us to start discussing this, rather than just—. There is a void there in terms of how this could look.
Wel dyna'r holl reswm rŷm ni'n gwneud yr ymchwiliad yma, i fod yn onest. Rŷm ni'n cael lot o bobl yn dweud wrthym ni, fel pwyllgor, a doeddem ni ddim eisiau i'r pwyllgor yma ddod i ben cyn yr etholiad heb i ni edrych ar yr eliffant yma, sef, dŷn ni eisiau datganoli darlledu, ond dyw'r system, neu dyw'r weledigaeth glir yna ddim, efallai, yn bodoli eto. Felly, dyna beth dwi'n trio ei ofyn yw: pa fath o strwythurau dŷch chi'n credu—heb feddwl eich bod chi o blaid neu yn erbyn, byddech chi'n meddwl byddai'n gallu gweithio, neu fyddai'n gallu gweithio yn eich erbyn chi fel darlledwyr?
Well, that's why we're doing this inquiry, to be honest. Because we have many people telling us, as a committee, and we didn't want this committee to come to an end before the election without looking at the elephant in the room, in that we want to devolve broadcasting, but the systems aren't in place, or that clear vision doesn't yet exist. So that's what we're trying to draw out: what kinds of structures—whether you're for or against or neutral, what kind of structures do you think could work for you, or could work against you as broadcasters?
Dwi ddim eisiau bod yn heriol, ond dwi yn meddwl mai'r cwestiwn cychwynnol yw: beth ydy'r pwrpas? What are we trying to fix? Achos dwi'n syth yn mynd at enghreifftiau ymarferol. So, dŷn ni ar fin—dwi'n siŵr bydd ITV hefyd—cychwyn negodi hawliau'r chwe gwlad. Sut mae hwnna'n gweithio heb rym a phŵer ariannol corff Prydeinig? Mae cynnyrch newyddion y BBC yn plethu newyddion Cymreig a newyddion Prydeinig a newyddion rhyngwladol. Ydyn ni eisiau datglymu rheini? Mae'r gerddorfa sydd yn yr adeilad drws nesaf—mae hanner arian y gerddorfa yna yn dod o BBC Radio 3 ar gyfer darllediadau. So, sut mae hwnna'n gweithio? A dwi'n cytuno gyda Owen—
I don't want to be challenging, but the initial question, I think, should be: what's the underlying purpose of this? What are we trying to fix? Because I go to practical examples. We're—I'm sure ITV will be in the same position—about to start negotiation on the rights for the six nations. Now, how does that work without the financial clout of a UK-wide body? The news output of the BBC dovetails Welsh, British and international news. Now, do we want to unlock all of that? The orchestra housed next door—half of the funding for that orchestra comes through BBC Radio 3 for broadcasts. So, how would that work? And I agree with Owen—
Dyna'r math o bethau dŷn ni angen eu trafod, so—.
Those are the kinds of things that we need to discuss.
Mae popeth yn bosib, ond efallai'r cwestiwn creiddiol inni ei ddeall yw: os oes yna ddadl dros ddatganoli, beth ydy'r canlyniad rŷch chi'n chwilio amdano?
Well, yes, everything is possible, but the central question that we need to ask is: if there is an argument for devolution, then what is the outcome you are seeking?
Wel, na, yr holl bwrpas roeddwn i'n ei wneud yw i edrych ar—
Well, no, the whole purpose I'm saying was to look at—
Ond rŷch chi'n gofyn cwestiwn strwythurol—pa strwythur allai weithio—heb inni wybod beth rŷch chi eisiau i'r canlyniad—. O ran y cynnwys i'r gynulleidfa—
But you're asking a structural question—what sort of structure could work—without us knowing what you want the outcome—. In terms of the content for the audience—
Fydden ni ddim yn gallu cytuno, dwi ddim yn credu.
I don't think we will be able to agree.
Ocê, fine. Ond dyna pam mae o'n gwestiwn mor gymhleth, achos mae'n dibynnu ar beth ydy'r amcan.
Okay, fine. But that's why it's such a complex question, because it depends on what the aim is.
Ocê. Oes unrhyw un arall yn cael—? ITV.
Okay. Does anyone else have a view? ITV.
