Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

Yn ôl i Chwilio

Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu

Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee

15/02/2018

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Jenny Rathbone AC
Lee Waters AC Yn dirprwyo ar ran Jack Sargeant
Substitute for Jack Sargeant
Mick Antoniw AC
Neil Hamilton AC
Rhianon Passmore AC
Sian Gwenllian AC Cadeirydd dros dro
Temporary Chair
Suzy Davies AC

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

David Anderson Cyfarwyddwr Cyffredinol, Amgueddfa Cymru
Director General, National Museum Wales
Glyn Mathias Cadeirydd, Pwyllgor Cynghori Cymru Ofcom
Chair, Ofcom Advisory Committee for Wales
Hywel Wiliam Aelod, Pwyllgor Cynghori Cymru Ofcom
Member, Ofcom Advisory Committee for Wales
Neil Stock Cyfarwyddwr Trwyddedu Darlledu, Ofcom
Director of Broadcasting Licensing, Ofcom
Neil Wicks Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr a Chyfarwyddwr Cyllid ac Adnoddau Corfforaethol, Amgueddfa Cymru
Deputy Director and Director of Finance and Corporate Resources, National Museum Wales
Nia Williams Cyfarwyddwr Addysg ac Ymgysylltu, Amgueddfa Cymru
Director of Education and Engagement, National Museum Wales
Rhodri Williams Cyfarwyddwr Cymru, Ofcom
Director in Wales, Ofcom

Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru a oedd yn bresennol

National Assembly for Wales Officials in Attendance

Lowri Harries Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Manon Huws Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Robin Wilkinson Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Steve George Clerc
Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:36.

The meeting began at 09:36.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Bore da, a chroeso, bawb, i Bwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu. A oes yna unrhyw ddatganiadau o fuddiant gan yr Aelodau, os gwelwch yn dda? Na. Diolch yn fawr.

Ymddiheuriadau a dirprwyon. Rydym ni wedi cael ymddiheuriadau gan y Cadeirydd, Bethan Jenkins, ac rwy’n siŵr bod y pwyllgor yn anfon ein dymuniadau gorau i Bethan ar ei phriodas.

Mae Jack Sargeant, Aelod Cynulliad Alun a Glannau Dyfrdwy, wedi cael ei ethol yn aelod o’r pwyllgor yma ddoe, ac mi fydd o’n dechrau ar ei waith efo’r pwyllgor ar ôl toriad hanner tymor. Yn y cyfamser, mae Lee Waters yma, yn mynychu’r cyfarfod fel dirprwy ar ran Jack Sargeant. Ond hoffwn i ddiolch yn fawr iawn i Lee am ei waith trwyadl ac am ei holi cadarn yn ystod y cyfnod y mae o wedi bod ar y pwyllgor yma. Felly, diolch yn fawr iawn a phob dymuniad da wrth symud ymlaen.

Nid oes yna ddim ymddiheuriadau eraill, heblaw bod Jenny Rathbone yn mynd i fod yn absennol ar gyfer yr eitem gyntaf, ond yn gobeithio ymuno ar gyfer yr eitemau ar ôl hynny.

Good morning, and welcome, everyone, to the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee. Are there any declarations of interest from Members, please? No. Thank you very much.

Apologies and substitutions. We've received an apology from the Chair, Bethan Jenkins, and I'm sure that the committee sends our very best wishes to Bethan on her wedding.

Jack Sargeant, the Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside, was elected as a member of this committee yesterday, and he will be starting his work with the committee following the half term recess. In the meantime, Lee Waters is attending the meeting as a substitute for Jack Sargeant. But I would like to thank Lee very much for his thorough work and his robust scrutiny during the period that he has been a member of this committee. So, thank you very much to you and best wishes to you as you move forward.

There are no other apologies, but Jenny Rathbone will be absent for the first item, but she does hope to join us for the other items.

2. Amgueddfa Cymru: Craffu Cyffredinol
2. National Museum Wales: General Scrutiny

Croeso hefyd i’r panel, i’r tystion, sydd wedi dod atom ni y bore yma—tystion o Amgueddfa Cymru. Ac efallai y gwnaf i ofyn i chi gyflwyno eich hunain i’r pwyllgor, os gwelwch yn dda, yn dechrau efo David.

Welcome also to the panel, to the witnesses, who have joined us this morning—witnesses from National Museum Wales. Perhaps I'll ask you to introduce yourselves to the committee, please, starting with David.

Diolch. David Anderson, director general of the museum, with a collective apology, actually, for our sore throats, bad chests and coughs and colds. If, at a certain point during the evidence giving, I have to leave and hand over to my colleagues to cough loudly, I hope you'll forgive me in that case, then. We'll do our best, but we're all suffering, I have to say, here.

Wel, diolch am ddod o dan yr amgylchiadau, felly.

Well, thanks for coming under those circumstances.

Nia Williams ydw i, a fi yw cyfarwyddwr addysg ac ymgysylltu'r amgueddfa.

I'm Nia Williams, and I'm director of education and engagement at the museum.

Neil Wicks, director of finance and deputy director-general.

Ocê. Diolch yn fawr. Gwnaf i ddechrau lle gorffennwyd, mewn ffordd, y tro diwethaf ichi fod yma. Nid oeddwn i’n aelod o’r pwyllgor, ond rwy’n deall pan yr oeddech chi gerbron y pwyllgor y tro diwethaf, mi oedd gennych bryderon mawr ynglŷn â’r syniad o greu Cymru Hanesyddol. Rwy’n cymryd, erbyn hyn, fod y pryderon yna wedi cilio a’ch bod chi’n hapus â’r sefyllfa sydd wedi datblygu ers y pwyllgor diwethaf.

Okay. Thank you very much. I'll start where we ended the last time that you joined us. I wasn't a member of the committee at that time, but I understand that when you appeared before the committee last time, you had major concerns about the idea of creating Historic Wales. I take it, now, that those concerns have receded somewhat and that you're more content with the developing situation since the last meeting.

I think that the concerns that we expressed were about the proposals for merger. I think that, when I gave evidence a year or so ago, I said that we very much wanted to work in partnership with the other heritage bodies—Cadw, the National Library for Wales, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales—as well as the trade unions. And the 'Historic Wales' report, which was submitted to the Cabinet Secretary at the beginning of last year, was actually a very, very positive proposal, we felt, and which we contributed to, for how we could work together. So, I think there's a great deal of consistency, I would hope, in what I was saying to this committee before and what we now feel about Historic Wales.

We are working very closely with our fellow organisations and trade unions. Nia Williams, for example, is co-chairing a group on skills with Gareth Howells of the Prospect union, and, in my view, that's going extremely well.

09:40

Diolch yn fawr am hynny. Ym mis Mehefin 2017, roedd yna adolygiad wedi cael ei gwblhau gan Dr Simon Thurley, ac 17 o argymhellion yn fanna, yn arbennig yn hoelio sylw ar gynaliadwyedd ariannol y sefydliad yn y dyfodol. A ydych chi'n cytuno efo'r 17 argymhelliad?

Thank you very much for that. In June 2017, a review was undertaken by Dr Simon Thurley, and 17 recommendations were made drawing attention to the financial sustainability of the institution in the future. Do you agree with those 17 recommendations?

We've embraced all 17 recommendations and we are keen to go ahead and implement those as best we can within resource, yes.

A ydych chi, felly, yn derbyn un o'r argymhellion mwyaf dadleuol sydd wedi cael ei wneud ynghylch cyfeiriad a phwrpas, efallai, yr amgueddfeydd yng Nghymru? Hynny yw, mae yna awgrym cryf gan Thurley fod angen i ni newid y ffordd rydym ni'n trafod hanes Cymru o fewn Amgueddfa Cymru. A ydych chi'n cytuno efo hynny?

So, do you accept one of the most controversial recommendations made with regard to the direction and the purpose, perhaps, of the museums in Wales? There is a strong suggestion from Thurley that we need to change the way that we discuss the history of Wales within National Museum Wales. Do you agree with that?

I think it's probably all a matter of interpretation of the words there, really. We think that it is essential that we are a national museum for Wales, that we represent and explore the history of Wales through our different museums and, obviously, some are looking at the industrial side, St Fagans is looking at the social history and the archaeology. It's also there in the art collections and the natural science collections in different ways, too. So, we think that it's really important we start from this being about Wales and the distinctive identity and cultures of Wales. Wales has played a very significant role on the international stage, and I don't think that needs to be seen as endorsing an imperialist or colonialist model of history, or a neo-Tory one, come to that, as well, which I know is one of the comments that's been made. So, we would see this coming out of the way in which we interpret history, which is being much more reflective; critical; encouraging critical thinking; and encouraging an understanding, perhaps, of some of the dark elements of the past as well as the bits that one would always celebrate.

Felly rydych chi'n derbyn beth mae Thurley wedi'i ddweud—bod yna ddiffyg uchelgais yn y stori sydd wedi bod yn cael ei hadrodd.

So you accept what Thurley has said—that there is a lack of ambition in the story that has been told.

Well, those words didn't come up in the actual recommendation, so I was saying that we endorse the recommendations. I, personally, don't think there is a lack of ambition. I think that anybody who goes to see the new galleries at St Fagans when they open in October this year will see that it's a very radical take on the past of Wales, one which involves taking snapshots in history and unpacking the issues that lie behind it.

So, for example, there will be an exhibit related to the suffragette movement, the suffragists. It includes a small, doll-like figure that was pushed through the door, we understand, of a young woman in west Wales. It had pins sticking out of it and it was clearly intended as a deeply unpleasant attack on the individual there. We want to explore how Wales was responding to the suffragists and suffragette movements at the time, and this is what I mean by saying that we need to be honest about the dark side, sometimes, of that history, as well as the brighter side.

But every point of the galleries will be taking an issue and challenging visitors and encouraging visitors to actually think for themselves and to reach their own conclusions, and, very often, to contribute their own ideas back into the shared interpretation of those exhibits.

Diolch yn fawr. Gwnawn ni droi rŵan at Lee Waters, sy'n mynd i drafod y mater niferoedd ymwelwyr a pherfformiad masnachol yr amgueddfa.

Thank you very much. We'll turn now to Lee Waters who's going to discuss issues with regard to visitor numbers and commercial performance.

Thank you. Reading the Thurley review and reading your own submission to us this morning, what comes across is a feeling that you are feeling a little bit put upon by the criticisms. For example, in visitor numbers, you say that achieving 1.7 million at a time when the jewel in the crown of visitor attraction, St Fagans, was being significantly disrupted is an achievement. The Thurley review refers to this as 'stagnation' and thinks that you could have done better. So, is it generally fair to say that you don't feel that your achievements are being properly recognised?

I think, to be fair to Simon Thurley, a lot of our achievements were really recognised in the report. He gave very high praise, for example, to the work around learning and participation that Nia Williams leads. It describes the organisation as being thriving and successful. There were very, very many positives in there. I think, first of all, we can and will achieve higher visitor numbers. So, I think we take an element of the criticism there, and I think it's maybe a matter of nuance on this. We took the decision to keep St Fagans open as far as we could while all the works were going on. If we had closed St Fagans, the figures would have been very much lower. I think we were right to keep it open. It took us a little bit longer to do the project because of that, but nevertheless, in terms of the service to the public of Wales, I think it was the right thing to do.

I also think we believe we can get more visitors to National Museum Cardiff and the slate museum in Llanberis and other sites. We really welcome the recommendation that there should be investment and development of the National Slate Museum and at Caerleon, for example. I think that will boost visitor numbers as well.

I do want to emphasise that we do positively embrace the report and see this as an opportunity to move forward as an organisation. Yes, there are criticisms of us in the report and, yes, some of those criticisms are justified, but overall we feel it's a positive report and one that we will embrace.

09:45

So, you think the description of your visitor numbers as 'stagnating' is fair.

I think that's harsh, shall I put it that way? I think that we feel we've worked very hard to build—. For example, at National Museum Cardiff, we've gone up from about 360,000 to—we're hoping to get over 0.5 million this year. We believe—

It's describing a 34 per cent increase between 2010 and 2015 and says, for

'such an outstanding museum, in a prominent building in a capital city,' 

could it not do better?

I think the answer is it could do better.

I think that the energy that's gone into the St Fagans project is one of the areas. Quite a lot of senior staff have really been devoting every waking hour to working on that project, and inevitably that means that there's been less time to be able to devote to other sites. But, having said that, we are really pushing ahead with new exhibition programmes and new learning programmes at National Museum Cardiff. I think that what we want to do is to get the opportunity to work more with Cardiff city council, Visit Wales, and others—which we did, actually, just after Simon Thurley did his research. He was, after all, taking a point in time, which was the first half of 2017. During the summer of 2017, with wonderful support from Visit Wales, we did the dino babies exhibition, and that was a great attraction for visitors and helped to contribute to the record numbers we're confident of getting this year in National Museum Cardiff.

Okay. So, given all that then, the target the Welsh Government sets you in its remit letter—a suggested target of 1.8 million, 100,000 more than you currently have—seems a fairly conservative target, given that you're going to be opening this spectacular new addition to St Fagans. I've seen it in progress and it looks splendid. So, an extra 100,000 should be easy-peasy, shouldn't it?

Well, the extra 100,000 was for the year that we are in at the moment, the 2017-18 year. St Fagans isn't fully open until autumn 2018, so I think—

So, next year, then, what do you expect to be able to achieve, given that you'll have St Fagans?

We haven't yet had a discussion with the Welsh Government about exactly what figures will be our target for that, but we would hope we will go beyond the 1.8 million.

Yes, well, that's this year's target, so I would hope you'd go over the 1.8 million. 

We share that aspiration.

I think that we wouldn't—. We did say that it would take us five years to really build up the audience after St Fagans opens properly, so I think it would be rash of me to say that there'll be a sudden blitz of visitors immediately. We will have work to do to do the marketing and promotion and to build up the links with the tourism industry, which we are doing at the moment, so I think it'll be a gradual increase to reach our final target, not an immediate one.

And just to touch on, umm, Historic Wales—pardon me, I temporarily forgot the name of the damn thing, which given the heat it generated from you in particular in your last evidence session is unforgivable, really. You were very exercised about it. Having seen what's been agreed amongst you as a partnership, I don't really understand why you are so exercised, because it doesn't seem to have amounted to very much.

Well, I think it's amounted to a very, very positive proposal. Again, I would make the distinction I've made before, a few minutes ago, between merger of national institutions and partnership. So, if you like, what you described as 'heat' related to merger, and I probably wasn't the only person who was feeling that that was a very significant proposal there. I think the partnership work we've always supported and are very, very keen to continue with.

Well, you said it was a merger. It was never formally a merger, was it? Actually looking at what's been announced by the Welsh Government, in terms of the things that you're going to be practically doing as a result, perhaps you could describe to me what you think the major advances are, because they seem rather modest to me.

Well, I think on the skills side, perhaps I could pass over to Nia, because she's leading on that bit, and we can pick up afterwards.

09:50

O ran y sgiliau, rydym ni wedi bod yn gweithio gyda’r llyfrgell genedlaethol, gyda Cadw, gyda’r comisiwn brenhinol, gyda’r undebau llafur, ac rydym ni wrthi’n datblygu strategaeth sgiliau i’r sector. Rydym ni wedi bod yn gwneud awdit o sgiliau ar draws y sector, o ran lle, efallai, y bydd yna broblemau gyda ni yn y dyfodol. Rydym ni wrthi’n cydweithio gyda’n gilydd. Rydym ni'n gobeithio cael y drafft cyntaf o’r strategaeth honno at ei gilydd erbyn mis Mai nawr. Mae hynny, wrth gwrs, yn creu ffordd ymlaen i ni fel sector.

Rydym ni ein hunain wedi rhoi rhai pethau ar waith yn barod. Er enghraifft, yn Big Pit, mae gennym ni brentisiaid. Rydym ni'n gwybod na fyddwn ni'n gallu cynnal Big Pit fel profiad ymwelwyr yn y dyfodol achos, wrth gwrs, nid oes glowyr gyda ni yng Nghymru mwyach. Felly, rydym ni wedi datblygu rhaglen ar gyfer prentisiaid yn fanna, sydd yn barod ar waith. Mae gennym ni bedwar prentis yn Big Pit ac fe fyddwn ni’n penodi dau arall yn yr haf, ym mis Medi. Mae gennym ni'r ferch gyntaf o dan ddaear hefyd. Felly, mae hynny’n stori i ni.

Rwy’n meddwl bod yna bethau rydym ni'n gallu eu gwneud gyda’n gilydd—gyda Cadw, er enghraifft, gyda’r prentisiaid cadwraeth sydd gyda Cadw, a’r gwaith rydym ni'n gwneud gyda’r tîm adeiladu hanesyddol yn Sain Ffagan—fel ein bod ni fel sector yn gweithio gyda’n gilydd i gynnal prentisiaid, i gynnal profiadau gwaith, ond hefyd o ran mentora staff. Mae hynny’n rhywbeth a fydd yn dod allan o’r strategaeth rydym wrthi’n gweithio arni.

In terms of skills, we've been working with the national library, Cadw, the royal commission and the trade unions, and we are currently developing a skills strategy for the sector. We've carried out an audit of skills across the sector, in terms of where we may have problems in future. We are working together. We are hoping to get the first draft of that strategy together by May. Then, that, of course, provides a way forward for us as a sector.

We ourselves have put certain things in train already. In Big Pit, for example, we have apprentices. We know that we won't be able to maintain Big Pit as a visitor experience in the future because we no longer have coal miners in Wales. So, we have developed a particular programme for apprentices there, which is already up and running. We have four apprentices in Big Pit and we will be appointing another two in the summer or in September. We have the first woman working underground too. So, that's a good news story for us.

