Wales politics

Expert panel 'should advise Welsh government media policy'

Camera on College Green, Westminster
Image caption The amount of political output on BBC Wales should be kept under review, AMs say

A panel of experts should be set up to advise ministers on Wales' media industry, assembly members have said.

A cross-party report says the Welsh government should take advice about the industry from an independent forum.

The inquiry was set against a background of cutbacks at newspapers and broadcasters across the UK.

Welsh government policy needs an "overarching strategic direction" because of the number of challenges facing the media, it says.

A sub-group of the assembly's communities committee acknowledges that setting up a new body will be difficult at a time of public spending cuts, but says it would bring "significant benefits over time".

'Democratic deficit'

The report also voices concerns about cuts at the BBC, saying they might impact on political coverage and contribute to a "so-called democratic deficit".

BBC Wales is shedding about 100 of its 1,200 staff over five years as part savings being sought to meet a freeze in the licence fee.

The media task and finish group recommends an assembly committee monitors the amount of coverage politics receives on BBC Wales.

It also says devolution of broadcasting policy to Wales should be kept under review by the new panel.

Labour AM Ken Skates, who chaired the inquiry, said: "What has become clear during the course of our inquiry is that there is still a healthy appetite for Welsh-focused media and information in Wales.

"However, the way that people are consuming that information is evolving rapidly.

"Therefore we believe that an independent body, consisting of experts with experience across the sector, should be charged with monitoring the Welsh media landscape and provide advice and guidance on how to sustain it."

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