Again, I'd just echo what Rhodri's said. I suppose the question in my mind is: what is it that devolution is seeking to fix, or what is it that—you know, what's the problem that devolution is a solution to, I guess? A key question that immediately springs to my mind is that, often, with the devolution of the power to regulate in a certain area, the money flows behind that. Now, in the case of commercial PSBs, that wouldn't be the case. So, yes, you can absolutely see a structure where a body in Wales regulates the commercial provider, but, ultimately, there's no money that follows that. That's about the market in which those commercial operators operate. So, again, back to the question: what tools would that authority have, or the Assembly itself, to influence the market, which then comes back to the wider debate that we've just had, which is that that market is no longer confined by national borders or nation borders—we are now sitting within a global ecology—and how does that work?
I think also, just from a UK-wide perspective, what you wouldn't have, necessarily, are some of the efficiencies that you get, which I think Rhodri was referring to, from being part of a bigger system in terms of cost—in terms of cost and also, potentially, in terms of revenue, because, clearly, there are lots of things that we do as ITV centrally that don't have to be done in Wales. So, finance, HR—there's a lot of activity that's a shared cost, effectively, for the whole UK. And, interestingly, a lot of, increasingly, our competitors are actually sharing those costs across the whole world. So, Netflix has a budget for technology, for example, of $1.5 billion a year. That's a global budget that's spread across the whole world, and so they're at another level of efficiency compared to national players. And you do lose those efficiencies, if you choose—and it's a perfectly legitimate choice to make, but, if you choose to then have a smaller unit, as it were, of regulation, revenue, cost, you do lose those efficiencies in that conversation.
So, absolutely, to Phil's point, I think you do need to work out what's the money equation here. That's the key question, actually: how do we support this? And that conversation is happening globally, nationally. It could happen on a nation basis, but it's harder to do it there.
And going back to Rhodri's point as well, which is that all the evidence suggests—. At the moment, ITV, ITV Wales, is the most popular television channel in Wales in peak time.
I don't accept that. [Laughter.]
Let's not have a fight now. [Laughter.]
I had to get that out in some way, for the record. [Laughter.]
And there are a number of reasons for that. Of course, it's as much to do with that we're the only commercial channel available in Wales, out of hundreds, that is making content for Wales, about Wales, in Wales. But it's also about the wider schedule that is enjoyed by people in Wales, just as much as it's enjoyed by people in Scotland, England and so on. So, again, in terms of what is it that devolution is trying to solve, the appetite from the viewer is for a broad mix of content that does mix UK with Welsh content. So, again, from a devolution perspective, what is it that we're trying to fix?
Okay. David Melding.
The area, obviously, that we ought to try and look at and deserves intense scrutiny is Welsh language broadcasting. I don't know of any federal, quasi-federal or decentralised state where the minority language broadcasting is the preserve of the state, and not the part of the state that has the minority language in it. By any sort of constitutional examination you'd find this a very strange position. So, this comes directly to S4C—and Owen, this is before your time, but I've got the scars on my back from looking at this issue. It's been repeatedly examined in terms of whether S4C should be devolved, and the strong pressure in the 2000s was, 'Do not do anything—leave it in London. The transparency and examination of our budget is fairly light; we don't want it subjected, necessarily, to a much more intense scrutiny process in the National Assembly, which could lead to all sorts of results that you may wish to have avoided'—this is a generic 'you', not a 'Owen would have wanted it avoided'. That's been part of the problem if we're really frank about it, isn't it?
This is slightly before my time, and, remembering we have to keep neutral about this and this is really the preserve of politicians, for S4C, we've had historical fluctuations about a successful relationship with UK Government, I think that's fairly honest to say. At the moment, we have a certain amount of stability, which is very welcome.
If it were to be devolved to Wales, there are clear advantages, some that are probably less so than they were a couple of years ago. The good thing, I think, since I've been here—. We've had the Euryn Ogwen review two years ago now. One of the major milestones, which probably wasn't realised quite as much as other facets of that review, was that it encouraged and welcomed S4C's co-operation with the Welsh Government. Now, that, for me, was welcome. We've made quite a lot of activity and quite a few gains in partnering with both the Welsh Government and other bodies since then, particularly around education and learners, and I think that there may be considerable—. There may be advantages that may come further through devolution, but then you would have to balance them with the bits that we would need to sort out: the funding model—does Wales have a licence fee—the economies of scale, which probably don't effect us quite as much, but we would still need to work out how do we react to the change of environment.