I think there are things that we can do together—with Cadw, for example, in terms of the conservation apprentices they have, and our work with the historic buildings team in St Fagans—so that we as a sector are working together to maintain apprenticeships, work experience, but also in terms of staff mentoring. This is also something that will emerge from the strategy that we're currently working on.

Do you see that action plan as a starting point and you’d be looking to build it up?

Absolutely, yes. We also have, for example, agreed that we would be working together on how to improve the visitor experience across all the different sites of Cadw—the national museum particularly, and the library. I think that’s a very important piece of work, because the increase in tourist numbers to Wales will partly depend on the quality of the visitor experience. We’re very, very keen that this should be something that builds on, if you like, the research that’s been done by our curators, the expertise of our learning team in how to interpret our sites, and the same will be true for Cadw as well.

We do see that the proposed redevelopment of the Roman town, if you like, in Caerleon is a fantastic opportunity for us to work together with Cadw very specifically, but also Visit Wales, and also the royal commission, which will hold evidence about Roman sites across Wales, and the local partners as well—the archaeological trusts and others. That will, we believe, bring much more income into that region of Wales, in the same way as we’d hope that development of the slate interpretation across the whole of the Snowdonia area, which we would contribute to, will bring a great increase in tourism and income and jobs to north-west Wales.

Just on Historic Wales, many of the things you've agreed to are rather mundane—joint Welsh classes, for example. One of the aspirations I note you have is exploring greater revenue from car parks. In terms of your current commercial performance, the Thurley review noted you were rather overdependent on car parks as a way of generating commercial revenue, which has accounted for the majority of the profit of your trading arm. He's quite critical that you are significantly more reliant on grant in aid than your English or Scottish counterparts. So, do you think that's a fair criticism of your commercial performance?

I'll pass over to my colleague, Neil, to talk about the details of the commercial performance in a moment. My general comment would be that, actually, our commercial performance is very, very similar to that of National Museums Scotland—virtually identical—and, in fact, the evidence that's in the Thurley report shows that very clearly.

I think it's inappropriate to compare a national museum in Wales, or come to that Scotland or Northern Ireland, with a London national museum. I've worked in London—I worked at the V&A for 20 years—I have seen how relatively easy it is to get commercial income, trust and foundation money, and private sponsorship in London, compared with here in Cardiff.

But, there does seem to be—if I'm reading between the lines correctly—a philosophical difference between you and the Government on this. You strongly feel that the commercial elements of what you do should be kept to a minimum, whereas the Government has tried to find ways to get you to charge for certain exhibitions, which you've resisted. You're focusing instead on car parks.

I'm a little bit concerned about the sources of information you have in saying that. We embrace commercial development. For a number of years now—

You're embracing it—what you're embracing is primarily around charging for car parking. You'll pardon my scepticism.

You'll pardon me for saying I feel that's not an entirely fair way of presenting our position.

I will take it. I think anybody who's worked in the national museum would be saying that we, as an organisation, have been working very hard over the last four or five years particularly to generate more income—well before the Thurley review. We welcome his recommendations in this area—for example, that there should be a commercial director, and we will be implementing that. But, there’s never been any resistance, certainly on my part or my senior colleagues', to saying that we should be generating more income. We see the best model for national museums like ourselves, as for the rest of the UK as well, as being about having a foundation of grant in aid and then being as enterprising as possible in generating more income to enable us to do developments, new projects, and other work. So, I don’t think there’s any evidence we’ve resisted commercial developments at all. I do think that it is that mix of public funding, which all national museums have in the UK, and commercial energy that’s actually vital for us to go forward into the future. I think we feel we’re actually a very ambitious organisation, both intellectually but also commercially, and I would like to give Neil an opportunity to say a little bit more about the commercial developments, because he has spearheaded a lot of this.

09:55

I think the year that Thurley is referring to wasn't a particularly good year commercially for Amgueddfa Cymru. The profits in the areas that you've referred to were down in that year. A lot of that was primarily due to the redevelopment of St Fagans and other reasons. But, if we take a comparison to where we are now, at this point in time in this financial year, we anticipate that, when the trading company reports, the actual profit will double. So, when we report—it will be 31 March—I anticipate, broadly, the profit will double as compared to last year.

Overall, last year, we had a non-Government-source income, if you like, of £10.3 million, which was actually more than Scotland, and certainly more than Northern Ireland or the Irish Republic. So, of that £10.3 million, it's broadly split between £5 million capital, restricted for what purpose we're able to use that, and £5 million unrestricted—generally, revenue. So, I think £5 million is actually a good performance in terms of an organisation.

What we would anticipate is that, for next year, that will go up broadly 10 per cent, in the next financial year, starting in April. So, we have already taken strides. We have introduced commercial initiatives. One of those is the high ropes, which will come to fruition in July, and we will be doing other initiatives during the 2018-19 financial year and into the future.

We recognise that there is more to do. I don't think we've ever suggested otherwise. But, I think it should be recognised, when we compare to similar museums in Northern Ireland and Scotland, actually, our income level that is non-Government is higher. It's certainly directly comparable in revenue with Scotland, and it's higher than the other two.

In terms of what we would hope to do going forward, we have plans in place to increase donations—as in cash donations as you're coming through the door. We also have used our events and major-type events, which we do charge for, and have done for a considerable number of years. But, equally, in the year we're referring to, because of the redevelopment of St Fagans, we weren't able to hold those events during that year. So, it did impact on the profit in that year. But, those have now been brought back and they were held successfully at the Halloween and Christmas that have just passed. We will be appointing a commercial director. We will be looking to develop a membership scheme. We also are looking, and the plans are in place, to increase corporate sponsorship and other gifts in that way to the museum, which will include legacies or a different variety.

So, what we would hope is that we have a pipeline, but it does take time for that pipeline to come to fruition. But, even directly, I would anticipate a 10 per cent overall increase in revenue gross income in the next financial year. 

Thank you. Just on that point, obviously, you're looking at a reasonable rise over a period of time there, are you concerned at all that that'll be used as an excuse by Welsh Government to cut your income further? Or, are you viewing it as additional income that you can invest? 

We've had, for a considerable number of years, maybe four or five years, 10-year financial projections. So, some of this income growth, as part of that—. The committee will be well aware from previously that we've had a savings plan in place for two or three years. Part of that savings plan was a growth in income. So, some of that growth in income is already accounted for to displace some of the cuts that have been made. Of course, we're an organisation and, as Lee has quite clearly alluded to, we are quite reliant on, if it were, the Government grant, but at the same time, the financial planning that has been given to us for the next two years is extremely helpful in terms of stability on the Government grant in aid that we receive. That will give us time to grow it, but of course, as with any organisation of our type, we have core functions, and we do have free entry, which we need to maintain and then grow the income at the same time.

But there is always, yes, of course, a fear that one will be used to replace the other. But we will have to continue with our plans, because they're part of the projections anyway. We believe, and as David has said, the commercial—and it's not just commercial that is slightly more—but the non-Government income is a significant part of what we do. Last year's accounts show that it was approximately a third of our total income last year in terms of the published accounts.

10:00

Okay, thank you. Some of that income, of course, came for the—well, it was the first time—charging exhibitions. You've had two or maybe three now. That sounds as if that's built into your plans. I want to ask you a little bit more about that, but I want to mention first that that's only going to work if you get more visitors coming through the door to those exhibitions.

And you mentioned earlier, David, tourism. In the paper that you gave to us, you didn't really mention working in partnership with Visit Wales and VisitBritain, but you did mention it very briefly there. Would you like to expand on what that—? Tell us about your partnerships that aren't Historic Wales.

Indeed, yes. I think the first thing is that for the dino babies exhibition that we had in the summer, we benefited from a grant from Visit Wales, which was for the marketing and promotion of the exhibition. That campaign actually won an award, and I can remember it was the global International Design and Communication Awards in Los Angeles; it wasn't just a UK award or a Welsh award, it was a global one, there. Now, that was only possible because Visit Wales backed the exhibition and believed it was worth supporting. So, we have to come up with the right products, if you like, in order to make sure that Visit Wales can feel that we deserve support, and we hopefully will do so.

I think if we get our job done right, it will be one of the contributions towards Visit Wales getting more tourists in. Forty-two per cent of the visitors to all our seven sites come from outside Wales, and I think the figure is something like 12 or 13 per cent who come from outside the UK. So, the more we can increase the number of people who're coming across the border from outside Wales into our museums and, come to that, Cadw sites and others too, the better it is for the Welsh economy.

Okay. So, presumably, you're hoping to grow that 12 or 13 per cent from outside the UK, which would mean, perhaps, working with VisitBritain. I read your recent remarks regarding being unwilling to stand under the Great banner, which I'm not sure if I agree with you completely; I'd have thought that you were well placed at the moment to bring what Wales has to offer to that Great brand. What are your plans for doing that?

Well, I think the thing I was particularly concerned about was that I was standing underneath the banner that was promoting the Tate gallery, really, and it would've been nice if they'd been promoting our museum in Wales, rather than that.

Absolutely. Well, I think that's what we would hope will happen. And also, I should say, actually, that the Welsh staff in the VisitBritain team do a great job in helping to promote Wales as well. But I think all of us are aware that we often have to push to get Wales's voice heard in UK fora, and I think that was really my main point in that.

One of the great things that's been happening in recent years is that Visit Wales has been increasingly putting an emphasis on culture as part of the sale for Wales. Over the last year, we've had four visits to our museum by the Japanese ambassador. He has also brought the leading tourism bodies in Japan that are inbound into the UK—the airlines, or the tourism company has actually brought them to the museum in Cathays Park and shown them just what a wonderful set of galleries there are there. And it's doing everything possible to promote the museums back in London and internationally as well.

Now, this is a huge asset for us in Wales. We're staging an exhibition about the history of the relationship between Wales and Japan over 400 years this summer. We're getting the support of the national museum of Japan, of the National Museum of Japanese History, the cultural agency in Japan, the Japanese Government and the Japanese ambassador. We're working, also, with Hitachi and other Japanese companies that are based in Wales to support and sponsor the exhibition. Altogether, we see this as being a wonderful platform for us to work together with Visit Wales, and to make sure that we have a long-term impact in terms of Japanese tourism.

10:05

It sounds excellent, actually, and speaks to that wider ambition that came up in the Thurley review about Wales and its place in the world, not just in Wales. Is that likely to be an exhibition you charge for?

We won't charge for that one because of the very heavy level of subsidy from the Japanese Government there. All the costs for the Japanese elements in this exhibition are being covered by the Japanese Government, so on a kind of reciprocal basis, we will hope to get our income from the merchandise, so, if you like, the associated programmes, and we'll also want to get as many visitors in to see this exhibition as we can. So, I think there's a kind of understanding that it might not have been appropriate in this case, but I do want to emphasise: our general principle is if there aren't some special circumstances, we would normally expect to charge for an exhibition, and that will be our policy. It's what we did for dino babies and it's what we plan to do for future exhibitions as well.

Just briefly, are you able to tell us what would be your criteria for charging and not charging—I appreciate there'll be exceptions for children and things like that, but the general principle of what's chargeable and what wouldn't be?

Our starting point is that we should charge for an exhibition unless—and that comes back to your criteria, really. I think the first thing is the exceptions, as you say. I think the second thing is that if the exhibition is really quite small and it's going to cost us more to run a control in the gallery by putting staff there than it would do otherwise, then it may not actually make enough income to make it justifiable to do that. I mean, I think that, essentially, unless there is a relationship with a supporting partner like the Japanese Government, we would expect to charge, other than for those factors.

That's interesting. Can I just sneak one quick one in? It's about e-commerce—that's on your to-do list at the moment. What do you mean by e-commerce and how much is that likely to contribute in your forward plan to the bottom line? 

What we mean by e-commerce in this particular example is—if you were a shop online, it's particularly where there's some merchandising and trading in that way. It's not particularly a big product or turnover for us at the moment, but there's also something about being represented within that area and that's where we are at the moment. So, we do fulfill across it, and it's an area that I would hope the commercial director will look at further when they come in. So, it exists, but it is to be developed, and I think that some of the expertise Thurley was referring to—we would hope that that would be one area they would take forward because we are taking the other areas forward that I've alluded to already. 

Well, that's what I was going to ask, really. It's not just about buying the badges—

—it's about selling expertise and selling bits of copyright and so on. That would be for your new director, would it? I'm out of time, I'm afraid. 

No, sorry, I was particularly relating that to trading. We already sell expertise in our collections and research division particularly, and that contributes to the overall income that is non-Government income through research and other areas in terms of expertise, and it contributes around about £600,000 a year now, and we would hope to grow that going forward.

Sorry—the commercial director I was referring to this morning was in terms of the trading and the marketing of that particular product. 

Diolch. Trown rŵan at ddysgu, addysg a chysylltiad cymdeithasol. Mae Thurley yn brolio'r amgueddfa genedlaethol, yn dweud eich bod chi'n arweinydd yn y maes yng ngweithgaredd amgueddfeydd, ac yn enwedig y cysylltiad efo taclo tlodi a'r agweddau diwylliannol yna. Pa wersi sydd yna i sefydliadau eraill yn y maes diwylliannol ddysgu o'r gwaith rydych chi fel amgueddfa yn amlwg yn llwyddo ynddo fo?

Thank you. We turn now to learning, education and social engagement. Thurley praises the national museum, saying that you're a leader in this area of museum activity with regard to museums, and especially the link with tackling poverty and those particular cultural issues. What lessons are there for other institutions in the cultural sphere to learn from you as a museum? You're obviously succeeding in this area. 

Wel, oes, mae yna wersi. Mae Cyfuno, wrth gwrs, yn cynnig cyfle inni rannu peth o'n gwaith ni, ac rydym ni, o ran Cyfuno, yn arwain mewn tair ffordd, really. Rydym ni wedi bod yn bartner strategol gyda MALD ers y cychwyn cyntaf, ac mae hynny wedi ein galluogi ni i weld y rhaglenni Cyfuno yna yn esblygu a datblygu dros dair blynedd, ac wrth i'r llyfrgell genedlaethol, er enghraifft, ddod yn fwy o ran o Cyfuno eleni, rydym ni'n gallu rhannu peth o'n profiad ni gyda nhw.

Rydym ni hefyd wedi bod yn gweithio gyda gwasanaeth gwybodaeth a dadansoddi y Llywodraeth, a ni sy'n rhannu'r gwaith o werthuso Cyfuno, ac mae'r adroddiadau gwerthuso yna—rydym ni wedi cyflawni dau nawr—bellach ar-lein. Ac mae'r rheini, wrth gwrs, yn cynnig dadansoddiad ymchwil sydd yn galluogi amgueddfeydd lleol a'r sector treftadaeth ehangach i ddysgu oddi wrth yr hyn rydym ni wedi bod yn ei wneud gyda Cyfuno—yn pwyntio at yr hyn sydd yn gweithio, lle mae yna werth i'r arian yng ngwaith Cyfuno, ac efallai ardaloedd sydd ddim yn gweithio cystal. Felly, mae hyn yn rhoi fframwaith da inni rannu'r gwaith gyda'r sector treftadol ar draws Cymru.

Well, yes, there are lessons to be learnt, of course. Cyfuno offers us an opportunity to share our good practice, and, in terms of Cyfuno, we lead the way in three ways, really. We have been a strategic partner with MALD since the outset, and that has enabled us to see those developing over three years, and as the national library becomes more of a part of that programme this year, we can share our experiences with them.

We've also been working with the Government information and analysis service, and we are sharing the work of evaluating the Cyfuno programme, and those evaluation reports—we've completed two of those online now, and those, of course, provide a research analysis that enable local museums and the broader heritage sector to learn from what we've been doing with the Cyfuno/Fusion programme: pointing to things that work, where there is value for money in the Fusion programme, and looking at areas that perhaps aren't working as well. So, that gives us a good framework for us to share work with the heritage sector across Wales.

10:10

A ydych chi'n teimlo bod yna le i fynd mewn ambell ardal o'r sector o hyd, a'ch bod chi'n gallu rhoi'r arweiniad yna?

Do you feel that there is more to do in other areas of the sector, still, then, and that you can give that leadership?

Oes, mae yna. Rydym ni wedi trio cynnal hefyd tipyn o gynadleddau gwahanol. Fe wnaethom ni, yn ein gwaith gwirfoddoli ni—ers tair blynedd, mae gennym ni wobr Buddsoddi mewn Gwirfoddolwyr. Nid oes yna nifer o sefydliadau yn y sector treftadol sydd â'r bathodyn hwnnw. Felly, fe wnaethom ni, nôl ym mis Ebrill y llynedd, gynnal cynhadledd ar wirfoddoli treftadol, ac roedd honno'n gynhadledd a gynhaliwyd ar draws y Deyrnas Unedig. Fe wnaethom ni werthu allan o ran y tocynnau, ac roedd hwnnw'n gyfle eto inni ddangos peth o'n gwaith ni a chaniatáu pobl eraill i gwestiynu hwnnw ac i ddysgu am sut i fynd ati i osod rhai o'r fframweithiau yna yn eu gwaith nhw.

Ni hefyd, wrth gwrs, yw'r darparwr addysg dreftadol mwyaf y tu allan i'r ystafell ddosbarth yng Nghymru, ac rydym ni eto wedi defnyddio ymchwil. Gwnaethom ni broject difyr iawn, iawn yn Abertawe—rydw i'n edrych ar Suzy yma—yn Amgueddfa Genedlaethol y Glannau, lle cawsom ni ddosbarth cynradd i fod yn yr amgueddfa am hanner tymor cyfan. Felly, nid yn mynd a dod, fel y mae plant ysgol fel arfer gyda ni, ond yna am y cyfnod cyfan. Rydym ni'n cael gweld, gyda King's College, trwy'r gwaith ymchwil yna, lle yn arbennig y gall treftadaeth ac amgueddfeydd wneud gwahaniaeth i ddysgu, fel ein bod ni'n ategu'r dysgu sydd yn digwydd yn yr ystafell ddosbarth yn hytrach na chystadlu gyda fe. Beth oedd yn hynod o ddiddorol am y gwaith yna oedd y dylanwad cadarnhaol a gafodd ar lythrennedd, ac yn arbennig ar lefaredd plant—eu hyder nhw i siarad, eu hyder nhw i drafod eu dysgu eu hunain, a gwneud hynny yn y cartref. Mae hynny wedi arwain at deuluoedd yn ardaloedd Cyfuno Abertawe yn dod i'r amgueddfa—teuluoedd nad oeddynt yn dod o'r blaen.

