Above: Rhodri Talfan Davies, Phil Henfrey, and Ian Jones, with our own RTS CEO, Theresa Wise
In 'Meet the CEOs', Wales Centre Chair, Tim Hartley, interviewed Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director, BBC Cymru Wales, Ian Jones, Chief Executive, S4C and Phil Henfrey, Head of News and Programmes, ITV Cymru Wales, about the state of the industry in Wales and their future plans.
Tim remarked that the session should have been called Location, Location, Location, as all three Welsh broadcasters have announced plans to move their HQs. S4C is moving to Carmarthen, ITV to Cardiff Bay, with BBC Cymru Wales announcing soon which of three sites it will select in Cardiff city centre or the Bay.
Viewers in Wales watch more TV than any of the other home nations, and public service broadcasting still plays a big part in Welsh public life. Henfrey recognised ITV's role, and said that alongside the BBC it "provides genuine plurality in a Welsh context". He added that without viewers, plurality is meaningless, and that 'delivering eye-balls' such as the 200,000 viewers to Wales This Week, a current affairs series broadcast in peak time, is one of ITV's great strengths.
Rhodri Talfan Davies responded to Tim's point that, according to Ofcom, spend on English language programmes for Wales has significantly declined over recent years. Referring to Tony Hall's plea on a recent visit to Wales for the BBC to offer a medium for 'national self-expression', and the cuts to BBC Wales, Talfan Davies said that the Director General had, "recognised that the UK is changing, and this is something the BBC will have to think very hard about in the run-up to Charter renewal".
S4C has faced budget cuts of 36% and is now mainly funded through the licence fee. Following concerns expressed by Talfan Davies about a 17% fall in S4C's ratings, Ian Jones defended the Welsh channel’s record. "We've had to cut our spend on the size of the BARB panel we use, which led to a drop in our ratings", he said. Jones added that, "ratings for all the broadcasters have fallen since January, and there has been a marked increase in on-line viewing". Looking to the future, Jones said that S4C is due to launch a discussion paper on what constitutes 'sufficient funding' for the service, reflecting the DCMS Secretary of State’s duty to provide such a level of funding under the Public Bodies Act.
An article on the future of Welsh TV (Word doc), written by Tim Hartley, was published in the Western Mail the same day as this event.
Angela Graham wrote an article in response to Tim's, and also to BBC DG Tony Hall's Cardiff speech, on the Institute of Welsh Affairs site.
'Meet the CEOs'
Park Plaza Hotel, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff
15th May, 7.30pm (following our AGM)