I think the biggest concern might be to work out how—. Although we're a Welsh body, and our purpose, obviously, is the furtherance of the Welsh language, we do two functions, increasingly. One is to ensure that the Welsh language is alive and is part of the fabric of our local communities in Wales. But what we have seen over the past decades is increasing movements of Welsh speakers outside of Wales, and probably one of our biggest areas of growth—running at about 20 per cent a year at the moment—is providing Welsh-language tv to people living across the UK. Now, this is why I say our role is becoming twofold, in that, yes, we need to keep the language alive in our communities, make it a living thing that we can discuss every day, but we are bringing together the diaspora of Welsh speakers across the UK as well. And my only point—and, as I keep repeating, everything is possible—is the fact that you would need then to tie up how the two probably differing regulatory systems meshed together without creating unnecessary bureaucracy across borders, so to speak. So, there are all sorts of areas to S4C. Because we're quite a—. To see us as specifically a Welsh organisation—we are a Welsh organisation, but we do reach out to Welsh speakers wherever they may be, and I think the ability to be able to do that seamlessly will always be a positive.
And, of course, shared governance models are completely common in a decentralised system. Indeed, we have one presently, in effect, on broadcasting, otherwise you all wouldn't be here, I'd politely point out.
We don't have much time.
I was just going to mention that I do think the funding point—it's not a Welsh language point, it's a general point—is something—
It's material, I think.
It is material. I have seen plenty of documents from Cymdeithas yr Iaith. They point romantically at the Basque Country as an example of multi-channels in Basque on television and radio. The truth is that the funding from the licence fee coming to Wales for national services for Wales—not the Doctor Whos and the Casualties, just for national services in Wales—is significantly in excess of the funding that's going to Basque services, it's just that we choose to deliver it with a single channel rather than three channels, or with one radio station rather than four, and those are decisions we've made in Wales. But the funding is significantly in excess, and, for me, that's the elephant in the room in this whole conversation: in any question of devolution, do you end up with the web of funding and resources to continue to deliver at scale and at quality?
What I'd just add to that is that it is one thing to create the content, but then, as we heard in the earlier session, another important element is bringing an audience to that. Now, currently, ITV does both—it creates content for audiences in Wales and it brings a significant audience to that content. The most watched programme about the National Eisteddfod last year was on ITV. Now, part of the reason is that it was a brilliant programme, but another reason is because it sat in a schedule that is being watched and consumed in huge numbers by people in Wales.
Again, in terms of what it is that devolution is looking to fix, ITV does what ITV does: it makes it universally available to everybody in Wales; importantly, it is free to viewers—and I think that's really important in today's debate about television— and it does it at no direct cost to the taxpayer. I think whenever you're looking at new structures, which, by their very selves, carry inherent risk—creating something new in this environment is incredibly risky, as I think any previous experiment in this will demonstrate, and there's a real risk too that you increase the costs to Welsh taxpayers, and, indeed, Welsh viewers, in trying to achieve the aims you're trying to achieve.
Thanks. Just one final question: you've mentioned globalisation quite a bit, and Magnus even went as far as to say, well, Netflix has that global system of being able to downsize in terms of administration and such because of that global outreach. Am I reading into that that, if you go smaller, into the system that would be if you devolved broadcasting, that would then hinder that progress in terms of being able to compete with the big players, because, of course, they can be much more rationalised in how they do their work? At the moment, at a UK level—apart from S4C, I would imagine—they would have the back-up of a bigger system around them, by virtue of the current structures. Is that how I'm seeing what you're saying?
Absolutely. From my perspective, the synergies that Magnus mentioned in terms of—. Because ITV is a UK-wide broadcaster, it means that the value that does sit within the licence we can maximise onscreen for viewers in Wales. Otherwise, if we didn't have that sort of structure, (1) what channel does it sit on, in terms of just how you reach an audience for that, but then we would then have to spend some of that value in the licence on backroom things, such as human resources, transmission, payroll, et cetera, et cetera—technology. Technology is a big, big driver of the creativity of our industry as well. So, absolutely, that sort of scale on a UK level works to the advantage and the benefit, I would argue, of viewers in Wales.
The only thing I'd add to that is that, if you take the BBC, the BBC is used by about 0.5 billion people a week across its UK and global world services. So, as Magnus has described much more eloquently, we're in a global landscape, we're up against huge global competitors. There are inherent advantages to scale. It doesn't mean you can't do alternative models—it doesn't mean there aren't other, maybe, upsides of looking at different models, but all I would say to the committee is: don't underestimate how much scale is important at the moment, in terms of protecting and safeguarding UK public service broadcasting, because we're up against giants.