Mae hwn, efallai, yn fodel ar gyfer y cwricwlwm newydd yng Nghymru. Mae profiad yn mynd i fod yn faes pwysig iawn yn y cwricwlwm newydd, ac rydym ni'n teimlo bod gyda ni esiamplau da y byddwn ni'n eu rhannu—rydym ni wrthi yn eu rhannu gyda'r rhai sydd yn llunio'r cwricwlwm newydd ar hyn o bryd, ac mae honno'n ffordd arall, efallai, eto o ran astudiaethau achos i ni allu rhannu gyda'r sector ehangach.

Certainly, yes. We've also tried to stage certain conferences. In terms of our volunteering work—for three years, we've had an Investing in Volunteers award. There aren't many organisations in the heritage sector that have that particular honour. Back in April of last year we held a conference on heritage volunteering, and that was a pan-UK conference. We sold out in terms of the tickets and that was another opportunity to show what we were doing, and to allow others to learn how to put some of these frameworks in place in terms of their own work.

We are also the largest provider of heritage education outside of the classroom in Wales, and, again, we have used research—we had a very interesting project in Swansea, and I'm looking to Suzy here, at the National Waterfront Museum, where we had a class from a primary school who were at the museum for a full half-term. So, they didn't come in and out, as schoolchildren usually do, but were there for a full half-term. Through the research of King's College we can identify where heritage and museums can make a difference to learning so that we enhance the learning happening in the classroom rather than competing with it. What was particularly interesting about that work was the positive impact that it had on literacy, and particularly oracy—their confidence in speaking and discussing their own learning, and also doing that in the home. That has led to families in the Fusion area of Swansea coming to the museum that weren't coming previously.

This is perhaps a model for the new curriculum in Wales. Experience is going to be an important aspect of the new curriculum, and we feel that we have some very good examples that we are currently sharing with those drawing up the new curriculum at the moment, and that's another way, perhaps, in terms of case studies that we could share with the broader sector.

Diolch yn fawr. Cyn i ni droi at edrych yn benodol ar Amgueddfa Lechi Cymru, Llanberis, ac Amgueddfa Lleng Rufeinig Cymru, mae rhywun yn sylwi bod adroddiad Thurley—nid oes ganddo lawer i'w ddweud am Big Pit. Felly, a ydy popeth yn hollol wych yn Big Pit?

Thank you very much. Before we turn to looking at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis and the National Roman Legion Museum, one notes that the Thurley report doesn't have much to say about Big Pit. So, is everything excellent in Big Pit?

A personal view is that we've not had investment in a number of our sites over a decade or so, or two decades in some cases, or more. Inevitably, and in many ways, properly, St Fagans has been the focus in the last five years for our work. But we really, really welcome the Thurley report's recommendations that we should now invest in the slate museum and the Roman legion museum. So, I think Big Pit is—

No, no, and then I was going to say 'and also in Big Pit'. And I have to say, in our other sites—I think there's some refreshing we could be doing in Swansea, and actually for more support to be given to the wool museum. But the way that the funding system works is that it's very difficult for us to be getting investment in more than one site at a time, really. Again, this is an area where, perhaps inevitably, Wales is rather disadvantaged compared with London. The Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting numerous projects in London at any one time in addition to the different national museums. We can't really operate in the same way in Wales. I think we would wish to be doing more than one project at one time if we possibly could.

Well, it's partly because of the amount of—and this is a comparison between the amount of money that we have compared with the London nationals. Generally speaking, the London national museums have got much bigger reserves than we have. Our reserves are very, very low by comparison, and one needs to be able to put some money down on the table from some source or another to be able to match Heritage Lottery Fund money. Now, the Welsh Government has been incredibly generous and given us £7 million for St Fagans, and obviously any further developments at Big Pit or the other sites will rely upon similar investment as well. But it's also a matter of us being able to put some money in too. That's critically important.

We actually think that developing sites is partly about investing in the infrastructure, and that's critically important. But it's also about looking at how we can use what we have best as well, and I think that the work that's been done to make many of our sites more dementia friendly, and the introduction of the dementia underground tours at Big Pit, for example, is a way of very creatively using the facilities that we have at the moment. So, I think it's partly then about rethinking our ways of working, as well as investing and, ideally, doing those two things simultaneously if we can. St Fagans is an example of where we've rethought, if you like, the purpose of St Fagans, rethought the way in which we worked. We have a huge number of volunteers now working with us at St Fagans, a total of over 700 volunteers across our different sites and 23,000 volunteer hours in the last year. That is actually helping to make St Fagans. It's not just the staff and the contractors who are doing it, it's the public that are making St Fagans as well. I think that's a very innovative way of working, and it's an example of how we in Wales can lead the world, actually, in methodology. We're getting a lot of interest from elsewhere, the UK and internationally, in what we're doing at St Fagans because of that.

10:15

A couple of questions about the National Slate Museum, which I enjoy very much and I've visited many times. It's a strange comment, really:

'Much enjoyed by its visitors',

which I can endorse, but

'interpretation is tired and old-fashioned'.

There's a criticism there that it could actually be far more open and be achieving a lot more. How do you take those comments and how have you responded to them?

The first thing I'd say is we should give credit to the staff at the museum for the work they're doing to make the most of the site there, and I think one thing that's mentioned in the report, if I recall, is the work that they've been doing with the cruise liners coming into north-west Wales and arranging tours. The staff have been very, very flexible, very creative in putting together programmes for the cruise liner visitors, really. So, I wouldn't wish the comments in the Thurley report to be seen as a criticism of the team there.

I think what we would say is it goes back to saying it needs investment. There's huge potential there for this to be a really strong centre for cultural tourism in Wales. We hope that the Snowdonia world heritage site bid is successful. We're partners in that, and we're also working with Bangor University, Gwynedd Council and the national park and local businesses already there. We would like to see ways of interpreting the slate industry in Wales that draw upon the geology skills of some of our staff, that draw upon the art collections that illustrate the landscape, that work very closely with the learning teams, to bring innovative interpretations in. I think an investment to upgrade this and also to invest in apprenticeships and showing the visitors more of the traditional skills that were associated with the slate industry would all be ways in which we could develop the site. We don't, at the moment, have anywhere on that site where we can put light-sensitive or environment-sensitive collections, which restricts us terribly in terms of how we can interpret it. If we had investment in improved gallery facilities and opportunities to revive the traditional industry areas around that site, we could really do wonderful things. I think that it's doing really well already, and I would defend it very much, but, actually, we could do some more fantastic things with investment.

Well, the opportunity's there; it's described as a honey-pot location and there is an enormous amount developing around it in the whole area. The suggestion's been made there should be a more ambitious role for the museum in the tourism of Snowdonia. Is it the investment issue? Is it finance that is really holding back the development of that? If you had more finance, what would you be doing differently that you don't do now?

I think, fundamentally, it's finance, absolutely, as it is for other sites as well. But, if I may, I'll hand over to Neil, who's leading on Llanberis.

Our ambition would be to have it as a major tourist destination within north Wales, as a regional development, perhaps a gateway to slate heritage in north Wales—a world-class museum in itself in terms of gallery spaces, as David has alluded to, that would, in turn, increase its visitor numbers. As I speak, at this present moment, the visitor numbers to the National Slate Museum are up on last year; only marginally, but they are up. So, as David has alluded to, the staff do a really good job in maintaining what we have—

10:20

Is that increase mainly a spin-off, though, from the other activities that are around? You mentioned the conjoined—

I think it would be hard to say that, really, one way or the other at this point in time. The other one is about local partnerships with businesses, for example the slate quarries that are still operated, Electric Mountain and the other things that are particularly close. So, perhaps some sort of vision and ambition as a centre within its own community and region. But I think the other one then is that, within the slate museum, there are workshops there, two of which are still operational. It would be perhaps a case of using those in terms of heritage skills and crafts in the same way that we've begun to develop at St Fagans. The other one is also then that, in terms of learning, there is very little space on the site in terms of a learning centre, particularly for schoolchildren, but that then needs to be perhaps combined with a world-class display. So, we do have ambition. We set up a group literally in the last two months to work with staff and to have some of those early discussions with key stakeholders in the region, and that will be taking place over the next few months.

The suggestions or comments in respect of the Roman legion museum are perhaps more defined, because, obviously, you've got the Cadw site there, which is a tremendous site. I've visited many times; I've never actually been to the Roman legion museum. I'd almost endorse the comments made there, because it's something that always occurred to me that there seems to be a separation of those, and of course that's seen as something that's holding back what is an incredible site for tourism. How do you see those comments made—and resolving those?

I think in terms of Caerleon it is a slightly different approach because it would be much more multi-agency, which would make a lot more sense in terms of that partnership and developing the town and the area, of which the museum is a part. Therefore, those discussions need to be held with those other agencies on how it could be done in partnership to take it forward. Perhaps it could be a Heritage Lottery Fund bid going forward, but we would need—. I think those agencies—. And there is a role, perhaps, for the Welsh Government in terms of perhaps facilitating, and a feasibility study would perhaps be the logical thing in terms of how you draw that together to tap the potential that exists as this sort of Roman town western frontier-type thinking. And then within our own museum, if you've been there, you'll know that in terms of its fabric and infrastructure there is work to do. So, that redevelopment would hopefully be part of a bigger plan on a more town or regional basis.

The comments go actually a bit further than that, though, don't they? I understand the point you're making in respect of funding, investment and the various other points you made, but the recommendation is that there should be a rationalisation of

'the fragmented management of its outstanding sites'. 

So there's clearly something they suggest there in terms of the organisational side. I wonder how you approach that particular comment.

There was a recommendation there that the management of both Cadw sites and ours should be given to the museum to manage overall. I think in some ways that the key thing is that we work together, and it doesn't necessarily matter quite so much what the management arrangements are directly on the ground. The key thing is the collaboration at every level, the strategic vision for Caerleon and the sharing of expertise. There is already an arrangement in the Caerleon area that the national museum provides the education services for all the sites there. That's something that was agreed several years ago, and Cadw were asking us if we would take that on because it just made more sense to have one organisation doing that. So, the principle is already established, but I really think it is for the Welsh Government and Cadw to decide how they would like to approach the recommendation of the Thurley review. As far as we're concerned, whichever way it goes, it shouldn't matter too much in terms of how we develop the whole interpretation there.

I think, as Neil is indicating, one of the key things is that there should be a big vision in this, and I think there's a great story to be told about the western frontier, which stretched all the way from Chester and the north of Wales right the way down through Caerleon and actually also down into south-west England as well. I think that the distinctive identity of that part of the Roman empire and the unity of issues that there were, if you like, at the time about how the local population was managed by the Romans, is something that we could interpret in a much more dynamic way. We're working with universities at the moment to look at research bids around that to feed into the interpretation, and all sorts of partnerships are emerging as a result of this.

10:25

We're living in a time when there seems to be renewed interest in frontiers, but what you're really saying is that you think that the ball is in the court of the Government now to actually take on these recommendations and to effectively take a decision as to how to bring together the organisations.

On one particular element of what Thurley was saying, which is to do with should the museum manage or not manage all of those sites there, as I say, I don't think we feel that this is something that should hold us back as an organisation in having the discussions with local partners, including Cadw and Visit Wales, about what interpretation should be done and, if we do go to funders, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, what we're going to try to do as part of that. We've already worked a lot, through the St Fagans project, on an activity plan that's had a lot of respect from the Heritage Lottery Fund and has been offered to other organisations as a model. We've developed experience and we're very happy to share that experience with the other partners in going forward. I'm personally not too hung up about the issue of do we manage it all or do we not manage it all.

Diolch yn fawr. Rwy'n troi at Neil Hamilton ar gyfer y set olaf o gwestiynau.

Thank you. I'll turn to Neil Hamilton for the last set of questions.

I'd just like to ask you a few questions about your relationship with the Welsh Government. Simon Thurley says that you're being held back by this relationship and that

'the Museum feels that it is not being listened to in terms of its funding requirements and that the Welsh Government is not clear about what a national museum is for',

which is rather a startling statement on the one hand, and that there's a

'feeling within the Welsh Government that the Museum is a "problem child"'

and that

'it lacks the competence to run itself effectively'.

You’d obviously disagree with that as a statement of fact, insofar as it is, but do you think that's the way that the Welsh Government sees you?

I think I'd have to say that the report is an independent report by Simon Thurley and it neither represents necessarily our views or those of the Welsh Government, I would assume. I would be disappointed if the views of the parties concerned were as difficult as that. I think one has to remember that he was gathering evidence a year ago as well. I personally feel that we've got a good relationship with the Welsh Government, and we've got a very good relationship, we feel, with the officials in the museums, archives and libraries division and the directorate there. We're very glad that the new Minister came and visited St Fagans and also other sites as well—Caerleon and Llanberis—and that we've got a very positive foundation for moving forward. So, as a representation of where we are now, I don't think that would be accurate, no.

A few months ago, when the proposal to bring together the commercial functions of a variety of bodies in the heritage sector emerged and you responded very vigorously to that, there seemed to be a degree of friction at that time. That's now been completely resolved, I presume, and you're not worried about independence or anything like that. One of the things that Thurley says, which I find quite startling again, is that examples were cited of

'inappropriate levels of political engagement in the Museum’s operational activity'.

As I say, that's his view there; it's not necessarily a representation of where we are—

Well, yes, and I think it's also that we do need to represent where we are with the Welsh Government as well and I think it's a very good and strong relationship now. I think that—

Can I just ask you what you think was meant by that statement about an inappropriate relationship between yourselves and Government?

It's very difficult to comment on somebody else's comments that are even more anonymous, by the look of it, as well. I think that the Historic Wales steering group, which put together the report last January, brought together the views of the Government as well as the heritage bodies as well as the trade unions. That was done pretty much just before, or was overlapping with, Simon Thurley's report. So, I would feel that the position on Historic Wales is a shared position, and I think we all agreed it and we've all supported it, including Ministers.

10:30

So, you're all working together very happily, and, as far as the museum is concerned, you're very happy with the relationships that you've developed there. 

I would absolutely say so, yes. And this is not me being sort of cautious or anything like that; I think that's genuinely my view on that.

Thurley also recommended that the Government and the museum should develop a shared 10-year vision for Amgueddfa Cymru, with a five-year focus and a three-year funding agreement. We've talked to the arts council about that this problem is created by this annual funding, so I'd presume that you would be in favour of having a more flexible funding arrangement with the Welsh Government.

Yes. I think having some degree of certainty over a longer period of time than one year is beneficial to any public body, really, particularly if you're trying to be strategic in your work. So, I think we would welcome that, but, obviously, it has to take place in the context of public finances for Wales and those, in turn, depend a lot on decisions that are made in Westminster as well.

I don't think it is, actually, no. I think that the museum has had a long-standing ambition to create a national gallery of art for Wales, a national museum of natural sciences, and there are obviously the feasibility studies that are going ahead at the moment around the proposed football museum and possible national gallery of contemporary art as well. I think that, if we're going to build our national institutions in Wales, we need to take long-term views as well as short-term ones.

Yes. Thank you.

Diolch yn fawr iawn a diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am ddod atom ni’r bore yma. Gobeithio y byddwch chi’n gwella o’r annwyd. Rydych chi wedi gallu aros efo ni, sydd yn ardderchog. Felly, diolch yn fawr.

Mi gymerwn ni doriad byr fel pwyllgor cyn symud ymlaen i’r sesiynau nesaf. Diolch.

Thank you very much and thank you for joining us this morning. I hope that you will feel better soon, but thank you for staying with us this morning. 

We will take a short break before moving on to the next sessions. Thank you.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:32 a 10:36.

The meeting adjourned between 10:32 and 10:36.

10:35
3. Radio yng Nghymru: Sesiwn dystiolaeth 1: Pwyllgor Cynghori Cymru Ofcom
3. Radio in Wales: Evidence Session 1: Ofcom Advisory Committee for Wales

Croeso nôl i ail hanner y pwyllgor heddiw, ac mi fyddwn ni'n trafod dwy sesiwn ynglŷn â radio yng Nghymru. Croeso cynnes iawn i Glyn Mathias a Hywel Wiliam atom ni'r bore yma, sy'n cynrychioli pwyllgor cynghori Cymru Ofcom. Rydym ni'n ceisio gweld sut mae newidiadau diweddar yn effeithio ar radio yn gyffredinol yng Nghymru, yn enwedig efallai'r dadreoleiddio. Cyn inni symud ymlaen, tybed a fedr un ohonoch chi egluro imi beth yn union mae'r dadreoleiddio yma yn ei olygu mewn gwirionedd.

Welcome back to this second part of the meeting today, and we've got two sessions with regard to radio in Wales. A warm welcome to Glyn Mathias and Hywel Wiliam, who are joining us this morning, representing the Ofcom advisory committee for Wales. We're trying to discover how recent changes have affected radio in Wales in general, especially, perhaps, the deregulation. Before we move on, I wonder whether one of you could explain to me exactly what this deregulation means.

That's a big question. [Laughter.] I shall try.

