MEMBERS of a new expert panel to pave the way for the devolution of communications and broadcasting powers to Wales has today been announced by the Welsh Government.

The expert panel, which is being established as part of the co-operation agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, will provide recommendations and options to help strengthen Wales’ media, and support the development of plans for an effective and fit for purpose regulatory framework for Wales.

The panel will advise and provide recommendations and options to support the work of delivering on the commitment to create a shadow broadcasting and communications authority for Wales.

The authority’s remit would include aiming to strengthen Welsh democracy and close the information deficit, bring together and coordinate in a structured way the Welsh Government’s existing efforts to strengthen the media in Wales and innovations to support the Welsh language in the digital sphere such as amam.cymru, enhance media pluralism and the use of the Welsh language on all media platforms. It would also be tasked with developing a strong evidence base to support the case for the devolution of powers to Wales.

The expert panel will be co-chaired by experienced Welsh broadcaster Mel Doel and Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones.

Members of the panel include:

Nia Ceidiog; Dr Llion Iwan; Arwel Ellis Owen; Ceri Jackson; Clare Hudson; Dr Ed Gareth Poole; Richard Martin; Geoff Williams; Shirish Kulkarni and Carwyn Donovan.

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, said:

“I am very pleased we can today announce the members of the expert panel which with their wealth of experience and knowledge can help us to explore the establishment of a shadow broadcasting and communications authority for Wales.

There is a consensus that the current broadcasting and communications framework does not meet Wales’ needs and that action is needed to develop a more fit for purpose framework.

Ongoing threats to, and attacks on, public service broadcasting from the UK Government, and recent announcements by UK Ministers about the future of the BBC licence fee and Channel 4 privatisation, strengthen the case that the current system is flawed.

I look forward to receiving the expert panel’s recommendations so that we can create a communications and broadcasting framework that works for Wales.”

In the co-operation agreement, the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru agree that broadcasting and communications powers should be devolved to the Senedd.

Plaid Cymru’s Designated Member Cefin Campbell said:

“This has the potential to be an historic development for Wales, to turbo-charge our democracy. We believe that decisions about communications and broadcasting matters should be made in Wales, to make a real difference to our young national democracy, our language as well as local community life in all its variety.

Establishing a broadcasting and communications authority in our country that can protect, diversify, and enhance our local and national public service platforms will be a crucial step forward. A vibrant local and national media is crucial for reflect the tapestry of life right across the nation – debating, informing, and celebrating all our cultures and communities.

Our public interest approach in Wales stands in stark contrast to the London-centric, profit-at-all-costs approach of the UK Government. We believe in a future where there is a democratic, locally-embedded media pluralism that enhances Wales’ national life.”

By Gwynoro Jones

Former MP for Carmarthenshire, Gwynoro Jones joined the team covering politics in Wales. He has a wealth of experience in politics and has been a regular commentator on radio, TV and in newspapers in Wales. Email: gwynorojones@walesnewsonline.com

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