Wel, yn anffodus, dyna'r unig amser sydd gennym ni, felly efallai, eto, mi wnawn ni ysgrifennu atoch chi gyda mwy o gwestiynau yn hynny o beth. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am ddod atom heddiw. Os oes unrhyw beth ychwanegol dŷch chi eisiau ei rannu hefyd, yna plis gwnewch hynny. Byddwn ni'n rhoi hwn mewn i'r system Ofcom, fel dŷn ni wedi ei drafod, felly rŷm ni'n gobeithio cael mwy o bobl mewn i drafod y materion pwysig yma hefyd. Diolch yn fawr iawn.
Gwnawn ni gymryd seibiant o bum munud, bwyllgor. Diolch.
Unfortunately, that's all of the time we have available, so perhaps we may write to you with further questions. Thank you very much for joining us today. If there is anything that you want to share with us, then feel free to do so. We will be including this in the Ofcom inquiry, as we've already discussed, and, hopefully, we'll have further witnesses in to discuss these important issues, but thank you very much.
We'll take a five-minute break now. Thank you
Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 11:05 a 11:13.
The meeting adjourned between 11:05 and 11:13.
Iawn. Rydyn ni mewn sesiwn gyhoeddus nawr, a dŷn ni'n croesawu'r sesiwn nesaf: eitem 3, ymchwiliad i gerddoriaeth fyw yng Nghymru. Rydyn ni'n croesawu nifer o artistiaid i'r bwrdd yma heddiw: Rhydian Dafydd o Joy Formidable a hefyd Rhiannon Bryan o Joy Formidable. Mae pawb yn adnabod chi fel 'Ritzy', yn amlwg, ond mae 'Rhiannon' yn neis hefyd. Mae gennym ni Andrew Hunt, artist o'r band Buffalo Summer—croeso, Andrew, yma heddiw—a Rhys Carter sy'n dod o Valhalla. Rwy'n credu fy mod i wedi dweud hynna'n iawn—Valhalla Awaits. Hefyd, Samuel Kilby sydd o'r un band.
Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi oll am ddod i mewn fel rhan o'r broses yma. Rydw i wedi trio cymaint i gael bandiau i mewn. Dŷch chi ddim yn sylweddoli pa mor anodd y mae wedi bod i gael bandiau i mewn, felly dwi mor hapus eich bod chi wedi ymateb yn bositif a'ch bod chi yma o'r diwedd. Dŷn ni wedi cael lot o bobl sydd wedi bod yn rhoi gigs ymlaen, lot o promoters ac yn y blaen, ond mae'n bwysig ein bod ni'n clywed gan yr artistiaid yn y maes yma yn yr ymchwiliad ar gerddoriaeth fyw, so diolch yn fawr iawn i chi.
Byddwn ni'n gofyn cwestiynau gan Aelodau Cynulliad gwahanol, ac rŷn ni jest yn mynd i fynd yn syth i mewn i'r cwestiynau os ydy hynna'n iawn gyda chi: beth yw'ch barn chi ynglŷn â'r iechyd yn y sector ar hyn o bryd o ran cerddoriaeth fyw? Ydy e'n dda? Ydy e wedi gwaethygu? Ydy e'n well na mae fe erioed wedi bod? Beth yw'ch barn gyffredinol chi ynglŷn ag iechyd y sector?
Okay. We are now back in public session, and we move to our next item: inquiry into live music in Wales. We welcome a number of artists to the table today: Rhydian Dafydd from Joy Formidable and Rhiannon Bryan also from Joy Formidable. Everyone knows you as 'Ritzy', clearly, but 'Rhiannon' is very nice too. We also have Andrew Hunt, an artist from Buffalo Summer—welcome, Andrew. And Rhys Carter, who, I think, is an artist with Valhalla Awaits, and also Samuel Kilby, who's from the same band.
Thank you very much for coming in as part of this process. I have been so desperate to get bands in. You don't realise how difficult it's been, so I'm so pleased that you responded positively to our invitation and that you're finally here. We've had many people who have been promoters and gig organisers, but I think it's important that we also hear from the artists themselves in this area in our inquiry into live music, so thank you very much indeed.