There's been a huge pressure for deregulation of commercial radio over a number of years. In fact, when I was on the licensing committee for Ofcom—I stopped being there about two years ago—there were constant demands to relax the rules around formats, in particular, so that radio stations could compete in the market as they saw fit. In fact, there was a general process of relaxation, and now the Government of the UK has more or less accepted the argument for the complete deregulation of commercial radio. Two principal reasons: first, the competition from the internet, which is totally unregulated, and you're going to think of Spotify and other streaming services of that kind that are competitors to commercial radio, and also, the digital platform, on which there is no positive regulation. There is negative regulation, in the sense that they must obey the law and obey the broadcasting code, et cetera, but there's no positive regulation. So, a declining proportion of the industry is actually regulated in the way that we are accustomed to. So, that is the pressure for deregulation. I think, as a committee, we accept the argument for the deregulation process to go one step further, but we think that the priority should be the maintenance of news obligations on the deregulated industry.

Felly, rydych chi'n cefnogi, yn gyffredinol, y syniad o ddadreoleiddio pellach erbyn hyn, felly, onid ydych chi? Pam eich bod chi'n cefnogi hynny?

So, you support, in general, this idea of further deregulation, do you? Why do you support that?

Forgive me, could you just say that again, sorry?

Rydym ni'n ei dderbyn e fel canlyniad i fel mae'r farchnad yn datblygu. Nid yw e'n gwestiwn o 'A ydym ni'n derbyn—?' Nid ydym ni o reidrwydd yn ei gefnogi fe, mae e'n fwy o fater o'n bod ni jest yn derbyn mai dyma fel mae'r farchnad yn datblygu. Mae'n bwysig nodi, wrth gwrs, nad yw radio masnachol yn derbyn unrhyw arian cyhoeddus. So, beth bynnag maen nhw'n ei ddarparu, maen nhw'n ei wneud e ar sail fasnachol, ac mae hynny'n rhywbeth yr ydym ni yn gorfod ei dderbyn. Yn enwedig yn y maes, er enghraifft, o gerddoriaeth—dewis o gerddoriaeth, ystod o gerddoriaeth, nid ŷm ni'n gweld unrhyw werth mewn gwirionedd i dreial rheoleiddio hynny mewn ffordd; mae'n well gadael e i'r farchnad agored i benderfynu beth sydd ar alw a beth fyddai pobl am wrando arno fe.

We accept it as a result of the way the market is developing. It's not necessarily that we support it, it's that we accept that that's the way that the market is developing. It's important to note, of course, that commercial radio doesn't receive any public funding. So, whatever they provide, they do it on a commercial basis, and that is something that we have to accept. And particularly in the field of music—the range of music available, we don't see any real value in trying to regulate that; it's better to let the open market decide what's available and what people want to listen to.

10:40

Ond, mewn byd delfrydol, a fyddech chi'n hoffi cadw'r sefyllfa o reoleiddio mwy grymus?

But, in an ideal world, would you like to maintain the more robust regulatory framework in the sector?

Beth rŷm ni'n credu sy'n bwysig yw newyddion ar gyfer lleoliadau yng Nghymru, a newyddion ar gyfer Cymru, wrth gwrs. Dyna'r flaenoriaeth i ni.

What we believe is important is news for areas of Wales and for Wales, and that's a priority for us.

Because we suffer, as you know—an argument that's been well rehearsed—of a lack of plurality of news sources, of news information, in Wales. This is a well-rehearsed argument, with which we're all familiar. And commercial radio does, to some extent, form an important extra source of news and information in Wales. And the UK Government, in its response to consultation—the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport—has suggested that news should be retained in terms of commercial radio stations on the digital platform, as well as the analogue platform. On the digital platform, there is currently no regulation, no demand or obligation for news, but this would be a positive development in the sense that, on digital platforms, if this went through, there would now be an obligation to provide news on digital platforms.

Our complaint against the DCMS response is that they pay absolutely no attention to all-Wales news, that the legislation as it exists refers only to UK national news and local news, whereas, in Wales, as we know, there is a demand for, and an increasing need for, all-Wales news, Welsh news, and we believe that that should be an obligation in Wales, something which they have dismissed. And they dismissed our previous evidence to that effect. And we believe that that is absolutely vital.

Ddown ni yn ôl at hynny mewn dau funud, ond cyn i ni fynd at y maes penodol yna felly, jest rhywbeth cyffredinol arall mewn ffordd. Mae refeniw masnachol isel yng Nghymru, onid oes, yn sgil radio masnachol. Beth ydy effaith hynny?

We'll return to that issue, but, before we turn to that particular area, just another general question. There's low commercial revenue in Wales, isn't there, from commercial radio provision. What's the effect of that?

Mae hynny, wrth gwrs, yn wir, ond mae'n werth hefyd gofio bod cyrhaeddiad rhan o'r gynulleidfa radio ar gyfer radio masnachol yng Nghymru yn dal yn bwysig iawn. Mae dros ddwbwl o ran cyfran o'i gymharu â gwasnaethau'r BBC, er enghraifft. So, mae adroddiad diweddaraf marchnad cyfathrebu Ofcom yn dangos bod cyfran o 26 y cant yn gwrando ar radio masnachol o'i gymharu â rhywbeth fel 18 y cant—sori, 8 y cant—ar gyfer gwasanaethau'r BBC. So, mae cyrhaeddiad yn bwysig.

That is true, of course, but it's also worth bearing in mind that the reach in terms of the audience for commercial radio in Wales is still very important. It's over double in terms of the numbers achieved by the BBC, for example. So, the recent report by Ofcom shows that 26 per cent listen to commercial radio as opposed to 8 per cent for BBC services. So, reach is very important.

Ond mae'n dal yn is na'r hyn sydd yn digwydd mewn cenhedloedd eraill.

But it's still lower than what happens in other parts.

Ydy. Mae'r incwm masnachol yn is, ond beth sy'n bwysig i ni, rwy'n credu, yw cyrhaeddiad y cyfrwng a'r ffordd mae hwnnw yn gallu dylanwadu felly ar ddinasyddiaeth ac ar ddemocratiaeth, a'r pwysigrwydd o allu derbyn newyddion felly ar y cyfrwng yna.

Yes, the commercial income is lower, but what we think is important is reach, and how that can have an influence on citizenship and democracy, and the importance of providing news on those media.

Iawn. Ddof i â Mick i mewn i drafod mwy ar y syniad o newyddion.

Okay. I'll bring Mick in to discuss this idea of news.

You started on the generational issue of the content of all-Wales news, which has been around for a long, long time. But, obviously, you're very unhappy, you're very critical of the approach of the UK Government and the failure in that area—BBC, from commercial radio opportunities. What are the opportunities you see happening? What needs to be done? What should be done? What can realistically be achieved, bearing in mind the positions that have already been adopted?

Given that the legislative requirement isn't there for Welsh news at the moment, or Wales news, the DCMS is planning fresh legislation in the next couple of years or so to impose the extra obligation on digital platforms of a news requirement. And, in that process, we regard this as a golden opportunity to amend the legislation, so that, in Wales, and in Scotland and Northern Ireland for that matter, there should be a reference to Welsh news as an ingredient of that obligation. That does not exist at the moment. It does appear in some of the formats for commercial radio stations, but it's not there in the legislation, and here is a chance for it to be included.

And who should actually pursue that argument? Is it a Welsh Government argument that should be pursued, or are there other sources?

I think the Welsh Government could very usefully pursue that argument, but I think this committee could also pursue it and make representations to the DCMS.

10:45

The arguments were lost previously. It wasn't accepted. Could you just say, because I'm a bit confused by it, what was the logic to the lack of understanding of that and not accepting it?

There is no comprehension in London of the concept of Welsh news. They still have this mindset that says, 'UK national and local'. And, to the extent that it was raised in the consultation—it was a very narrow consultation, in my view, but, to the extent that it was raised in the consultation, it was dismissed on the grounds that it would be an extra regulatory burden that would disadvantage stations in Wales. My view is that to include an item or two of Welsh all-Wales news in a bulletin is not exactly a heavy regulatory burden.

It's the same criticism that's made in respect of other media, though, isn't it, that there's this sort of London-centric based concept of news. But, in terms of making real change, the pressure's got to come from Wales, it's got to come from, to begin with, Welsh Government, and it's got to basically result in a significant culture change in the way the Government concedes these.

I would agree entirely with you, and I can only emphasise that we do have a window of opportunity here to make this point to the DCMS, so that they can include it in the forthcoming legislation.

To pursue, yes. Can you just explain that about the two items within a bulletin, or whatever? Is that all that would be needed?

Wel, os ydych chi'n edrych ar fel mae'r bwletinau'n gweithio, yn naturiol, maen nhw'n mynd i gynnwys newyddion lleol, ond, ar hyn o bryd, yn ôl y fformatiau sy'n berthnasol i wasanaethau radio, maen nhw'n gorfod cynnal cyfran o newyddion ar gyfer y Deyrnas Unedig, rhai straeon rhyngwladol a hefyd, wrth gwrs, newyddion ar gyfer Cymru gyfan, felly.

Er nid yw, fel rydw i'n ei ddweud, yn rhan o’r ddeddfwriaeth, yn ddelfrydol, felly, byddech chi’n disgwyl mewn bwletin bod yna gymysgedd o straeon a oedd yn berthnasol i’r meysydd yna i gyd, yn enwedig, yn ein barn ni, newyddion ar gyfer Cymru gyfan, yn ogystal â newyddion lleol, felly. So, efallai y byddech chi’n cael—er enghraifft, yng Nghaerdydd, bydd yr orsaf radio efallai’n rhedeg stori neu ddwy am y ddinas, ac wedyn efallai bydd yna stori berthnasol am Gymru gyfan, ac wedyn efallai rhywbeth mwy perthnasol ar gyfer y Deyrnas Unedig, felly.

Well, if you look at how the bulletins work, naturally, they're going to include local news, but, at the moment, according to the formats relevant to these radio services, they have to maintain a percentage of their news for the UK, some international stories, and then some all-Wales news provision.

Although it's not, as I say, included in legislation, ideally, you would hope that, in a bulletin, there would be a mix of stories relevant to all of those areas, particularly, in our view, the all-Wales news as well as the local news. So, in Cardiff, a Cardiff radio station may run a few stories on the city itself, then there may be an all-Wales story and then there would be something that would be more relevant internationally or in the UK.

Mewn termau ymarferol, sut y byddai hynny'n digwydd? Sut y byddai—?

In practical terms, how would that happen? How would—?

Mae'n rhaid iddyn nhw ddarlledu bwletin newyddion o leiaf pob awr, a byddwn ni'n disgwyl gweld hynny. Hefyd, ar hyn o bryd, mae angen saith awr y dydd o gynnwys sy’n dod yn lleol, felly, o’r orsaf. Mae gweddill y cynnwys wedyn yn gallu cael ei rwydweithio ar draws y rhwydwaith, felly.

They have to broadcast a news bulletin at least hourly and we would expect to see that happening. At the moment, there is a requirement for seven hours per day in terms of local content from the station itself. The rest can be networked.

Mi fyddai gofyniad i’r orsaf ei hun ddarparu newyddion Cymru gyfan.

There’d be a requirement for the station itself to provide the all-Wales news.

Maen nhw’n gallu—. Mae lan iddyn nhw sut maen nhw’n dewis gwneud hynny. Mae yna lot o ffyrdd o ddarparu newyddion, ac maen nhw’n gweithio gydag asiantaethau, wrth gwrs. Mae hwnnw’n fater iddyn nhw.

They can—. It’s up to them how they choose to do that. There are a number of ways of providing news, and they do work with agencies, of course. But that’s an issue for them.

Could I just add that there’s a particular issue around where the news is produced? Because the DCMS response to the consultation is extremely vague on the point of where the news should be produced. Our view is that Welsh news should be produced in Wales. We know the complications of Welsh news being produced from London, because they don’t understand devolution—many, many cases of this that we could recite. And so it’s absolutely vital that there is a requirement that Welsh news is made and produced in Wales.

Mae yna berygl mwy eang, hefyd, os ydych chi’n meddwl amdano fe, o ran cael newyddiadurwyr proffesiynol yn gweithio yn y maes newyddiaduraeth yng Nghymru. Mae llai a llai o’r rheini heddiw yn bodoli; mae yna fwy o bobl yn gweithio yn y maes PR erbyn hyn yng Nghymru nac sydd mewn newyddiaduriaeth. Felly, eto, fel egwyddor, byddwn ni’n moyn gweld newyddiadurwyr yn cael eu talu ac yn gweithio yng Nghymru i ddarparu newyddion Cymru.

There is a broader risk too, if you think of professional journalists working in journalism in Wales. There are fewer of those available today; there are more people working in PR now in Wales than are working in journalism. So, again, as a principle, we would want to see journalists being paid and working in Wales to provide Welsh news.

Pa mor ymarferol ydy hi bod hynny’n mynd i ddigwydd?

How practicable is it that that will happen?

Wel, ar hyn o bryd, mae’n hollol ymarferol. Mae gan y darparwyr eu canolfannau newyddion nhw yng Nghymru ac maen nhw yn gweithio mewn timoedd i ddarparu’r gwasanaeth.

Well, at the moment, it’s entirely practicable. The providers have their news centres in Wales and they do work as teams to provide those services.

If you accept the case for deregulation, then surely there's nothing you can do about news simply descending into PR and opportunities for promoting media stars—you know, the trivialisation of news. You'll not be available to supervise it, will you?

Well, to some extent, I understand your argument, but there is a—. The UK Government position is that there will be a requirement for news on commercial radio, on digital as well as analogue platforms, and all we're arguing here is that, in Wales, there should be an element of all-Welsh news in that obligation. That's what we're saying.

But 'news' can be interpreted as anything. It can be, obviously, important information that people need to inform them and educate them, but it can just be trivia.

10:50

Mae natur y rheoleiddio yn golygu bod dim pwerau gyda ni i sôn am ansawdd yn y ffordd yna. Hynny yw, rwy'n credu ein bod ni'n gorfod jest ei fesur e o safbwynt ffeithiol—hwn yw natur y rheoleiddio a natur pwerau Ofcom, a dweud y gwir.

The nature of the regulation means that we have no real power to talk of quality in those terms. I think we just have to mesure it from a factual point of view. That's the nature of the regulation and the nature of the powers of Ofcom.

Okay. So, in the future, it could simply just be an opportunity for product placement.

Mae hwnnw'n bwynt da. Mae'r steil ac fel y mae radio'n gweithio yn mynd i fod i lawr i'r darparwyr, ond rwy'n credu efallai mai'r gwrandawyr yn y diwedd fydd yn penderfynu. Os rŷch chi'n cymryd gwasanaeth a'i stwffio fe gyda chymaint o gynnwys masnachol, mae jest yn mynd i'r pwynt lle mae pobl yn ffaelu gwrando arno fe—maen nhw jest yn mynd i ffwrdd. Rwy'n credu bod yna alw—mae'r dystiolaeth yn dangos bod yna alw ymysg y cyhoedd am wasanaeth call o ran darpariaeth newyddion a gwybodaeth. Mae hwnnw'n eithaf creiddiol rwy'n credu i natur radio masnachol.

That's a very good point. The style and the way radio works is going to be down to the providers, but I think that the audience will ultimately decide. If you maintain a service and stuff it with as much commercial content as possible, then it's going to get to the point where people just won't listen. I think that there is demand—and evidence shows that there is a demand among the public for a proper service in terms of news provision and information provision and I think that's quite central to the nature of commercial radio.

Rydych yn sôn fod yna dystiolaeth i ddangos fod y gwrandawyr eisiau newyddion. Ym mhle fedrwn ni gael gafael ar y dystiolaeth yna?

You say that there is evidence to show that the listeners want news. Where can we get a hold of that evidence?

Mae'r dystiolaeth yn cael ei chasglu can Ofcom, wrth gwrs, ac rwy'n credu hefyd gan y DCMS yn eu hymgynghoriad nhw. Maen nhw'n sôn am, er enghraifft, weithdai wnaethon nhw gynnal ar draws y Deyrnas Unedig yn trafod y cwestiynau yma gyda'r diwydiant.

The evidence is gathered by Ofcom, and the DCMS in their consultation too. They held workshops, for example, across the UK discussing these issues with the industry.

A oes yna unrhyw ymchwil wedi cael ei wneud i faint o newyddion o Gymru y mae gwrandawyr yng Nghymru yn dymuno ei gael?

Has any research been undertaken into how much news from Wales listeners in Wales want to receive?

Allaf i ddim siarad ar ran Ofcom yn uniongyrchol, ond mae lot o wybodaeth yn y gwaith y mae Ofcom yn ei wneud trwy, er enghraifft, y farchnad cyfathrebiadau ac astudiaethau eraill, er enghraifft, llythrennedd cyfryngol ac agweddau pobl tuag at a defnydd o'r cyfryngau.

I can't speak directly on behalf of Ofcom, but there's a great deal of information in the work that Ofcom has carried out through the communications market report and other studies, such as media literacy and people's attitudes to and use of the media.

And the BBC has carried out a lot of research as well in this area.

Byddai'n ddefnyddiol iawn i'r pwyllgor gael unrhyw fath o dystiolaeth ar gyfer ein hymchwiliad ni, rydw i'n meddwl, ar y meysydd yna yn benodol.

It would be very useful for the committee to receive any evidence for our inquiry, I think, on those particular issues.

It concerns me that we're embarking on a race to the bottom here. I noted the BBC audience comments on the problems that Radio Wales were having, that people were complaining about the amount of voice programmes on Radio Wales—Radio Cymru—so that's why they've set up this second station, which is dedicated to music. I think unless there's some obligation to have a mixture—. We already have a major problem of people's poor understanding of the way in which Wales is governed, and it would appear that we are in danger of just making the problem even worse.

I entirely sympathise with your argument and I might well agree with you, but—

—we have to be practical in what can be achieved given the present industrial climate around commercial radio and what the UK Government's position is. We cannot invent a world that the UK Government is not prepared to agree with.

