Viewers 'unhappy' over regional Welsh TV coverage

Many people in Wales do not think regional television covers their area well, according to the media regulator Ofcom.

A lack of investment meant there are now fewer Welsh-made programmes on the BBC and ITV, Ofcom's director in Wales Rhodri Williams said.

The amount of public service broadcasting in Wales has fallen over the last five years, the watchdog said.

The BBC said it is investing in its programmes.

In a report Ofcom said regional output on BBC Wales fell from 824 to 696 hours between 2005 and 2009, while ITV Wales' hours fell 32% over the same period.

The total hours of Welsh language programmes on S4C increased by 27% to 5,696 hours in 2009, although this was made up of 62% of repeats.

Ofcom's director in Wales Rhodri Williams said: "What the report shows is the decline in investment in programming on the public service broadcasting channels.

"That decline has not simply come about as a result of economic circumstances but is a trend that's been there since 2005.

"On the whole audiences still value what is being produced by those services."

He said there was likely to be more of a strain on resources in the future.

"Going forward, I think we are going to see a squeeze," he said.

"There has already been a cut back in S4C's funding. It's not unique to S4C; there is a decline in original spend programmes across all the channels.

"Going forward we can only expect those kinds of pressures to increase."

Meanwhile, Ofcom found the proportion of people in Wales who believe their local and regional television reports well on events and news in their area is among the lowest in the UK, ranking below Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, said the report acknowledged that high levels of quality from the broadcaster have been maintained.

"Despite an ongoing efficiency programme, the BBC continues to be the cornerstone of the production industry, ploughing savings back in to high quality programming," she said.

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