We'll be asking questions from various Assembly Members, and we'll move immediately into questions, if that's okay with you: what's your view on the health of the sector in Wales at the moment in terms of live music? Is it healthy? Has it deteriorated? Is it better than it's ever been? What's your general view on the health of the sector at the moment?
Wel, dwi'n meddwl bod yna andros o lot o dalent yng Nghymru—does yna ddim shortage o gwbl o ran hynna. Ond y teimlad ydy bod venues ac, wrth gwrs, pubs a phob math o lefydd yn cau lawr, so efallai nad oes yna ddim cweit digon o lefydd i artistiaid chwarae.
I think there's a lot of talent in Wales—there's no shortage at all in terms of that. But the feeling is that venues and, of course, pubs and those sorts of places are closing down, and so perhaps there aren't enough places for artists to play.
Maybe the smaller venues. Is it okay if I go in between?
Yes, you can speak in any language.
I think what we're seeing is maybe those smaller—you know, where emerging artists would really kind of start getting their craft dialled in; those kinds of 100-to-200-capacity venues. I think they just struggle, you know? It's like, smaller venues, fewer people and less revenue. Kind of keeping them buoyant and being able to have money for sound systems and promotion and things like that. I think we're definitely seeing little bit of a surge in closures for some of those smaller music venues. Would you—?
I think we're battling a wider context as well, aren't we? I mean, I can't speak for everywhere, but I was talking to these guys who are from south Wales, and it seems like it's the same thing there as well, where it's a cultural thing as well in terms of young people going to shows. So, maybe there's something there that needs to be addressed. And, of course, with social media and the availability of a phone, or whatever. But it's so important, I think, to push those on, and unless you change people's perceptions, which I think is possible, unless you have a hub, and put importance on people coming together and socialising, then—. I think there's that aspect to it as well, is what I'm saying, you know?
There's no shortage of talent. In fact, if anything, I would say in the last few years, bands of all sorts of really eclectic, actually, more than anything—it's not even one genre—I would say that we really should be going to town. We're at a point where it's so exciting, musically. You know, it feels like there's a real kind of—I don't know. In moments of austerity comes, sometimes, the best art, so, you know, we should really be making a big, big—
So, you're saying it's more about the smaller venues that are not there as much; they're closing down or they're not able to sustain themselves.
Yes, and it is a tricky thing. It's definitely a very complicated thing. I think we need to look at models of other independent venues that are successful and take something from them: how do they do it really well? It's definitely not an easy thing to do.
Do any of you guys have a view? Andrew.
Yes, definitely. I think affordability is one thing for getting young people into venues. We were discussing ticket prices and things. When we generally put shows on in south Wales, if it's a three-band bill, for instance—you know, up-and-coming Welsh bands—we never charge more than £10, and quite often, we charge £5, and that's just to sort of cover the costs of the event. I don't think any of the bands, to be honest, are actually making any profit from these types of shows. What do you think, Rhys?
Yes. The only sort of income you see with original bands, in my opinion, is off their own backs with their own merchandise. You don't really get any sort of CD plays anymore down to streaming services, but we take that as a hit, because it's worldwide. But, yes, I think that's the only sort of income a band can get, really, if they do it themselves; they fund someone to create the T-shirts for them and the designs, and then they sell them on the night to create a profit for themselves, but that's probably about it, really.
And in terms of going back to the venues, do you think there's enough of a distribution of different sized venues? I know that there's going to be potentially another one in Cardiff—a big, big venue—but when you're looking at the pyramid, do you think there are enough in Wales for bands to be able to progress through the system, or is it that they have to go out and do some of the big, big gigs?
Speaking for north Wales, I don't feel like there's enough, no. Growing up in Mold, yes, it was difficult and you did feel like you had to go outside, which is a shame. The closest for us, I suppose, was Wrexham, and that was Central Station, which has closed down. And you know, you have Tŷ Pawb now; there are efforts being made, but I definitely feel like there should be more around about where we're from—around the Mold area. You've got Bangor, and Caernarfon, which does have its scene, but I think some more investment in that part of north Wales would definitely be welcome.
And you guys?
There are definitely more venues, I think, as you say, in south Wales. Obviously, with the M4 corridor, it makes it a bit easier for bands as well. I'm from Neath; there's only actually one live music venue left in Neath, which is the Duke of Wellington, which is just a pub and it's free entry. And some nights, that can still be empty and putting bands on. You've got about three in Swansea. The boys are from up Rhymney and Tredegar way. You've got the Ebbw Vale Institute—
And The New Crown as well, which is just a pub.