Can I just clarify my understanding of your evidence? There is evidence that Ofcom has gathered that shows there is a demand. It is the view of the committee that there should be changes, but the prevailing mood of light-touch regulation within Ofcom is actually what wins the day.

The regulation that Ofcom applies is based on legislation. If the legislation does not provide for something, Ofcom cannot regulate it. At the moment, there is no regulation in relation to news of Wales—there's no legislation relating to it. So, Ofcom cannot oblige commercial radio stations to implement something that is not in the legislation. I'm not sure if that's answered your question or not.

But there are other areas where there is legislation, where Ofcom's advisory committee for Wales— in terms of the BBC's news provision, for example, you made a very clear recommendation and the operating licence was not changed to reflect that. So, that's not a matter of legislation constraining; that's a matter of will within Ofcom to take action.

You're referring to Ofcom's operating licence in relation to the BBC—

—which is an entirely different kettle of fish.

It's an entirely different kettle of fish.

Well, it's not a different kettle of fish, in terms of you're saying that it's the legislation that's constraining Ofcom and I'm arguing, giving this different example, that it's actually Ofcom's willingness to challenge.

Rŷm ni'n sôn am ddeddfwriaeth sy'n berthnasol i radio masnachol—

We're talking about legislation pertinent to commercial radio—

I understand that, and I'm talking about the operating principle within Ofcom of light-touch regulation. I'm using a different example to argue your point, and my contention, which I'm asking you to engage with, is that, actually, the issue here is that the guiding principle of light-touch regulation that Ofcom was set up with still holds sway. And of course there's a legislative environment, but, actually, that philosophy is part of your problem here. 

10:55

No. Different regulation applies to the BBC than it does to commercial radio, and that's based on legislation. The legislation affecting Ofcom's regulation of the BBC is entirely separate from the legislation affecting commercial radio. 

And so Ofcom's powers of regulation are based entirely on the relevant legislation, and it's different for the BBC.

Mae'n bwysig cofio fan hyn hefyd beth sy'n gyrru'r polisi, wrth gwrs, yw gwaith y Llywodraeth yn DCMS—nhw sydd, yn y cyd-destun yma, y tro hyn, yn gwneud yr ymgynghori ac sy’n gosod y syniadau polisi. Felly, mewn ffordd, atyn nhw y mae’r cwestiwn yn codi.

It's important to bear in mind here that what drives the policy, of course, is the work of the DCMS in Government—in this context, they are carrying out the consultation and putting the policy ideas in place. So, in a way, these questions should be referred to them.

Wel, mae'r rhain yn gwestiynau y gallwn ni eu codi efo pobl eraill, rwy'n siŵr, wrth symud ymlaen â'r ymchwiliad yma. 

Well, these are questions that we can raise with other witnesses, I'm sure, as we go through this inquiry.

Just one point—the point you're making, though, is that you see a very narrow window of opportunity to make a significant change that can alter the framework within which Ofcom works, and, if we miss that opportunity, or we don't achieve a change in that opportunity, other progress is going to be quite difficult.

Gwd. Troi rŵan at radio cymunedol, a Neil. 

Good. We turn now to community radio, and Neil has some questions.

Suzy Davies had to leave temporarily, so I have the responsibility of asking questions on her behalf. I'd like to ask you, first of all: how sustainable do you think commercial radio is in Wales financially? And I'd like to go on from there to talk about community radio on the same wavelength, as it were.

Yr ateb, ryw'n credu, yw 'mwy nag oedd e yn y gorffennol', achos mae yna newidiadau polisi, eto, fel mae'n digwydd, trwy ymgynghoriad a wnaeth y DCMS, lle mae newidiadau wedi digwydd, ac un o'r prif rai wnaeth effeithio yn enwedig ar orsafoedd yng ngogledd Cymru oedd y gallu i godi arian masnachol yn ogystal â derbyn arian cyhoeddus a dibynnu ar wirfoddolwyr. Felly, yn achos nifer o orsafoedd yn y gogledd am y tro cyntaf, o dan yr hen drefn, nid oedden nhw'n gallu hysbysebu na chynnal unrhyw arian masnachol, ond nawr, o leiaf, maen nhw'n gallu godi £15,000 o incwm sylfaenol ac wedyn, o hynny ymlaen, maen nhw'n gallu codi rhagor o incwm masnachol, dim ond ei fod e'n cael ei gydbwyso yn erbyn incwm cyhoeddus a hefyd oriau gwirfoddoli.

So, mae'n newyddion da, ac roedd yr astudiaeth yn dangos bod honno'n lefel lle oedd y rhan fwyaf o'r gorsafoedd yn gallu cynnal a chadw eu hunain. Maen nhw yn amrywio lot, wrth gwrs, ond, ar y cyfan, fel egwyddor, roedd hwnnw wedi helpu lot gyda eu gallu i fod yn cynnal gwasanaethau, felly. 

The answer is 'more sustainable than it was in the past', because there have been policy changes, again through a DCMS consultation, where changes have been put in place, and one of the main ones that affected particularly stations in north Wales was the ability to raise commercial funds in addition to receiving public funds and relying on volunteers. So, in the case of a number of north Wales stations, under the old system, they couldn't advertise or take any commercial income, but now they can raise £15,000 in basic income and, from there on in, they can generate further commercial income, as long as it's balanced against the public funds and the volunteer hours provided.

So, it's good news, and the study did demonstrate that that was a level where most of the stations could maintain themselves. They do vary, of course, but, generally, as a principle, that was of great assistance in terms of providing sustainability.

And, of course, community radio is limited in its capacity to fund itself from commercial operations. But, if we want to encourage greater multiplicity of platforms and variety of local news in particular, to go back to questions that Jenny was asking earlier on, is it sensible in the longer term to retain restrictions on community radio in this respect?

Mae yn fater o gydbwysedd. Mae’n rhaid gwneud yn siŵr bod radio cymunedol yn gallu parhau a datblygu, ond, ar y llaw arall, nad yw'n goreffeithio ar allu radio masnachol i weithredu mewn amgylchfyd cystadleuol, masnachol, anodd. Felly, mae’n bwysig cael y cydbwysedd yna yn iawn.

Rwy’n teimlo mai’r polisi nawr, a dweud y gwir, llawer yn decach, efallai, ar radio cymunedol, ac mae’n rhoi’r cyfle i’r sector ddatblygu, ond mewn ffordd, fel yr oeddwn i’n dweud, sydd ddim yn gor-danseilio neu oreffeithio ar allu radio masnachol i weithredu, sydd felly, rwy’n teimlo, yn sefyllfa deg. Ac rwy’n credu bod yna gyfle, felly, i radio cymunedol allu helpu gyda darparu elfennau o newyddion lleol a helpu gyda dinasyddiaeth, er enghraifft, mewn ffyrdd efallai a fyddai’n llai posibl i radio masnachol, oherwydd y ffordd y mae’n gweithio.

It's an issue of balance. We must ensure that community radio can survive and develop, but, on the other hand, that it doesn't have too much of an impact on the ability of commercial radio to work in a difficult commercial environment. So, it's important that you strike that right balance.

I think that the policy as it stands is far fairer for community services, and it gives the sector an opportunity to develop, but in a way that doesn't overly undermine the ability of commercial radio to operate. So, I feel that the situation is fair. I think that there's an opportunity there for community radio to assist in providing elements of local news and to help with citizenship, for example, in a way that would not perhaps be as possible for commercial radio, because of the way it works.

The Government did have a fund that gave out £100,000 a year to community radio at one time, just to kick-start the sector, I suppose. Do you think that it's gone beyond that stage now and doesn't need that anymore?

Wel, roedd yna ddwy ffynhonnell, ac mae un yn dal i fodoli, wrth gwrs. Mae Ofcom, wrth gwrs, hefyd yn rhedeg cronfa ar gyfer radio cymunedol. Ond, wrth gwrs, mae'n rhaid i honno fod ar agor i holl orsafoedd ar draws y Deyrnas Unedig, dros 200 ohonyn nhw erbyn hyn. Felly, bydd lot fawr o gystadleuaeth am swm weddol fach o arian. Beth oedd yn wych amboutu cynllun Llywodraeth Cymru ar y pryd oedd ei fod wedi'i gyfyngu i Gymru ac felly wedi'i gyfyngu i'r naw neu 10 orsaf oedd ar yr awyr ar y pryd. Roedd hynny'n gwneud lot o synnwyr o safbwynt tegwch i'r sector, ac yn sicr roedd o gymorth mawr. Roedd wedi helpu o ran gallu cyflogi staff dros dro i helpu gyda gwella'r ochr o godi incwm ar gyfer gorsafoedd—cynnig am grantiau ac yn y blaen. Byddai'r math hwnnw o beth wedi bod yn lot o help. Yn siarad o safbwynt personol, rwy'n siŵr y byddai'r sector yn croesawu'r cyfle hwnnw eto pe bai'n digwydd felly.

Well, there were two sources, and one still exists, of course. Ofcom, of course, also has a fund for community radio. But that, of course, is open to all stations across the UK, over 200 of them. So, there'll be huge competition for a relatively small amount of money. What was excellent about the Welsh Government's programme at the time was that it was restricted to Wales and restricted to the nine or 10 stations broadcasting at that time. That made a great deal of sense in terms of fairness to the sector and certainly it was of great assistance. It assisted in allowing the employment of temporary staff to make improvements in terms of income generation and grants and so on. So, that was of great assistance. Speaking from a personal point of view, I'm sure the sector would welcome such a development if it were to reoccur.

11:00

Well, the sector has been developing. You recently licensed two more community radio stations. Do you think there will be more in the pipeline as well? Is this a sign of good health in this sector?

It is a very healthy sector. What happens is that Ofcom has a sort of cycle of applications for licences on a regional basis, and they come back to a particular region on a sort of circular basis.

Y tro hwn, gyda'r cyfnod yma o drwyddedu, gwnaeth Ofcom dderbyn o amgylch saith datganiad o ddiddordeb mewn datblygu gwasanaethau cymunedol o amgylch Cymru. Felly, mae hwnnw'n arwydd da, rwy'n credu, ac mae'n dangos y lefel o ddiddordeb.

This time, with this period of licensing, Ofcom received around seven declarations of interest in developing community services around Wales. So, that's a good sign, I think, and it shows the level of interest.

Can I ask you also about proposals to allow Ofcom to license small-scale DAB in Wales as well?

Mae hwn yn ddiddorol iawn achos mae lot wedi poeni nad oes ffordd i radio cymunedol, sy'n cael ei ddarlledu gan amlaf ar VHF ac FM, ddatblygu mewn i radio digidol DAB. Fel mae'n sefyll, o ran y gyfundrefn DAB o drwyddedu ar gyfer amlblethiadau, naill ar lefel rhanbarthol neu ar lefel ar draws y Deyrnas Unedig, mae'r costau o weithredu hynny ar gyfer radio cymunedol yn rhy uchel. Mae yna broblemau eraill hefyd ynglŷn â'r ffaith nad yw'r ffyrdd o drwyddedu'n gweithio ar gyfer y sector cymunedol. Felly, gwnaeth Ofcom waith ddwy flynedd yn ôl—gwaith ymchwil—lle y gwnaethon nhw redeg nifer o orsafoedd gan ddefnyddio technoleg newydd a oedd yn gweithio ar ardaloedd llawer mwy cyfyng na'r ardaloedd DAB presennol, a oedd yn defnyddio technoleg rhad a meddalwedd lot rhatach. Fe wnaethon nhw brofi bod modd darlledu gwasanaethau DAB mewn lleoliadau, ac y byddai hwnnw'n fodel llawer mwy addas ar gyfer radio cymunedol a hefyd gorsafoedd radio masnachol bach.

Felly, roedd hwnnw'n llwyddiant mawr. Oddi ar hynny, mae DCMS wedi pasio deddfwriaeth ychwanegol i ganiatáu ffyrdd newydd o drwyddedu. Maen nhw'n awr yn bwriadu symud ymlaen i gydweithio ag Ofcom i ddatblygu trwyddedau newydd o ran plethiadau lleol, a hefyd trwyddedau ar gyfer y plethiad, i ddatblygu hwn fel ffordd o gael radio cymunedol i fynd ar DAB, a hynny yn y flwyddyn neu ddwy nesaf. Yn anffodus, o ran y treialon a wnaeth ddigwydd, nid oedd un ohonynt wedi cael ei gynnal yng Nghymru, fel mae'n digwydd. Ond, treialon technegol oedden nhw, mewn gwirionedd, a oedd yn dangos bod yr egwyddor yn gweithio. Dyna oedd y peth pwysig.

This is very interesting because there's been a great deal of concern that there is no way for community radio, which is often broadcast on VHF and FM, to develop into DAB radio. As it stands, the DAB licensing regime for multiplexes, either on a regional level or on a UK level, the costs of implementing that for community radio are too high. There are other problems relating to the fact that the licensing methods don't really work for the community sector in that regard. So, Ofcom did some work two years ago—research—where they ran a number of stations using new technology that worked on far more restricted areas than the current DAB areas, which used cheaper technology and far cheaper software. They demonstrated that it was possible to broadcast in DAB in those areas, and that would be a much more appropriate model for community radio and also small commercial radio stations.

So, that was a major success. Since then, DCMS has passed additional legislation to allow new ways of licensing. They now intend to move forward to collaborate with Ofcom to develop new licences with regard to local multiplexes, and licences for the multiplex, to develop that as a way of getting community radio on DAB in the next year or two. Unfortunately, none of the trials that took place were held in Wales, but they were just trying out the technology just to show that the principle was the correct one. That was the important thing.

Just a couple of short points. GTFM is in my constituency and seems to be very well received by the community. It actually provides a very real additional local service. It just seems to me that the cards are almost stacked against it. Whereas we see various services as having to be supported by public funding because they are a service, there seems to be the impression that community radio is being left to wither a bit without the same recognition. So, firstly, what is your view in terms of the actual recognition of the importance of community radio? That is something that's important in terms of how it might be perceived with regard to funding. 

The second point, then: in terms of the funding you referred to—the Ofcom funding that you say is dealt with on a UK basis—it would be really helpful to see how that funding has been used and how it has been distributed across the UK, so that we can see how Wales fares within that. This is an area where I have real concerns. I'm very interested in what you say about the potential licensing changes and so on. But, my concern is that community radio is always on the brink—or is continually on the brink—of survival. Your views are really quite important—

I suggest you ask Ofcom for the latter part of the information you require, about how they distributed funds. I'm sure they have the detail themselves. We don't have that detail.

Mae ar y wefan, ac maen nhw'n gwneud adroddiad blynyddol ar y defnydd. O ran pwysigrwydd a datblygiad radio cymunedol, byddwn i'n dadlau bod pethau fel creu cyfle i radio cymunedol i symud o FM i DAB yn arwydd ei fod yn cael ei gymryd o ddifrif fel sector pwysig ac fel sector a ddylai gael y siawns i ddatblygu. Wrth gwrs, mae radio cymunedol hefyd yn—. Ar y cyfan, mae'r gorsafoedd i gyd â phresenoldeb ar y we, so maen nhw hefyd yn darlledu ar y rhyngrwyd, ac y mae rhai ohonyn nhw wedi datblygu apiau, er enghraifft, er mwyn gwneud hyn yn rhwyddach. Felly, mae yna eithaf lot o ffyrdd yn barod o wrando ar radio cymunedol.

Rhan o'r cyfaddawd presennol oedd bod radio cymunedol ond yn gallu darlledu i rywbeth fel 5 km o'r lleoliad. Eto, roedd hyn yn fwriadol er mwyn sicrhau nad oedd yn gor-gystadlu yn erbyn radio masnachol, ond mae'n ddiddorol edrych ar, er enghraifft, bolisïau technegol Ofcom, sydd wedi newid yn y maes yma yn ddiweddar. Mae Ofcom nawr yn cydnabod bod yn rhaid, weithiau, i orsafoedd cymunedol, yn enwedig mewn ardaloedd gwledig, allu cyrraedd ardaloedd llawer yn fwy na 5 km. Felly, mae'r cynllun technegol presennol newydd yn mynd i ganiatáu hyn. Rwy'n credu bod hynny'n arwydd, felly, yn fy marn i, fod yr agwedd i dreial gwneud bywyd yn rhwyddach i radio cymunedol yn un cryf iawn.

Rydw i yn derbyn, fodd bynnag, ei bod yn sialens fawr. Mae lot o ddibyniaeth ar wirfoddolwyr. Mae nifer staff parhaol radio cymunedol, yn fwriadol, yn fach iawn—efallai dim mwy na dau neu dri unigolyn. Maen nhw'n wynebu lot o sialensau. Hefyd, mae'r sialens barhaol ganddyn nhw o orfod gwneud ceisiadau am arian cyhoeddus. Mae hwnnw yn ei hunan yn waith llawn-amser—jest gwneud y gwaith papur, chi'n gwybod. Nid yw'n rhwydd, ond gan ystyried hynny, rwy'n credu bod y sector yn gwneud yn arbennig o dda i gario ymlaen, a hefyd cyrraedd y gynulleidfa yna mewn ffordd na fyddai radio masnachol yn gallu ei wneud, mewn ffordd unigryw.

It's on the website, and they produce an annual report on the usage. In terms of the importance and development of community radio, I would argue that things such as giving community radio an opportunity to move from FM to DAB is a sign that it is being taken seriously as an important sector and a sector that should have an opportunity to develop. Of course, community radio also—. On the whole, the stations have an online presence, so they're also broadcast online, and some have developed apps to facilitate this. So, there are many ways of listening to community radio.

Part of the current compromise was that community radio could only broadcast to a range of some 5 km. Again, that was intentional in order to ensure that it wasn't competing too much with commercial radio, but it's interesting to look, for example, at Ofcom's technical policies, which have changed in this area recently. Ofcom now recognises that, on occasion, community stations, particularly in rural areas, do have to have a far broader reach than that 5 km limit. So, the current technical plan is going to allow for that to happen. I think that's a sign, in my view, that there is a desire to make life easier for community radio, and that's a strong desire now.

