Lagging behind: How will developing a Welsh media affect the future of the country?
WALES has always been following in Scotland’s footsteps.
Before the 1997 devolution referendum, which brought an Assembly to Cardiff and a Parliament to Edinburgh, Scotland already had its own legal system which they had kept after the acts of Union in 1707, they had a long established Secretary of State from 1885, compared with Wales which had it’s Secretary of State post created in 1964, and numerous other well established institutions.
One of the main developments, and the most important that Scotland had before Wales was an English language media through a Scottish perspective. Wales was fortunate enough to have Welsh language media through a Welsh perspective, but lacked English language media through a Welsh perspective.
Wales has had papers and media representing regions and areas of the country, such as the Daily Post, covering the north of Wales and the Liverpool area, The County Times, covering Powys and Mid Wales, and many other regional and local papers covering the south and west of the country.
Scotland has had numerous papers of its own, and even National papers with Scottish editions, such as the Scottish Sun, The Scottish Daily Mail and the Scottish Express, to name a few. Wales has, up until quite recently, had only two National newspapers / magazines, which are through the medium of Welsh only, Y Cymro, which is a monthly newspaper (a few years ago it used to be printed weekly), and Golwg, which is a monthly magazine discussing topical Welsh issues.
Wales has been very successful over the years with the printing of “Papurau Bro” or Community newspapers / magazines, which play an important role in discussing local events and activities around Welsh communities.
The BBC has been the main broadcaster covering Scotland, Wales and England over the past 90 years. The news from BBC Wales / Scotland, on the Radio and via Television, is mostly through an English perspective.
Wales has been very lucky to have S4C, the Welsh language channel, which has been broadcasting since 1982. Its news program has been broadcasting Welsh language news through a majority Welsh perspective for the last 30 years.
First Time for Everything
As mentioned above, Wales didn’t have an English language news service through a Welsh perspective for many years, that was until Nation.Cymru launched in 2017. Since it has launched it has been commenting on Welsh issues and providing a Welsh perspective on different matters.
Nation.Cymru has been very popular with the Welsh public, and has been commenting also on the progression of the Welsh independence movement. The call for stronger Welsh media has developed hand in hand with the growth of the Welsh independence movement.
It is obvious with the development of Welsh media, that people’s political perspectives are also developing, as more subjects get discussed through a Welsh perspective in the media.
Two brand new Welsh news sites, Herald.Wales – which is an online based news site, and The National Wales which has an online news site as well as printing papers, have been launched in the past month, and their popularity is already clear. Their popularity is clearly linked with the rise in the discussions about independence, and the development of a Welsh identity.
As well as the development of Welsh news services, recent events have proven that Wales might be on course in getting its own broadcasting services in the near future as well.
On the 11th of March, A cross-party committee in the Senedd published a report which called on the devolution of certain aspects of broadcasting to Wales. The report, amongst other things, called for the devolution of S4C to the Senedd (as well as Welsh language broadcasting), for the Senedd to fund English language journalism in Wales at an arm’s length, and for Wales to be given other enhanced broadcasting responsibilities.
Although this would only be a small change within the broadcasting spectrum, it would open the door for the possibility of devolving more powers regarding broadcasting in the future.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith have praised the developments as a good beginning, and that a positive step forward would be to create a replacement to Ofcom in Wales.
The developing Welsh perspective with the media would clearly have a different narrative compared with the London-Centric views of the BBC that exists now.
Scotland is at the same level as Wales when it comes to broadcasting, and it’s clear that any changes that will happen in Wales is surely going to happen in Scotland also.
Many Scots, who voted for Scottish independence have been wary to trust the BBC and English broadcasting in general, claiming that the BBC’s bias in favour of the Union was quite clear in the 2014 referendum.
As the media develops a stronger Welsh perspective it will without a doubt continue to develop awareness in Wales around political, economical and social issues.
Wales’s politics and social changes in the past have come at a radical and fast moving pace. The developing Welsh media could play a part in making changes in Wales come even faster in the next few years, or even in the next few months. What this new media does is it allows Wales to look at its own needs and requirements, rather than being told what it’s requirements are. As more powers are devolved to Wales, such as policing and prisons, and a Welsh legal jurisdiction is created, the new media will play a role in helping the people of Wales understand these developments and how it will affect them.
As Herald.Wales, Nation.Cymru, The National Wales and all the other Welsh news services start to be accepted as reliable and National news sources, and as broadcasting powers start to be devolved to the Senedd, we could see a shift in Welsh national identity, and the path that Wales chooses moving further and further away from England’s.
Wales is catching up to Scotland quite rapidly, and the development of Welsh media will only quicken the pace which Wales will catch up with them.
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