Yes, that seems to be doing okay.
Yes. The owner, George, he started with very minimal stuff there, and he's done everything right and now he's drawing in people like—who's he had? The Calling are there now. He's just had Kevin in—I say 'Kevin'; he was Kevin in American Pie. [Laughter.] He's in a covers band and he travelled all the way over and he played at the Crown. So, George has—I don't want to say 'washed-up celebrities' or anything like that, that's probably the wrong term, but—
They're not up-and-coming people, they're people who have possibly already—
Who've had hits and stuff like that in the past, and who are known to the public eye. And he's doing really well, George—I take my hat off to him.
Heritage acts. David just said 'heritage acts'—that's lovely. [Laughter.] Sorry, Rhys. I interrupted you.
Yes, like we were talking about, the venues around south Wales, within the Valleys themselves, there aren't many that can draw a crowd. But I was talking to these guys—I think there's a love missing for the venues, and you get a lot of owners who don't know the industry, or they don't know the trade. So it would be good for them to study it a bit more to help bands as well.
Yes, if there was something for promoters, maybe, and venues, because the only real market, if you're a musician, I think, in south Wales at the moment, at the grassroots level—. There are plenty of venues to play if you're a cover band or a tribute band, but if you're trying to promote Welsh bands from within, I think it would be useful, as you say, if there was a hub or something, you know, maybe a resource for people to pool all the information together and sort of help each other.
Because I'm also sure that these landlords or promoters, if they put on a show, they want to make a profit, they want to earn their money, so, you know, it does work hand in hand, if they—. Because, we've done some shows where—. Like this venue now, the Ebbw Vale Institute in Ebbw Vale, it's a really good venue and if you could sell it out, you'd have a wicked night, but it's down to the promotion. We've recently played a gig there; there was no promotion, nothing from the venue and nothing from the promoter, it was just us off our own backs. The promoter can't expect to turn around to us and say then, 'It's not a very good turnout tonight', and it's like, 'Well, you are the promoter, so—.'
I know we're going to be short on time and I don't want to dominate, because obviously I'm really interested in this area, but in terms of—I didn't want to leave this question out because we've had it quite a few times: how can you mesh the Welsh language scene with non-Welsh language bands? And I know you guys obviously do songs in Welsh as well, but I think what's been talked about are a lot of silos—you know, people going to Welsh language gigs and then not going to other gigs. How do you think we can combat that? And then the second question is: how diverse do you think the music scene is in Wales?
Well, funnily enough I was just saying about this when we were in the waiting room. I think that it's become the norm now to just have one headlining band and three support bands underneath, but I do think you need to take note from venues in London, because they do club nights where they have almost like a variety night. So, they don't just have the bands, they have other acts from other sorts of genres—it could be dance, anything, you know? The terminology I'd use for it is that it's like having a steak without any seasoning. So, it's just about adding a bit of seasoning to the night, really, and adding a bit of variety for everyone, you know? I think that's what missing to keep it exciting for everyone, because now, it's become the norm, 'I'm just going to watch a band tonight'.
And they're all generally the same genre, are they?
Well, in south Wales—I don't know about you guys—but there's a massive metal music scene. I don't know what it's like with you guys up in the north.
Yes, there's a certain amount.
But that's the face of it all. Underneath that, you have a lot of other genres, but they just don't seem to be coming through the works. It always seems to be metal nights, metal nights and metal nights.
I think blending that—like you say, putting on Welsh language and bands that are English, and mixing the genres—would really be a positive thing. Because there are a lot of young bands coming through, like a lot of indie bands for instance in Swansea, which I haven't seen for the best part of 15 years. There are a couple of bands actually singing in Welsh as well—a band called Bandicoot from Swansea—and I think if you started getting all these bands mixing together and working together towards something—.
I've recently created an online page called Cymru Underground, I've only created it in the last couple of months, and it's purely just to promote Welsh music right across the board. It doesn't matter what genre you are, just send it in and we'll just push it out there. And then using that as a hub for bands to talk to one another as well to say, 'We're all from Wales, it doesn't matter if you're from the north or the south, let's put gigs on in Wales.' Almost like—the idea I had behind it was trying to create something like Cool Cymru in the 1990s, where you're creating an identity of Welsh music. It doesn't matter about the genre, it's all about promoting the talent that we've got in Wales, because I think there's so much talent in all the genres across the board, and it's just not getting out there.