I do accept, however, that it is now a challenge. There's a great deal of reliance on volunteers. The number of permanent staff at community radio is deliberately very small—two or three individuals. They face huge challenges. Then, there is an ongoing challenge of having to make applications for public funding. That, in and of itself, is a full-time job, just doing the paperwork. So, it's not easy, but bearing all that in mind, I think the sector is doing particularly well, and also to reach that audience in a way that commercial radio couldn't do. It's unique in that sense.

11:05

Diolch yn fawr. Gwnawn ni droi rŵan at radio'r BBC yng Nghymru. Rydym wedi cyffwrdd â hwn yn barod, ond rydw i'n siŵr bod gan Lee fwy o gwestiynau penodol am y BBC.

Thank you very much. We'll turn now to BBC radio in Wales. We've touched on this already, and I'm sure that Lee has more specific questions on the BBC.

Thank you. I'm struck by the figures that show that the BBC has the highest reach in Wales—higher than in other parts of the UK.

You're talking about radio.

Radio, sorry, yes. But that local commercial radio stations in Wales have the lowest reach across the UK. Why do you think that might be?

The stations with the biggest audience in Wales, in terms of radio, are BBC Radio 2, followed by BBC Radio 1, and these are UK-wide stations, and not local stations. I'm not going to answer the question as to why because I don't know, but I will make a point, which it gives me an opportunity to make, which is that there was a proposal at one stage last year to have radio news opt-outs on BBC Radio 2—in other words, Welsh opt-outs carrying Welsh news on Radio 2—because of the dominance of Radio 2 in Wales. There was a cost attached to this in terms of technicalities and journalists, and I haven't heard what has happened to it—this particular proposal—but I thought it was a very valuable proposal when it was being touted, and I'd be fascinated to know what has happened to it.

That's an interesting side issue. It's not the issue I asked about. [Laughter.]

It was a good answer, though.

It's an interesting separate point. I just wonder, Hywel, if you have any—. You may not know, but I just wonder if you have an educated guess why that might be.

Wel, mae'r pwynt wedi'i wneud yn ein papur ni, er enghraifft, fod cyrhaeddiad radio masnachol yng Nghymru lawer yn uwch na chyrhaeddiad gwasanaethau y BBC ar gyfer Cymru. Fel y mae Glyn yn ei ddweud, nid oes gennym atebion ar gyfer hynny, o reidrwydd, ond mae e'n gwestiwn pwysig o safbwynt dinasyddiaeth ac o safbwynt newyddion am Gymru o ran y defnydd o wasanaethau y BBC. Mae'n bwysig cofio mai—. Mewn ffordd, gallech chi ddadlau mai'r BBC yw'r unig gorff sy'n darparu newyddion cynhwysfawr o unrhyw ddyfnder, mewn ffordd, ar gyfer Cymru. So, mae e'n bwysig iawn i ni.

Well, the point is made in our paper that the reach of commercial radio in Wales is far greater than the reach of the BBC services for Wales. But as Glyn says, we don't have any answers in this area, but it's an important question in terms of citizenship and news from Wales in terms of the use of services and BBC services in particular. It's important, and you could argue, in a way, that the BBC is the only organisation providing comprehensive news of any depth about Wales. So, it's very important.

Okay. Maybe I'm going down a blind alley here, but that didn't particularly answer the question I was trying to get at, but maybe we don't know. It seems a fairly confused picture to me why it would be that commercial radio is relatively weaker in Wales and the BBC relatively stronger than the UK average, but—

Wel, byddai modd adio at hynny, rwy'n credu. Mae'r ystod o ddewis o radio masnachol yng Nghymru yn llai na gweddill y Deyrnas Unedig. Fel sector, rydym ni wedi gweld yn barod bod y refeniws yn is. Mae modd dadlau efallai fod seiliau radio masnachol yng Nghymru yn wannach nag mewn ardaloedd eraill o’r Deyrnas Unedig. Hefyd, mae’r ystod o ddewis ar, nid jest yr FM, ond ar DAB hefyd, llawer yn is. So, mae ffactorau fel yna yn amlwg yn chwarae mewn i pam efallai fod yna lai o wrandawyr ar radio masnachol yng Nghymru o gymharu â gweddill y Deyrnas Unedig yn sicr.

A oes hefyd cwestiwn yn codi ynglŷn â’r model? Hynny yw, mae’r model yn gweithio yn Lloegr achos mae'n dal, i ryw raddau, wedi’i seilio rownd ardaloedd mwy penodedig, ond pan rydych chi’n darlledu i ardaloedd lot mwy, gyda llai o boblogaeth mewn unrhyw ardal, a ydy hynny’n gwneud e’n fwy anodd i chi greu cysylltiad â’ch cynulleidfa chi? Yn y cyd-destun yma, mi fydd yn ddiddorol sylwi ar, er enghraifft, radio sir Benfro sy'n radio masnachol. Efallai oherwydd bod e’n ardal sydd wedi cael ei ddiffinio mwy, mae efallai’n rhwyddach cyrraedd y gynulleidfa a chreu cysylltiad agos gyda’r gynulleidfa, ac mae eu ffigurau RAJAR nhw, ar y cyfan, wedi bod, yn hanesyddol, yn reit dda, achos mae llai o gystadleuaeth hefyd. Ond mae hynny efallai’n arwydd o fel byddai radio masnachol yn gallu gweithio, Ond, rwy’n cytuno â Glyn, nid oes gennym ni lot o dystiolaeth penodol, jest ffactorau yw’r rhain, rwy’n credu, sydd yn y mix. Mae angen mwy o ymchwil mewn gwirionedd.

Well, I could add to that: that the range of choice of in commercial radio is less than it is in the rest of the UK. As a sector, we have already seen that the revenues are lower. One could argue that the foundations of commercial radio in Wales are weaker than in other parts of the UK. And, also, the range of choice available, not just on FM, but DAB too, is far lower. So, there are factors such as that obviously playing into why there are perhaps fewer listeners of commercial radio in Wales as compared to the rest of the UK certainly.

Is there a question also on the model? The model works in England because it is still, to a certain extent, based around more specific areas, but where you are broadcasting to far larger areas, with a sparser population, does that make it more difficult for you to make a link with your audience? In this context, it’s interesting to note Pembrokeshire commercial radio station. Because it’s a better defined area, then perhaps they find it easier to reach that audience and create that relationship with their audience, and the RAJAR figures for them have historically been quite good because there’s less competition too of course. But that’s perhaps a sign of how commercial radio could work. I agree with Glyn; we don’t have a great deal of specific evidence here, but these are just factors that play into the mix, I think. I think more research is required.

11:10

Thank you. That’s very helpful. Just in terms of the DAB point and its reach, in terms of the new Radio Cymru 2 service, which is DAB only, do we have figures of how many Welsh speakers are able to receive DAB?

Yes, we do. The BBC’s multiplex is—well, it’s a complicated picture really. Whereas the BBC’s UK multiplex has very good coverage now across Wales, the BBC’s services for Wales are carried on local commercial multiplexes. They’ve improved a lot in coverage over the years, and I believe now they’ve come up to about 87 per cent, but there’s still a real problem with DAB in mid Wales in terms of accessing local commercial multiplexes in particular. We talk in the paper about the must-carry provision for the BBC. There’s still an issue, I think, with the availability of local commercial multiplexes in mid Wales, which are very, very poor—hardly available really at all.

So, given that, while the new BBC Radio Cymru extra service is welcomed, do you think DAB is the most appropriate medium to deliver it?

I don’t think we’re equipped to answer that question. I think you’d have to ask the BBC that question.

They will have done the research. [Inaudible.]—likely to receive it. I can’t answer that question.

But you’ve just given evidence that there’s patchy coverage in mid Wales where there is a reasonable number of Welsh speakers, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask you whether or not you think that is the right way to reach that audience.

Y peth yw, mae’r broblem sydd yn wynebu Radio Cymru 2 ar DAB yr un peth â’r broblem sy’n wynebu Radio Wales a Radio Cymru. Hynny yw, mae’r gwasanaethau yma yn cael eu cario ar amlbleth masnachol lleol, a'r trafferth gyda chanolbarth Cymru yw nad oes darpariaeth ar hyn o bryd oherwydd costau'r cyfrwng. Felly, mae'n codi’r cwestiwn a ydy e’n fwy effeithiol. Wrth gwrs, mae’r gwasanaeth ar gael hefyd mewn nifer o ffyrdd eraill. Er enghraifft, rydych chi’n gallu cael e ar y rhyngrwyd, ac wrth gwrs ar deledu Freeview ac yn y blaen. Felly, mae’r BBC wedi bod yn eithaf gofalus, rwy’n credu, i wneud yn siŵr bod yna ddarpariaeth ar draws sawl llwybr, nid jest y DAB, wrth gwrs.

The problem facing Radio Cymru 2 on DAB is the same as the problem facing Radio Wales and Radio Cymru. These services are carried on a commercial multiplex, on a local level, and the problem with mid Wales is that there is no provision at the moment because of the cost of the media. So, it raises a question as to whether it is the most effective way. But the service, of course, is available in a number of other ways. For example, you can access it online and on Freeview and so on. So, the BBC has been quite careful, I think, in ensuring that there is provision across a number of platforms, not just DAB.

Okay. Thank you. That’s also a helpful answer. In terms of Radio Wales being available on FM, which seems to me a thoroughly good thing, I understand that that’s at the expense of Radio 3, where they’ve switched that service. Have you had much representation from outraged Radio 3 listeners in Wales that their quality is going to be denuded?

Dim i ni, na. Rwy’n credu mai mater i’r BBC yw hynny. Dyna’r math o benderfyniad mae’r BBC yn gorfod gwneud o safbwynt gweithredu eu gwasanaethau nhw. Mae hynny lawr i’r ymchwil byddan nhw wedi’i gynnal a’u gwybodaeth nhw o’r gynulleidfa. Nid yw’n rhywbeth y byddem ni’n gallu ymwneud ag e.

No, not to us. I think that’s a matter for the BBC. That’s the kind of decision the BBC has to make in terms of providing its services. And that’s down to the research that they will have conducted and their information about audiences and so on. It's not something with which we could get involved.

Okay. So, just briefly back to the issue we discussed a little earlier about the old BBC operating licence. You made representations that the figure for news and current affairs, which is currently a lot less than 32 hours, down from 53 hours in 2015-16, was unnecessarily timid, and you asked for an improvement and that was not taken up by Ofcom. Is that correct?

We made a number of suggestions for how the operating licence could treat Wales in particular. The figures that you’re quoting were based on the original licences, the previous licences, which apply to individual services of the BBC. We thought this was an opportunity to change that. We thought it was, as you say, unnecessarily timid. We compared it with Scotland. We thought that Radio Wales in particular was performing a very similar service to Radio Scotland, and we didn’t see why the same hours should not apply. Ofcom decided not to implement that and to stick with the figures in the old licences. We regret that, but we made a number of suggestions and they accepted a handful of them and didn't accept the rest.

11:15

What's your hit rate for having your recommendations taken up by Ofcom?

The recommendations that we made on the operating licence, which were very detailed recommendations—I think probably around 25 per cent were successful, and the rest weren't. 

Right. Is that typical of your hit rate with the Ofcom board more generally or is it just particularly unsuccessful on the operating licence?

I would say, since you prompt me, that the overall approach of the operating licence we thoroughly welcomed. It pays far more attention to the nations, to representation and portrayal of the nations, diversity around the United Kingdom and mechanisms for measuring that and for applying that in terms of rules that the BBC will have to follow. The overarching approach of the operating licence we strongly approved. These particular recommendations were detailed recommendations about minimum hours and minimum quotas, which they exceed all the time in any case, but we were not successful in this.

I'm not tyring to be flippant; I'm trying to get at the more substantial point. How successful is the Welsh advisory board at influencing the mother ship?

I think that, if you look across the years in which I have been a member of the advisory committee, we have made substantial progress. I can remember 10 years ago, when I first tried to explain to London that the broadcasting market in Wales was different from the broadcasting market as seen from London, I didn't get much change. And now we have an operating licence for the BBC that specifically refers to the nations in considerable detail. So, taking that one measure—and I could mention others—that's considerable progress.

Albeit setting aside 75 per cent of your recommendations on how it should work.

These were specific and very detailed recommendations on how the licence conditions should be changed that they didn't accept. 

Do you feel that having—and I want to move on to the draft memorandum of understanding that's been published—a specific Welsh representative appointed by Welsh Ministers on the Ofcom board will make a difference?

I've always been strongly in favour of Welsh representation on the Ofcom board. I was the Welsh commissioner on the Electoral Commission—there was a Scottish commissioner and a representative from Northern Ireland—and there was absolutely no problem about that. We operated as a board and we made decisions about UK matters and we made decisions in relation to Scotland and Wales with far more information than we would otherwise have had. I think that that will work perfectly well for Ofcom. There is a question mark around how the advisory committee will work with the new board member, which is something that we have to work through, but I think it will be entirely positive that there will be a representative form Wales on the main Ofcom board.

And do you have any comments on the draft MOU for us to consider?

I haven't seen it recently, so I don't have any comments.

This is the MOU concerning the process by which the board member would be appointed. 

I don't have any comment on it, no.

It means I haven't read it. 

Maybe you can send your comments in after you've had a chance to read it.

Yes, I'm happy to do that.

Ocê, diolch yn fawr. Jenny i ofyn y cwestiynau olaf yn y sesiwn yma.

Okay, thank you very much. Jenny to ask the last questions in this session.

I'm going to have a stab at the infrastructure, because I think the technical detail is a little bit challenging for me. The Government is proposing that the BBC will lose its 'must carry' status on the multiplexes provided by the commercial radios. So, they're going to go on to what instead?

A allaf gywiro hynny? Yn ein papur ni, rŷm ni'n dweud mai ar gyfer y plethiadau lleol newydd yma rŷm ni'n sôn am—y rhai graddfa bach—na fyddai gan y BBC yr hawl awtomatig i gael ei gario arnynt. Mor bell ag yr wyf fi'n gwybod, nid oes unrhyw sôn am newid y trefniadau ynglyn â'r plethiadau masnachol presennol sy'n bodoli sydd yng Nghymru, ac mae gan y BBC yr hawl i wasanaethau gael eu cario ar rheini. Mae hwnnw'n parhau ac nid oes dim newid mor bell ag yr wyf fi'n gwybod. 

Y peth gyda'r plethiadau newydd, lleol yma rydym ni'n sôn amdanynt, y rhai graddfa bach—beth mae ymgynghoriad y DCMS yn dweud yw na fyddan nhw ddim o reidrwydd yn rhoi'r hawl yma yn y lle cyntaf, felly, i'r BBC i gael eu cario ar y gwasanaethau yma, ond byddai dim byd i stopio'r BBC rhag gwneud cais i gael eu cario lle byddai hyn yn helpu gydag argaeledd y gwasanaeth yn fwy cyffredinol. So, er enghraifft, pe bai yna, dywedwn ni, blethiad lleol yn digwydd rhywle yng nghanolbarth Cymru lle mae nad yw derbyniad DAB Radio Cymru ar hyn o bryd ddim yn arbennig o dda, byddai, efallai, y BBC yn gallu gwneud cais i gael eu cario ar y plethiad yna er mwyn gallu ehangu argaeledd Radio Cymru. 

Mae'n gwestiwn gwahanol, felly, i'r ffordd mae'r BBC yn cael ei gario nawr ar y plethiadau radio masnachol lleol presennol, os mae hynny'n gwneud synnwyr.  

Could I correct that? In our paper, we say that we are talking about the local multiplexes—the small-scale multiplexes—where the BBC wouldn't have that automatic 'must carry' right. As far as I know, there is no mention in terms of the arrangements for the commercial multiplexes currently in existence where the BBC has that must-carry status, and that will remain. There are going to be no changes, as far as I know, to that.

The issue with these new, local, small-scale multiplexes is that what the DCMS consultation says is that they wouldn't necessarily provide this right initially for the BBC to have that must-carry status, but there would be nothing stopping the BBC from applying where that would assist with the availability of services more generally. So, for example, if there was a local multiplex somewhere in mid Wales where the DAB reception for Radio Cymru isn't particularly good, then the BBC could apply to be carried on that local multiplex in order to enhance the availability of Radio Cymru. 

So, it's a different question in terms of the way the BBC is carried on the current commercial local radio multiplexes, if that makes sense. 

11:20

A fedrwch chi jest egluro i leygwr pur beth ydy plethiad?

Could you just explain to a pure layperson what a multiplex is? 

Multiplex—

A multiplex—

Plethiad yw casgliad o wasanaethau yn y byd digidol. Yn wahanol i'r byd analog, lle mae un tonfedd yn cario un gwasanaeth, yn y byd digidol, mae un tonfedd yn cario plethiad o wasanaethau. So, mae'r digidol yn rhoi'r cyfle i wneud defnydd mwy effeithiol o'r amledd, felly rydych chi'n gallu cario llawer mwy o wasanaethau mewn un tonfedd na fyddech chi'n gallu gwneud yn y byd analog. Felly, rydych chi'n creu plethiad, ac ar hyn o bryd yng Nghymru, mae yna ddau fath o blethiad: mae gennych chi blethiadau sydd ar gael ar draws y Deyrnas Unedig—un gan y BBC—ac mae yna ddau masnachol yn bodoli, ac yn ogystal, mae yna, mewn ffordd, nifer o blethiadau rhanbarthol ar draws Cymru sy'n cario gwasanaethau masnachol lleol, ac ar y rheini yng Nghymru mae gan y BBC yr hawl i Radio Cymru a Radio Wales gael eu cario hefyd.

