Wales

BBC Wales cuts are outlined to staff after review

BBC Wales broadcasting house
Image caption Plaid Cymru called for a commitment to 'full news coverage in Wales in both languages'

Staff at BBC Wales will later be told the results of a cost-cutting exercise across the corporation aimed at finding savings of 20%.

The review was set up earlier this year following the decision by the UK government to freeze the BBC licence fee for six years.

That decision meant the BBC had to find significant savings in its budget.

Politicians have warned that cuts and job losses would have a drastic impact on Wales' broadcasting industry.

BBC director general Mark Thompson has said the aim of the review, named Delivering Quality First, is to keep the BBC "strong and relevant" but job losses have not been ruled out.

Staff, including 1,200 employed by BBC Wales, will be told the outcome of the review on Thursday.

'Role is so central'

Independent media consultant Hywel William, the former head of broadcasting for Ofcom in Wales, said he was concerned cuts should not have a disproportionate effect on Wales.

"The BBC's role is so central in sustaining an informed democracy in a devolved Wales, particularly now with the new powers for the assembly," he said.

"Also, we need to think about the impact across the range of services it provides on TV radio and online as well as the supply of programmes for S4C."

First Minister Carwyn Jones has previously raised concerns about cuts to BBC Wales with BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten.

Plaid Cymru broadcasting spokesperson Bethan Jenkins AM called on the BBC to keep a clear commitment to "full news coverage in Wales in both languages".

'Transparent debate'

"The BBC's news coverage in Wales has particular importance due to the shortage of media sources here," she said.

"Any major cuts in BBC Wales' provision will be a severe blow to attempts to increase public awareness of our national structures and democratic institutions."

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the TV licence settlement had not taken into account what the audience wanted for its money.

"We strongly believe that the issue must be reconsidered and that we should have an open and transparent debate about the future funding of the BBC," said a NUJ spokesperson.

"This is particularly true given that the BBC is impartial and a reliable source of news."

Former ITN editor-in-chief Richard Tait, who is a former member of the BBC Trust, said he expected "cuts in services and programmes disappearing".

"I think the BBC will try to preserve some of its priority areas and the good news for Wales is that drama and news are two of their biggest priorities," he said.

"The drama village, taking shape in Cardiff, will remain as a key part of the BBC long-term strategy."

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