And you're trying to create gigs from that then?
Yes, literally just trying to create gigs where, coming back to that thing, you're mixing the genres. And not only that, creating a dialogue between bands, even saying, 'Well, we get our T-shirts made here; do this.' So, it's making it cost effective for bands. Because the way you've got to look at music, the actual product, is it's free now. The way the industry's become, when you make a CD, you spend x amount of money in the studio, but once the music is out there, selling the music that way is not the way to make money for the bands. So, the best way really is touring and merchandise. And if bands can work with one another and be independent in Wales, then I think it's a positive thing.
Yes, I think getting a network is important.
Network is the word, yes.
Where we grew up, it was quite difficult to get this feeling of unification. You know, I always joke with people that I got told, 'Stop speaking Welsh', but I also got told, 'Stop speaking English.' It was quite divided where we are, I suppose, being a border town. But I do think that if you just—. Music can only do so much, it needs to be looked at throughout society in a wider context. But if you just normalise it and put great artists on, whether they speak Welsh or English, they're just expressing, then that can only be one positive aspect of that.
And also the promotion of something like that, instead of it being fractured. So, you've got maybe your Welsh media and your English media in Wales—that really coming together. I think that's maybe the thing that bugs me sometimes in terms of the promotion. A lot of the gigs in Wales, they're like the best-kept secret. There's some amazing stuff going on. I almost feel like we should be able to put the 6 o'clock news on, and there can be a big segment on sport, but there should also be a calendar of what is coming up; really go to town with being excited about what's coming up. Sometimes, you can see things in some of the Welsh press that are advertising Welsh language shows, and I don't even know, does the Chronicle even—? It just feels fractured. Not all the media is coming together to really present what's going on in these communities in Wales and really getting behind the venues and lifting this. There's a little bit of apathy; lifting that sense of apathy.
And it's part of the values system, isn't it? Typically, the arts is the first thing that gets cut. I think it's short-term thinking, it's not long term. Because you need that expression, a hub, somewhere for young people to express, especially when times are difficult. So, it's way too easy to think that it's not important, that it doesn't put jobs on the table or whatever. It's almost like the key to a dysfunctional society if you don't address those things, because people feel like they're just numbers then. You have to have a chance for people to voice. It actually is the human element. I feel it's so part of where we're getting to now, just in general, with mental health and so forth. There are not enough hubs of people actually socialising. Music is a massive part of that.
That's a really strong point. I'll move on. Mick Antoniw.
One very short question to Rhiannon, right at the beginning you talked about the massive growth of talent et cetera, is there any explanation as to what is behind the massive growth of talent or is it inexplicable?
I think Wales has always had a lot of talent. I think it happens sometimes—. In terms of original talent as well, because you've got all these places that are isolated, and people are making music that's really original. I think that's what's exciting about Wales, even more so than some bigger cities. There's a real sense of being able to find a musical voice that's original, that stands out, that feels like it moves music forward. It's not just a regurgitation of something that's been going on in the city over and over again, you know? So, I think that we have people generally who are quite creative, quite gritty. The nature's beautiful. There's so much to be inspired by, and I think there's enough push for people to create art that's really meaningful. Adam Walton's show is a fantastic show of new talent every single week. I think you can definitely feel it. We travel a lot with the band and we spend a lot of time in the States. We always come back to Wales and say, 'Wow, it just feels that we have a lot more going on sometimes.'
Okay. One of the areas we're interested in looking at is the support for live music, the support for venues and so on. Just as a starting point: have any of you received any specific forms of support in development of your talent and what you do?
In terms of financial?
What, such as arts council funding?
In terms of funding, in terms of support at venues, in terms of promotion, in terms of marketing—anything. We are talking about the music business and so on. Is there anything that you would say: this support has helped to develop what we do, or for us to have access, or to be able to get to venues, or get equipment, or anything like that?
I've applied for quite a few things over the years but never had any luck. I applied for a scheme called Horizons three times. One of the things that would've been quite pivotal for the band I was in—. We spent five years touring around Europe and we played a lot of the major UK festivals. We played Donington, we played Hyde Park with Black Sabbath, for instance, and we played at some of the big festivals as well in Europe. Then, we got a chance to go on tour in America with an established band, and it was a sold-out tour. We would've been playing to 5,000 people a night, guaranteed. We just couldn't afford to do it.