Felly, dyna beth sy'n bwysig o ran y rheini yw—. Hynny yw, tra bod gwasanaethau y Deyrnas Unedig y BBC yn cael eu cario ar un plethiad—ac mae argaeledd hynny erbyn hyn yn reit dda—y broblem yn hanesyddol yng Nghymru oedd bod rhaid i Radio Cymru a Radio Wales ddibynnu ar gael eu cario ar DAB a sut roedd plethiadau masnachol yn datblygu. Ac yn y dechrau, dim ond dau ohonyn nhw oedd: roedd un ar gyfer Caerdydd a Chasnewydd ac un ar gyfer Abertawe. Felly, roedd Radio Cymru yn gyfyngedig—ac rydw i'n credu gwnes i ddweud yn y papur—i 41 y cant o argaeledd achos dyna'r unig le roedden nhw ar gael.

Wrth gwrs, erbyn heddiw, rŷm ni mewn llawer gwell sefyllfa: mae yna blethiadau lleol ar draws y rhan fwyaf o Gymru, ond y man gwan, fel gwnes i ddweud yn gynt, yw nad yw e wedi gweithio mas yn fasnachol. Er ein bod ni wedi eu trwyddedu nhw—maen nhw wedi cael eu trwyddedu ar gyfer canolbarth Cymru—yn fasnachol, nid yw'r arian ar gael i'w gweithredu nhw. Mae'r darparwyr presennol yn dweud nad ydyn nhw'n gallu, yn fasnachol, cyfiawnhau'r gost o gael plethiadau lleol, masnachol, ar gyfer canolbarth Cymru. Nid yw wedi gweithio mas yn fasnachol—

A mutliplex is a collection of services in the digital world. Unlike the analogue world, where you have one wavelength carrying one service, in digital, you have a multiplex of services. Digital provides the opportunity to make more effective use of the frequency available, so you can carry far more services than you could on analogue. So, you create that multiplex, and at the moment in Wales, there are two types of multiplexes: you have multiplexes available pan UK—one by the BBC, and two commercial—and in addition to that, you have a number of regional multiplexes across Wales that carry local and commercial services, and on those, in Wales, the BBC has the right for Radio Cymru and Radio Wales to be carried too.

So that's what's important in those terms. But whilst the BBC's UK-wide services are carried on a single multiplex and the availability of that is quite good now, historically, the problem in Wales has been that Radio Cymru and Radio Wales had to rely on being carried on DAB and the development of commercial multiplexes. Initially, there were only two: one for Cardiff and Newport and the other for Swansea. So, Radio Cymru was limited to 41 per cent availability because that's the only areas where they were available.

But now, the situation is better: there are local multiplexes across most of Wales, but the weak point is that it hasn't worked out commercially. Although we've licensed them—they have been licensed for mid Wales—commercially, the funding isn't available to implement them. The current providers say that they can't commercially justify the cost of having local, commercial multiplexes for mid Wales. It hasn't worked out commercially—

Nid yw hynny i ddweud na allai ddigwydd yn y dyfodol, wrth gwrs, os mae sefyllfa economaidd y busnes yn newid. Un peth sydd yn anodd gyda DAB yw bod y costau o weithredu DAB mor uchel ac wedi aros yn uchel, yn draddodiadol, ers blynyddoedd. Beth sy'n ddiddorol am gynllun newydd graddfa bach DAB yw ei fod e'n cynnig ffordd o ddarparu DAB, o bosib, ar gostau llawer yn is. Ac rydw i'n credu, o safbwynt y farchnad a chystadleuaeth, mae hynny'n beth iach iawn.

It's not the case that it couldn't happen in the future if the economic and business models change, but one thing that's difficult with DAB is that the costs of implementation are so high and have remained high. What's interesting about the new, small-scale DAB scheme is that it provides a way of making DAB provision at far lower cost, possibly, and in terms of the market and competition, that's very healthy indeed. 

Diolch. Rydw i'n deall y peth yn well rŵan. 

Thank you. I understand it all now. 

So, these multiplexes, are they carried via airwaves or are they carried via cables? 

Dros yr awyr. 

Airwaves. 

Maen nhw'n cael eu cario ar grŵp o donfeddi gwahanol i'r grŵp o donfeddi sydd yn cael eu darparu ar gyfer FM. Maen nhw ar donfeddi eithaf lot yn uwch, mewn gwirionedd, o ran amledd, ond—

They are carried on a group of different wavelengths to those provided for FM. They are on higher wavelengths in terms of frequency, but—

Maen nhw'n cael eu darlledu o drosglwyddyddion ar draws Cymru, ond maen nhw'n defnyddio amleddau uwch nag amleddau y byddech chi'n defnyddio ar gyfer FM ar hyn o bryd. Mae FM yn cael ei ddarlledu o—

They are broadcast from transmitters across Wales, but they use higher frequencies than those that you would use for FM at the moment. FM is transmitted—

Okay, but they're not perfect mechanisms, are they? Because, ovbiously, in particular areas that supposedly are well covered, you'll have valleys where reception is very poor. Has anybody thought of pushing up a satellite to resolve this problem once and for all?

Mae radio yn cael ei ddarlledu ar loeren, wrth gwrs. Felly, er enghraifft, ar loeren nawr byddwch chi'n gallu cael Radio Cymru a Radio Wales ar draws Cymru, er enghraifft, ar wasanaeth Freeview neu ar wasanaeth Sky neu ffurf debyg. Felly, mae lloeren, wrth gwrs, yn opsiwn arall. Y trafferth gyda lloeren, wrth gwrs, yw nad yw e ddim yn rhywbeth symudol. Gallwch chi gael lloeren i'ch tŷ, dywedwn ni, wedi cysylltu â set deledu, ond byddai'n anodd ei ffitio fe i'r car. Nid yw'n ymarferol iawn ar gyfer symud rownd. Mae radio sy'n cael ei ddarlledu o drosglwyddyddion yn dal yn bwysig fel cyfrwng pan rydych chi'n symud, pan rydych chi'n teithio, felly rwy'n credu bod datblygiad DAB yn y cyd-destun yna yn bwysig. 

Un pwynt arall am DAB, wrth gwrs, fel technoleg ddigidol yw pan fydd derbyniad yn mynd yn wan—pan mae'r signal yn mynd yn wan—rydych chi'n cael y clogwyn, mewn ffordd; mae'r signal jest yn diflannu'n llwyr. Mae naill ai'n gweithio neu ddim yn gweithio, tra gydag FM mae o jest yn dirywio, so rŷch chi'n cael rhyw fath o wasanaeth ond mae lot o sŵn cefndir. So, mae hwnnw'n wahaniaeth technegol a chyn bod y newid i ddigidol yn gallu digwydd, bydd rhaid bod nifer y trosglwyddyddion ac hefyd cryfder y signal ar y ddaear ar draws y Deyrnas Unedig yn ddigon da i atal y problemau yna rhag digwydd. Mater i'r Gweinidog fydd hynny, wrth gwrs, i wneud asesiad maes o law.    

Radio can be broadcast via satellite, of course. So, on satellite, you can access Radio Cymru and Radio Wales across Wales on the Freeview service or on Sky and other platforms. So, satellite is another option. The problem with satellite is it isn't something that's mobile: you can have it attached to a television set, but it wouldn't be available in the car. It's not particularly practical for mobile broadcasting. Transmitters are still important for those on the move, those who are travelling, so I think the development of DAB in that context is important. 

Another point on DAB, of course, as a digital technology is that when reception is weak, then you have that cliff edge; it just disappears entirely. It either works or it doesn't. With FM, it just declines and cuts in and out, so you have some sort of service with a lot of white noise. So, that's a technical difference and before the change to digital can happen, the number of transmitters and the strength of the signal across the UK will have to be sufficient to stop those problems from happening. That's a matter for the Minister, of course, to carry out an assessment in due course. 

11:25

Ocê. Un cwestiwn arall; wedyn rwy'n meddwl bod rhaid i ni—

Okay. One final question; then I think we need to—

Okay. So, the huge roll-out by the Welsh Government in trying to get broadband across the whole nation—that isn't a solution to the reception problems because it's no good when you're in the car. 

Ie. Band eang parhaol yw e—mae'n fixed. Nid yw'n rhywbeth symudol, felly mae o'n rhywbeth sy'n ymwneud â chyrraedd lleoliadau fel tai ac yn y blaen.   

Yes. It's fixed broadband. It isn't mobile, so it's about reaching locations such as houses and so on. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am ddod i fewn atom ni, a diolch am ein haddysgu ni y bore yma ar nifer o faterion, yn enwedig y pethau technegol. Diolch yn fawr i chi. Mi gymerwn ni doriad byr iawn cyn symud at dystiolaeth gan Ofcom. 

Thank you very much to you both for joining us, and thank you for educating us this morning on a number of matters, especially those technical issues. So, thank you very much to you both. We'll have a very short break before we move on to evidence from Ofcom. 

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 11:26 a 11:30.

The meeting adjourned between 11:26 and 11:30.

11:30
4. Radio yng Nghymru: Sesiwn dystiolaeth 2: Ofcom
4. Radio in Wales: Evidence Session 2: Ofcom

Dyma ni'n cyrraedd eitem 4 yn y pwyllgor y bore yma, yn parhau efo'n hymchwiliad i radio yng Nghymru. Croeso cynnes iawn i Rhodri Williams, cyfarwyddwr Cymru Ofcom, a Neil Stock, cyfarwyddwr trwyddedu darlledu Ofcom. Mae Neil yn mynd i gychwyn y cwestiynu.

Now we've reached item 4 of this committee meeting this morning, continuing our inquiry into radio in Wales. A very warm welcome to Rhodri Williams, director in Wales of Ofcom, and Neil Stock, director of broadcasting licensing for Ofcom. Neil is going to start with the questions today.

Diolch yn fawr. I'd like to explore, first of all, the UK Government's proposals for deregulation of commercial radio and Ofcom's view on this. The Ofcom advisory committee has said that attempts to regulate music on commercial radio are almost certainly futile in the digital age, with the internet and digital broadcasting not being covered by current regulations. Obviously, what we are concerned about, most of all, is news coverage and plurality of sources, and also local content. So, to what extent do you think that deregulation in this area is likely to threaten those desirable public benefits that, currently, the legislation gives us?

The first key point to make is these are obviously Government proposals rather than Ofcom's. So, to a certain extent, we're providing information based on a slightly arm's-length view of it. I think what the UK Government has said is that, while they see scope for deregulating certain aspects of commercial radio, local news is the one area that they think is important, where some form of public intervention—continuing public intervention—is important. So, their proposals include an ongoing requirement for local news to still be delivered.

There's a lot of detail about what that's going to mean in practice. Obviously, we'll end up probably helping them figure out the actual details when we come to it. But, certainly, while they're proposing deregulation in certain areas, they're saying that local news is the most important thing to listeners and they'll continue to regulate for it. They've also said they think that also should be the case for DAB services, which, as you mentioned, currently don't have any form of that kind of regulation. 

So, obviously, there's a separate migration strategy, if I can put it that way, that the UK Government has in terms of migrating radio from analogue to digital. I think DCMS is starting to try and put the two things together and think about what regulation currently looks like, where it's mainly focused on analogue radio and there's very little on digital, and—if we're going to shift the listening and the services to digital—think about what should regulation look like if we do get to an all-digital world.

Local news is the one consistent thing that they're talking about. They've also talked about other types of local information such as travel, weather and that sort of stuff—which, obviously, most commercial radio stations would do anyway—but the Government is talking about having requirements in licences that stations deliver that.

The other problem is that the existing format of regulation refers to the UK and to local services. Wales is very definitely a nation. Therefore, this is another major issue, of course, in terms of the type of news and other related kinds of content. To what extent can we successfully move in this direction of more broadcasting of news that is Wales based, rather than locally based or UK based?

I'm not sure that the DCMS has necessarily said anything specifically about what the requirements might look like. So, for example, I don't think they've necessarily ruled in or ruled out an idea that, if you're a station based in a nation, you may have to deliver a certain amount of nation news as opposed to UK-wide news. I think that's the sort of thing that will get worked out.

Obviously, the Government has to legislate to make this happen, and that's going to take a while. So, when that happens, no doubt they'll come to us and ask us for some advice. We will then probably be given some sort of framework, within which we'll probably have to do a consultation on how do we deliver that framework. We currently have a set of localness guidelines that are currently a statutory requirement that we have to provide. I don't know; it may well be that there's a continuing requirement for us to produce those, but they'll probably look a little bit different. Obviously, we would consult on what they would include. Based on whatever the statutory framework is, we would set out a set of proposals to consult on that. So, it may well include that sort of thing. 

11:35

So, you would be statutorily restricted at the moment from taking a view on the desirability or otherwise of this kind of change, would you, or—?

I don't think we're statutorily restricted. I think it's more that—. I think a few commercial radio stations already provide—. I know Nation Radio does quite a lot of nation-based news voluntarily. They choose to do that. What our current localness guidance—. The statutory framework doesn't really say anything at all at the moment about—. It doesn't distinguish between local and national, by which I mean UK-wide, news. There is no statutory definition of sub-UK news that isn't local. So, our guidance, therefore, doesn't make that explicit restriction either. But, stations are free to deliver that kind of content, and some of them do.

You've recently given permission to Nation Broadcasting to share programming between five of its local stations. So, I was wondering what your view is of the impact of ownership structures of local radio stations upon local content. Obviously, if you've got one company owning a multiplicity of stations, and all their news programming is directed from a single source, that limits the plurality. Given the commercial realities of local radio and, particularly in Wales, the limited scope for developing commercial revenue streams, are we fighting a—well, I know we're fighting an uphill battle, but is it ultimately an impossible battle to win, to expect to have greater plurality of news sources at the local level?

I'm not sure I have a definitive answer to that. In terms of—

And therefore, to what extent is it susceptible to regulation in the direction you would want to go?

I think it's worth saying that, in terms of ownership rules, there once was a time when there were quite restrictive and very, very complicated ownership rules for local commercial radio licences. There was a highly complicated structure to determine who was able to own certain licences. Those rules were repealed several years ago, so there aren't actually any specific ownership rules restricting who can own, or how many an individual company can own. Obviously, there's competition law, which can have an effect, if relevant. In Wales, the impact of that is the fact that Communicorp holds one or two licences now, because Global Radio was prevented from holding them by the competition authority, not by Ofcom. 

But, in terms of plurality of news, I think the situation at the moment is, obviously, Nation Broadcasting owns a lot of commercial radio in Wales. Clearly, they have, from a commercial point of view, needed or felt they've needed to consolidate in terms of studio location and provide a similar local news service across multiple services, because that's the only commercial way of doing it for them. Global, obviously, is providing its own separate local news service.

I think plurality of news, again, will be something that'll be covered in the regulations, as and when they change. So, in other words, if the UK Government decides that it's important, as well as requiring commercial radio stations to provide local news, that there's a plurality of that local news, then they could put something in the new legislation that gives Ofcom some sort of power to make that happen. Again, I don't know what that would look like, but they may decide that that's an appropriate thing to do.

Having said that, I think, in their consultation, they talked about the idea that, actually, commercial radio stations may be able to share news services where the cost to individual groups or stations of providing their own local news services is challenging. So, that might suggest that that's working against that. But, again, these are all decisions for UK Government, rather than Ofcom.

11:40

With the consultation, whereabouts are we, time wise, with that now?

The Government published its response, as they call it, or statement, as we call them in Ofcom, just before Christmas, in which they announced that, effectively, they were going to carry through the proposals they'd originally consulted on, which was about a year ago, last February, but they also said that, to effect all of these proposals, they need to introduce primary legislation through the UK Parliament. As I'm sure you will appreciate, that's quite challenging, for the time being. So, they've effectively said, 'We're going to do this as quickly as possible, but it's not going to happen very quickly.'

So, in the meantime, they have also said that—they've asked us, as Ofcom, to look to see whether there is any scope within the current statutory framework for us to review our current policies and guidelines as to whether or not there's any way in which we can review those. So, that is something we're planning to do this year—to look again at our rules in lieu of a new statutory framework. Obviously, anything we do would have to be within the context of the current statutory framework, because it's not going to change anytime soon. So, basically, the full deregulation as proposed by Government won't happen until they legislate for it, and your guess is as good as mine as to how long that will take, but it's going to be at least two or three years, I would have thought.  

It has, yes. It's closed and they've published their statement, yes.

If this committee wished to influence and present views around the level of news coverage that commercial radio will have to have from now on, that would be aimed at you from this point.

Yes. Obviously, there may be a point in time at which the Government is drawing up the legislative framework and there will be a consultation aspect to that, which obviously the committee and others can contribute to. Ofcom will undoubtedly have to consult at some point in that process about how we're going to implement the new framework, and that will be another opportunity to express your views about it.

Just one question: I know you heard the evidence that was given earlier about a window of opportunity in terms of deregulation and so on; is that where that fits in in terms of change in terms of all-Wales news, or am I on a different subject?

As I say, the Government has—. I don't know if the committee was able to contribute to the Government's consultation, but the UK Government has now published its response. So, I think, from their point of view, they've consulted on it, they've decided what they want to do, and they published a statement saying that. But, because they have to legislate to make it all happen, it—

I understand that, but that's the point that was being made earlier in terms of opportunities in terms of the concept of all-Wales news and so on and the treatment of that. If there was an opportunity to influence, it is going to arise probably at the stage where regulations or draft regulations have been presented and there's a consultation on those. That would probably be the only real opportunity—when you have to consult on those—to, I suppose, intervene to push that point.

In terms of the Government's timetable, yes. But, as I've just said, we as Ofcom are going to be looking at the existing rules as they stand today, in lieu of the fact that legislation won't be appearing for quite some time now. So, in other words, we will be consulting at some point this year, this calendar year.

