Welsh democracy hurt by English focus - Rosemary Butler

Rosemary Butler Rosemary Butler says she fears too many people are getting their news from outside Wales

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Democracy in Wales is being damaged by a lack of coverage of Welsh affairs in the London-based media, the assembly's presiding officer fears.

Rosemary Butler says she is worried that too many people are getting their news from organisations outside Wales.

This leads to the content being "English-centric," she said.

A conference will be held on Thursday where broadcasters, journalists and academics will discuss how Welsh news and politics are covered.

Speaking to the Sunday Politics Wales, Rosemary Butler said she was worried that people in Wales were not hearing or reading enough about matters in their own country.

Start Quote

We are sleepwalking into this area in 10 years' time where people are not going to be able to access news about what's happening in Wales”

End Quote Rosemary Butler Presiding Officer

"My concern is that the majority of people in Wales don't get their news from Wales, they get their news from across the English border and therefore it tends to be English-centric," she said.

Ms Butler said she believed that this was damaging for democracy.

"Very few people relatively watch BBC Wales or ITV Wales compared with UK news and Sky television. Therefore they are not getting a full flavour of what's happening here in the National Assembly.

"It's the same with newspapers here in Wales, we don't have a major national newspaper and the number of people reading Welsh newspapers is actually reducing.

"It's very important that the people of Wales have plurality of where they can get information about what's happening at the assembly.

"My concern is that we are sleepwalking into this area in 10 years' time where people are not going to be able to access news about what's happening in Wales."

'Differences not reflected'

She said there were huge differences in public policy between Wales and England and these were not being reflected by the big UK media organisations.

Ms Butler will host a conference on Thursday about media engagement - Addressing the Welsh Democratic Deficit - when broadcasters, journalists and academics will discuss how Welsh news and politics are covered.

The Welsh government, via the Welsh Books Council, currently provides funding for the Welsh-language news website Golwg 360.

The presiding officer said she would not dismiss such a move for an English-language newspaper or online service.

"It would be a new way forward if the Welsh government were to put money into an English language newspaper," she said.

"But is that the best way forward? I don't know - that's why I think this seminar will be interesting to discuss these issues."

The Sunday Politics Wales is on BBC One Wales at 11:00 BST on Sunday.

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