BBC Asserts That Coverage Of Celtic Countries Has ‘Improved’

The BBC has said that its coverage of devolved issues affecting the north of
Ireland, Scotland and Wales has now improved on its media network, following a damning report produced in 2008.

The King Report criticised the BBC in 2008 for failing to adequately cover
matters that did not specifically affect England, but had significance in the
other Celtic countries. At the time, the Heritage Minister for Wales, Rhodri
Glyn Thomas, said that the BBC was “basically lazy”. However, last week (29th July 2010) the BBC Trust published its own report based on independent research into the BBC’s TV, radio and online coverage, saying that real progress had been made in covering `devolved’ issues. The report was based on research undertaken by Cardiff University and involved detailed analysis across the BBC.

The BBC Trust report said that since 2008, the proportion of news items
referring to the devolved nations has almost doubled, the number of references made to the devolved nations has increased dramatically and there has been an increase in television reporting from the north of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The report also said that the BBC compares favourably with other broadcasters.

The BBC Trust Editorial Standards Committee chairman, Richard Tait, said
following the publication of last week’s report that:

“The Trust is clear that the BBC should serve all audiences, and licence fee
payers themselves tell us they want to know more about what’s going on in the nations and regions of the UK.

“As a result of the recommendations we made in 2008, the Trust is pleased that audiences are now seeing more stories about the devolved nations on the BBC.

“We will now look to the Director General and his team to build on the progress that has been made, and continue to improve in the areas where news is still falling short.”

However, Hywel Williams, Plaid Cymru MP, said that despite the findings, “Wales is still very much taken for granted when it comes to news and UK wide network television.” Mr Williams added:

“This latest report shows that more than 90%of health and education stories
reported on the BBC network are England only. These are devolved issues, they do not affect viewers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – but rarely is this fact stated.”

The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) is pushing for a Scottish controlled
broadcasting company and if the SNP have the opportunity to form a government again next May, it looks likely that they will push ahead with this goal. The SNP were also annoyed this year by the BBC decision to deliberately exclude the SNP from the first televised political leader’s debate in the run up to the general elections (UK).

In turn, Cornish nationalists have complained for many years about poor coverage of Cornish news and an overall Anglo-centric approach by the BBC. This month, Kernow Branch Secretary Mike Chappell will stage a one man protest outside of the BBC studios in Truro, Cornwall calling on the BBC to better represent Cornwall’s distinctive Celtic nature in its broadcasts and delete from those broadcasts the descriptive term ‘county’. Mr Chappell’s stance was supported at the Celtic League’s AGM this year in the Isle of Man.

Meanwhile on the Isle of Man the BBC is also `on the back-foot’ with a select
committee of Tynwald investigating whether the BBC licence fee represents value for money for residents of the Isle of Man.

This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary
Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:

Tel: 0044 (0)1209319912
M: 0044(0)7787318666

gensec@celticleague.net

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League

09/08/10

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