So, I applied to the Arts Council of Wales, but they explained to me that they only will give funding if it's what's called a showcase event. So, the example they gave was an event in Texas called South by Southwest. There, you'd be playing a one-off show. All right, you're playing to industry people. But I tried to give the argument that I'd be playing to 5,000 people a night over a two-and-a-half to three-week period, so I'd be playing to a lot more people. So, that might be something that in the future maybe they'd want to consider.
Yes, that's a shame, because that genuinely could be a career changer, couldn't it? Because you're playing multiple cities, more so than maybe doing the one show.
Yes, rather than looking at it as a showcase, one event, maybe think about the bigger picture. Because one show is not going to break a band. It's not going to make you. It's just a continuous—
You didn't go, then?
We didn't go. By the time we worked it out, with the visas and everything, and even just getting there, it was $10,000 before we'd even left the first city where we would've flown to. But that's just—
Sorry to interrupt you, can I ask a supplementary? That Horizons funding—I know that they were saying it was only for a showcase event, but had they given you the money for the showcase event, was the amount of funding that was available—? Would it have—?
That was with the Arts Council of Wales. The Horizons thing I applied for separately on a few occasions; that was more of a bursary.
Sorry, forgive me, with the arts council funding, would that have actually been enough money to help with the—?
I didn't even specify the total amount. I was just looking for any sort of help just to try and get us there. Anything would have been a help towards it. Because we even thought about taking out bank loans, and then we thought we'd end up in a black hole. So, overall, we had to weigh it up, and it wasn't worth doing. But that's just an example to give you, of maybe something to consider in the future for other bands.
Is that a common experience for you? Has anyone got any particular examples?
We've applied to the Welsh arts council, I think maybe once or twice, with no luck. It seems, to be absolutely frank, that occasionally there's a little bit of nepotism going on, but that's an impression. I'm not going to say—. We have had a bit of an odd trajectory as well, because I think a lot of people perceive us as having had a career in America, 'Oh, they're fine, they don't need money', possibly, which is not the case. We put on our own festival in Cardiff last year, and all these things require a little bit of help, especially a festival; to get it off the ground is quite difficult.
Is it fair to say that what you're really saying is you don't think that help was available?
It's down to a few things. It is there, but it seemed like it was maybe a bit harder than it should've been.
Is it fair to say that perhaps whatever support there is is not clear enough, perhaps not flexible enough?
In that instance, I would say that that's a very good example. Coming into this, one of the points that we were thinking about—. We were at South by Southwest last year in a showcase scenario— without the behind the scenes; without the support; without the network; without having a release in the States that maybe goes at the same time; without having maybe a record label that's co-joined with a Welsh record label and you've got both sides of the pond working together—those showcases are normally going to have a fairly droplet effect and then disappear. Because they just don't work. It's all a con, anyway. Most bands who go to South by Southwest have already got a label and a trajectory for their career in place. It's just a nice little place to literally showcase them. It's not going to get them a deal or actually advance their careers.
Unless you have something else going on, like proper support, say, like a press campaign and a release to go with it.
There used to be some funding for the Welsh Music Foundation. That came to an end. In terms of venues and so on, there's a little bit of money that's been made available by the arts council in England. Do you ever do any comparison of yourselves with how similar bands in England are? I hate drawing these comparisons, but in terms of are there things available elsewhere that you think would have been really good if we had them within Wales, is there anything like that?
Yes, I think there's some improvement. It seems like now there are, as I was saying before, these arts centres that do a bit of everything: theatre, music, whatever. We were discussing before, maybe if there was—. It seems like there are many venues we've been to that are partly coffee shops, partly breweries. Like you were saying about the 'steak without any seasoning', it's thinking how we have to diversity to keep this thing going. I think maybe we could look into it more like that. I do think the time of just your metal club, just your rock club, just your indie club is becoming maybe quite tough.
What about specifically, though, on the organisational side—that is: equipment, the organisation of venues, the organisation of tours, the advice, the marketing, assistance with perhaps getting production going, producing a DVD—is there any support available like that? Is that something that you think should be there? What do you think would be of benefit to live music and to bands such as yourselves to make a difference?
So, not just within a venue?