Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have united in a pledge to ensure the interests of all three devolved administrations are central to the UK Government’s work to determine the future of the BBC.
At a meeting held today in Glasgow on public service broadcasting and the future of the BBC, culture ministers from the three devolved administrations vowed to work together to ensure the process of BBC Charter renewal reflects and prioritises their shared interests.
In a joint statement agreed at the meeting, Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, Northern Ireland Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, and Welsh Deputy Minister for Culture Ken Skates set out how their governments will work in partnership to:
hold the UK Government and the BBC to account for the continued delivery of the public service broadcasting principles on which the BBC was founded.
ensure each devolved administration is guaranteed a formal, consultative role in developing reviewing and agreeing the new BBC Charter.
ensure the UK Government and BBC provide for a truly representative service to all the communities, regions and nations of the UK.
ensure the BBC’s clear obligation to provide services for all of its communities, is fully met in relation to both English and indigenous language broadcasting.
push the BBC to take a more representative approach to commissioning, talent development and production from and for all the nations and regions.
Hosting today’s meeting, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said:
“The BBC’s recent Annual Report showed the corporation is currently failing to meet the expectations of the people of Scotland. More than half of our population don’t believe the BBC properly reflects their lives, and we’ve seen a decline in production spend here. But these BBC failures must fuel positive reform, not furnish excuses for cuts.
“BBC Charter renewal must be used as an opportunity to improve the corporation’s services so that it better delivers for Scotland and our people. We’ve made clear the Scottish Government intends to play an active role in the charter renewal process and today’s meeting formed part of our firm commitment to ensuring Scotland’s voice is heard.
“What is clear from today’s meeting is that the devolved administrations have many shared interests and ambitions when it comes to charter renewal – particularly around ensuring we are properly considered and consulted, and that our communities are better represented.”
Wales’ Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates said:
“Wales and the other devolved nations must and will have an equal voice in deliberations on the new BBC Royal Charter. It is vital the new agreement ensures there is sufficient funding for news and non-news programming in Welsh and English and for S4C. It must also fully reflect the interests of the people of Wales and the current and changing devolved settlement.
“People in Wales rely on the BBC for news coverage of public life, but beyond this both Welsh and English language programming in Wales have suffered significant budget cuts in recent years. Any additional funding cuts would further limit BBC Wales and S4C’s ability to meet the needs of its viewers and listeners. The future of broadcasting in Wales is now in serious jeopardy, and poses serious risks to both the Welsh language and our economy.
“It has been clear to me for some time that we in Wales share many of the same concerns as our neighbours in Scotland and Northern Ireland in relation to the review of the BBC’s Royal Charter. It is vital that we are properly consulted and I am very pleased that as governments we are working together to ensure our interests are protected and promoted in the BBC’s next Charter.”
DCAL Culture Minister Carál Nί Chuilίn said;
“The BBC must continue to embrace and further develop its commitment to its public obligations and the occasion of the charter renewal must be seen as an opportunity to deliver better for the North of Ireland.
“In moving forward there needs to be greater emphasis placed on home grown productions and the harnessing of local talent. The opportunities for local companies and individuals must be maximised and there must be increased commissioning of original programming showcasing our local communities and what they have to offer.
“I welcomed the opportunity today to meet with my Scottish and Welsh counterparts. There is a clear belief that the shared interests of the devolved administrations must be championed vigorously during the ongoing discussions surrounding the future shape and output of the BBC.”