Deputy Minister refuses to budge on the devolution of broadcasting

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Shouting up for Wales

Shadow International Relations & Brexit Minister, Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West), asked about post-Brexit trade deals and what the Welsh Government were doing to make the most of the opportunities.

“Now, my party….has put forward a suggestion that there ought to be trade envoys in many different parts of the world, shouting up for Wales….working very closely with British embassies in those nations of the world where trade opportunities are there for Welsh businesses. What consideration have you given as a Welsh Government, not just to supporting the infrastructure that you have already in the Welsh Government offices in different nations, but supporting the infrastructure within British embassies too, to make sure that the Welsh voice….is heard?”
– Shadow International Relations & Brexit Minister, Darren Millar AM


Echoing comments made at the External Affairs Committee earlier in the week (above), the Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales), said discussions have been held with the UK’s Department for International Trade with a view to setting up a more formal structure for Welsh involvement.

“In terms of trade envoys, I think you’re absolutely right – there’s a real opportunity. One of the things that I’m clear about is that, actually, we have Welsh people all over the world who have great expertise in a lot of areas, and we need to be using that expertise in a way that some of our generalist officials can’t get us into the kind of top-level companies.”
– Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan

AMs “not making enough of current broadcasting accountability structures”

Delyth Jewell AM (Plaid, South Wales East) asked her first question on rugby’s “Project Reset” – but there’s a topical question which I’ll return to immediately after this.

Her second question was on the state of broadcasting. Heart and Capital radio recently scrapped regional broadcasts and have centralised them in London due to Ofcom relaxing the rules, while Pitching In recently portrayed a view of Anglesey which was “foreign to local residents”.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Media & Sport, Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Ind, Dwyfor Meirionnydd) didn’t believe the current regulatory regime was particularly supportive of Welsh broadcasting and further discussions with Ofcom were needed. Delyth offered a solution:

“Devolution of broadcasting would enable us as a nation to tell our own stories from our own point of view, giving a better understanding to our citizens of our cultural wealth and the reality of life in modern Wales. This would be the most effective way of getting to grips with the democratic deficit because recent evidence shows that around half of the people of Wales still believe that in Westminster, decisions about health services are controlled, even though the powers have been devolved for 20 years.”
– Delyth Jewell AM

The Deputy Minister flatly rejected devolution of broadcasting – and not for the first time – believing not enough was being made of existing accountability structures. He also thought there needed to be a broader regulatory perspective than just broadcasting, it has to include Welsh and English digital media as broadcasting couldn’t be treated in isolation.

Austerity needs to end before another Commonwealth Games bid

Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central) asked for a statement of bids for major sporting events. Wales has had a number of successes in recent years, though one of the “blips” was a withdrawal of a Commonwealth Games bid. Would this be re-considered in the future?

The International Relations Minister had discussed the matter with her officials this week. The problem with the Commonwealth Games bid was the costs involved and, realistically, only Cardiff has the infrastructure to host it. “Maybe when austerity ends, it’s something we could consider”.

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