So, in terms of your own consultation and rules, there's an opportunity there as well to re-emphasise this particular point. I mean, do you have a particular view on that, on the representations that have previously been made, and on comments from earlier? I know that if you have a consultation, obviously that will take its course, but, do you think this is a valid area, an area that really needs to be looked at?

Sorry, can you just clarify specifically which area—nations news?

In terms of this concept of all-Wales news and the requirements in terms of how news is presented, and the proportions, and for Welsh news to be treated as a concept in itself as opposed to just treated as local news.

So, at the moment, in the way we are currently envisaging, the main area that the radio industry has asked us to look at is the volume of programmes made locally they're required to broadcast. There are currently rules around how many hours of their programmes each day have to be made in the studio, in the area they broadcast to, or a nearby area. They're very keen for us to review that, so we will be doing that. As things currently stand, there hasn't been—you're the first to ask to review our current guidance on news, but this will be a consultation, so we're willing to look at any areas of our current localness guidance, and obviously that would include—

11:45

So, there's an opportunity for this committee to make those specific recommendations that you'd—. Okay, that's helpful. Thank you.

Yes, that's helpful. Thank you. Can I turn to Lee, and

edrych ar wasanaethau'r BBC?

look at BBC services?

Just on that, your philosophical starting point is to reduce the level of regulation.

No, not necessarily. I think our philosophical starting point is that the last time that we reviewed our localness guidance was eight years ago now, in 2010, when we did a major research exercise and a major consultation. At that point, we changed some of the rules, and you're right, that was generally a reduction in some of the requirements. But, obviously, times have changed quite a lot for commercial radio in terms of the ongoing expansion of digital, online services, the level of competition, everything else. So, we think it's probably right to review that anyway, just simply because it's the right thing to do, but obviously particularly in light of the fact that this new statutory framework now seems further off than we originally expected it to be.

But we have a very open mind. It depends on what evidence we can gather. Obviously, we'll have our own perspective on how we think the current rules have worked over the last eight years. For example, we'll have data—I'm afraid I don't have it to hand now, but we'll have data about, for example, after the last deregulatory initiative, whether we had any complaints from listeners, how many we had, what they complained about. We'll know how the radio industry is doing and the aspects of the current rules they think are difficult, or not, as the case may be. We may well have to do some new research to try and get a view from listeners about how do they feel about the service they're getting from commercial radio. So, we have a very open mind. We're not necessarily going into this with the intention of only consulting on deregulatory initiatives.

But the pressure, from your view, is coming from the radio industry, the radio industry wants to reduce the obligations on it, and your track record to date has been to deregulate. That's a fair summary, isn't it?

Okay. Now, in terms of the—we've just had some evidence from the Ofcom advisory committee for Wales that said that 75 per cent of its detailed recommendations on the operating licence for the BBC were not taken up by Ofcom. Can you tell us why that is?

I'm going to hand over to Rhodri for this.

Wel, fel gyda phob ymgynghoriad, yr hyn y mae Ofcom yn ceisio i'w wneud yw gosod allan, yn y lle cyntaf, lle mae'n credu y dylai polisi fynd, wedyn i ymgynghori a chymryd sylw o'r sylwadau sydd yn cael eu rhoi. Mae'r sylwadau hynny, fel arfer, yn dod o wahanol gyfeiriadau. Maen nhw'n dod gan bobl sydd â diddordebau gwahanol, sydd â safbwyntiau gwahanol, ac wrth gwrs yn gorfod cynnwys safbwynt y person, y corff, sydd yn cael ei reoleiddio yn yr achos yma, sef—

Well, as with all consultations, what Ofcom endeavours to do is to set out in the first instance where it believes policy should go, and then to consult on that and take note of the comments submitted in consultation. Those comments usually come from various different sources. They come from individuals who have different interests and different views, and of course they have to include the views of the organisation regulated—

But we're talking about your own advisory board for Wales here. We're not talking about various—

Wel, maen nhw yma i ddarparu cyngor i Ofcom, ond mae Ofcom yn cymryd sylw yn yr un ffordd o'r hyn sydd yn cael ei ddweud gan y pwyllgor yma, pwyllgorau eraill yn y lle yma, gan Aelodau'r Cynulliad—

Well, they are here to provide advice to Ofcom, but Ofcom does take note in the same way of what is said by this committee and other committees of this place, comments made by Assembly Members—

—gan Lywodraeth Cymru, ac yn y diwedd yn gorfod penderfynu beth sydd yn addas. Rydw i'n credu, ar fater o drwydded y BBC, ar ôl ystyried yn ofalus, fe ddaethom ni i'r casgliad bod trwydded newydd yn codi'r bar o ran yr hyn a oedd yn ddisgwyliedig gan y BBC. Mewn nifer o achosion, mae'r lefelau disgwyliedig yn y dyfodol yn uwch na'r rhai a osodwyd gan ymddiriedolaeth y BBC yn y gorffennol. Felly, rŷm ni wedi codi'r bar, ond—ac mae hwn yn egwyddor bwysig i'r holl drafodaeth ynglŷn â'r drwydded—yr angen i adael rhywfaint o hyblygrwydd yna i’r BBC benderfynu drosto’i hunan sut y dylid cynllunio a darparu ei wasanaethau. Nid lle Ofcom yw dweud wrth y BBC, 'Dyma sut y dylech chi fod yn comisiynu eich cynnwys'. Mae yna isafswm y dylem ni fod yn rhoi mewn, ond mae e’n bwysig ac yn egwyddor ganolog i’n rheoleiddio ni mai'r BBC sydd yn disgrifio yn gyntaf, ac yn gosod allan yn ei gynllun gweithredol, dyma sut maen nhw’n gweld y dyfodol. Ein gwaith ni wedyn yw mesur eu perfformiad nhw yn erbyn hynny.

—by the Welsh Government, and, ultimately, has to decide what is appropriate. I do believe that, on the issue of the BBC licence, having considered the issue carefully, we came to the conclusion that the new licence did raise the bar in terms of what was expected from the BBC. In a number of areas, the levels of expectation in future are higher than those set by the BBC Trust in the past, so we have raised the bar in that respect. But—and this is an important principle to all the discussions surrounding the licence—there is a need to allow some flexibility for the BBC to decide for itself how its services should be planned and provided. It's not Ofcom's role to inform the BBC, 'This is how you should be commissioning your content'. There is a minimum standard that we should put in place, but it is important and a central principle of our regulation that it's the BBC that describes in the first instance and sets out in its action plan, 'This is how we see the future'. It's our job, then, to measure their performance against that.

11:50

Well, I think if I was a member of your Welsh advisory board and 75 per cent of my recommendations had been set aside, I might feel a little demoralised and question what the purpose of the work I was doing was.

Specifically in terms of their recommendations on BBC Radio Wales and news and current affairs—something we touched upon earlier—in Scotland, you're requiring Radio Scotland to provide 50 hours of news and current affairs. Three years ago, in Wales, you required 53 hours, and, despite the representations of your advisory board, you're now only requiring BBC Wales to provide 32 hours. They regarded that as unnecessarily timid. I'm minded to agree.

Nac ydw. Na. Rydw i’n credu bod yr amgylchiadau yn yr Alban ac yng Ngogledd Iwerddon, a Lloegr, yn hynny o beth, yn wahanol—

No. I think the circumstances in Scotland and in Northern Ireland and England are different—

They are; they already get very well served for news and current affairs and we don't and you're giving us a significantly lower threshold.

Nid ydw i yn derbyn ei fod yn is na’r hyn sydd yn rhesymol i BBC Radio Wales ei gynhyrchu. Mae e’n is na’r Alban ond mae e’n hanesyddol yn is ac mae’r BBC wedi dewis—. Mae gan y BBC—ac rwy’n siŵr byddwch yn siarad gyda nhw maes o law—rywfaint o ddisgresiwn yng Nghymru, yn yr Alban, yng Ngogledd Iwerddon sut maen nhw’n gwario’u harian. Mater i’r BBC yn y lle cyntaf yw penderfynu beth sydd yn lefel addas, nid yn unig o oriau o newyddion a materion cyfoes, ond o bopeth arall. Felly, rydw i’n hapus ein bod ni wedi dod i sefyllfa lle mae’r drwydded yn codi’r bar ar draws lefel y gwasanaethau ac yn un rhesymol. Rydw i’n derbyn, wrth gwrs, efallai byddai pobl—.  Nid yw’n anghyffredin— 

I don't accept that it is lower than what is reasonable for BBC Radio Wales to produce. It is lower than in Scotland, but it's been historically lower and the BBC has chosen—. The BBC—and I'm sure that you will speak to them in due time—do have some discretion in Wales, in Scotland and in Northern Ireland in terms of how they spend their money. It's a matter for the BBC in the first instance to decide what is an appropriate level, not only in terms of the hours of news and current affairs, but everything else too. So, I'm content that we have reached a position where the licence does raise the bar in terms of a range of services and is reasonable. And I accept, of course, that people might—. It's not unusual—

Excuse me, can I interrupt? Because, in terms of raising the bar, we're going down from 53 hours to 32. That's not raising the bar. Whereas, in Scotland, it's at 50, and, as I said, the Scottish market is already well served. Yes, you say the BBC has discretion, but you are the regulator. Your own advisory board for Wales is telling you you need to do better, and, along with the other 75 per cent of the recommendations, you've set it aside, and, other than it's for the discretion of the BBC, I've yet to hear a coherent argument why that is.

Oherwydd, fel roeddwn i’n ei ddweud yn y lle cyntaf, ein bod ni’n gosod targedau sydd yn uwch na thargedau blaenorol yr ymddiriedolaeth, ond yn is na’r hyn mae’r gwasanaethau eu hunain yn ei gynhyrchu. Felly, nid yw’n uchafswm, isafswm yw e, ac os ydy’r BBC yn dewis eu bod nhw am wario mwy o arian ar newyddion a materion cyfoes ar Radio Wales yn hytrach na, dywedwn ni, materion cyfoes ar deledu yn Gymraeg i S4C, neu yn Saesneg ar gyfer BBC One, mater iddyn nhw yw hynny. Nid wyf yn credu y byddwn ni’n gyfforddus gyda gorfodi newid ar y BBC cyn cychwyn yr—. Hynny yw, mae’r holl berthynas gyda’r BBC yn un newydd; rŷm ni yn y flwyddyn gyntaf o’i weithredu fe, ac nid ydw i'n credu nawr byddai’r amser i Ofcom fod yn ymyrryd yn y fath fodd fyddai’n gorfodi’r BBC i newid cyfeiriad. Mae’n fater o edrych ar yr hyn maen nhw’n ei gynhyrchu—

Because, as I said earlier, we set targets that are higher than the previous targets set by the trust but are lower than what the services themselves produce. So, it's not a maximum, it's a minimum, and if the BBC decides that they want to spend more money on news and current affairs on Radio Wales rather than current affairs on television in Welsh for S4C, or in English for BBC One, then that is an issue for them. I don't think that we would be comfortable with forcing a change on the BBC before—. That's to say that the whole relationship with the BBC is new, and we're in the first year of its implementation, and I don't think now would be the time for Ofcom to be intervening in such a way that would require the BBC to change direction. It's a matter of looking at what they produce—

There's probably limited value in pursuing this, but I haven't heard a coherent argument as to why we deserve less than Scotland, and, clearly, neither has your own advisory board.

But just to move on to the way that BBC network news serves Wales on radio, I wonder what assurances you can give us on that. Because the charter—it's the new charter itself—and the operating licence has the potential, as you say, to raise the bar in some areas. But the record of BBC network in covering Wales is not particularly encouraging. Just last week—to give an anecdotal example but a contemporary one—there was a report on a UK-wide plastic bottles tax, which, clearly, was completely ignorant of the fact that this was devolved. This has happened repeatedly—time and again—despite reviews trying to correct this. It's still happening. So, what can you, as a regulator, do to reassure us that not only is Wales going to be well served by network radio, but that these nuances will be corrected?

11:55

Yr hyn yr ŷm ni wedi'i osod yn y drwydded, a hynny am y tro cyntaf, yw goblygiadau canolog ar y BBC ac ar ei wasanaethau yn eu cyfanrwydd i gynrychioli ac i adlewyrchu'r hyn sydd yn digwydd trwy'r Deyrnas Gyfunol yn ei gyfanrwydd, ac yn y broses o dderbyn adroddiadau gan y BBC ar eu perfformiad nhw eu hunain—hynny yw, mi fyddwn ni nes ymlaen yn y flwyddyn yn derbyn adroddiad gan y BBC ar eu perfformiad nhw—byddwn ni wedyn yn adrodd yn ôl ar hwnnw, ac yn adrodd i ba raddau rŷm ni'n credu bod y BBC wedi cwrdd â'r targedau hynny. Felly, bydd hynny'n rhywbeth a fydd yn cael ei fesur. Bydd gyda ni ystadegau, bydd gyda ni ymchwil a hefyd mi fydd gan Ofcom y gallu i gomisiynu darnau o ymchwil penodol mewn i feysydd rŷm ni'n meddwl sydd yn haeddu'r sylw ychwanegol hynny. Fel mae'n digwydd, mae'r portread a chynrychiolaeth o'r cenhedloedd ar wasanaethau'r BBC ar deledu yn rhywbeth sydd yn cael ei ystyried yn awr—mae hwnnw'n rhywbeth y byddwn ni'n ei wneud eleni, ac rydw i'n siwr y byddwn ni'n talu'r un fath o sylw i wasanaethau radio.

A hefyd mae'r cwestiwn yma ynglŷn â'r dreth plastig rŷch chi'n sôn am yn un diddorol oherwydd mae gennym ni gyfrifoldeb nid yn unig dros ddi-dueddrwydd gwasanaethau BBC am y tro cyntaf—roedd hwn yn ardal, wrth gwrs, a oedd yn rhan o weithgaredd yr ymddiriedolaeth yn y gorffenol—ond mae gyda ni hefyd gyfrifoldeb ynglŷn â chywirdeb newyddion. Felly, mi fyddwn ni yn sicr yn barod ac yn awyddus i dderbyn enghreifftiau o adroddiadau newyddion, ac nid oes dim ots gyda fi ar ba gyfrwng maen nhw—teledu, radio, o fewn rhaglen materion cyfoes neu newyddion—lle mae e'n anghywir, oherwydd, os yw e, mae hynny yn rhywbeth y byddem yn sicr am godi gyda'r BBC.

What we've laid out in the licence, and that's for the first time, are the central obligations on the BBC and its services as a whole to represent and to reflect what happens throughout the United Kingdom as a whole, and in the process of receiving reports from the BBC on its own performance—that is, we will later on in the year receive a report by the BBC on its performance—we will then be reporting back on that, and reporting on the extent to which we believe that the BBC has met its targets. So, that will be something that will be measured. We will have statistics; we'll have research and Ofcom will also have the ability to commission specific pieces of research into areas that we think deserve additional attention. As it happens, the portrayal and representation of the nations on the BBC services on television is something that is currently being considered—that's something that we will be doing this year, and I'm sure that we will be giving the same attention to radio services. 

Also this question about the plastics tax that you mentioned is an interesting one because we do have a responsibility not only for the impartiality of BBC services for the first time—this was an area that was part of the work of the trust in the past—but we also have a responsibility with regard to the accuracy of news. So, we will certainly be eager to hear of examples of news reports, and I don't mind on what media—television, radio, within current affairs programme or news—where they were inaccurate, because if that's the case then that's something that we would certainly want to raise with the BBC.

Can I just finally ask you, as the outgoing director for Wales of Ofcom, do you feel this, in your experience of coverage by BBC network to date: do you feel that there's a case for Ofcom to use those new powers to look into this to see if the service can be improved?

Rydw i'n credu ei fod yn dibynnu ar y dystiolaeth sydd yn dod i law. Os oes yna dystiolaeth—. Wrth gwrs, fe gofiwch chi—

I think it depends on the evidence that comes to hand. If there is evidence—. Of course, you will recall that—

Based on your judgment, do you think Ofcom should look into this?

Os ydy'r dystiolaeth yn cyfiawnhau hynny. Os oes yna dystiolaeth fod yna rhaglenni yn cael eu darlledu sydd yn anghywir yn eu cynnwys—

If the evidence justifies that. If there is evidence that there are programmes being broadcast that are inaccurate in their content—

Well, there's a slew of evidence over many years. There have been reports by Anthony King and others. I've just given you an example from last week. I'm asking you for your own personal judgment, aside from what further representations you may have, whether you think Ofcom, using these new powers, there is a case to look at.

Wel, mae yna achos dros edrych ar unrhyw elfen o wasanaethau'r BBC sydd ddim yn cwrdd â'r gofynion. Felly, os oes yna dystiolaeth—. Allwn ni ddim fynd yn ôl blynyddoedd—nid oes gyda ni'r gallu i wneud hynny—ond gallwn ni ddelio gyda nawr. Fel mae'n digwydd, am wn i, nid oes dim cwyn wedi'i dderbyn eto, a heb gwynion, mae'n llawer anoddach—

Well, there is a case for looking at any element of BBC services that doesn't meet the requirements. So, if there is evidence—. We cannot go back years—we don't have the ability to do that—but we can deal with the here and now. As it happens, as far as I'm aware, we haven't received a complaint yet, and without receiving those complaints, then it's far more difficult—

Well, let me be the first then: perhaps you could take away my comments and reflect on them.

Fe wnawn ni hynny â chroeso.

We will certainly do that.

Diolch yn fawr. Symud rŵan tuag at radio cymunedol a chwestiynau gan Jenny.

Thank you very much. Moving on now to community radio, and we have questions from Jenny.

Thank you. We currently have nine community radios across Wales, with two new ones that you've awarded licences for in Aberystwyth and the Rhondda. Could you just explain to us what are the limitations on the amount of commercial income that they can raise in order to deliver the service?

Yes, I can answer that. So, community radio stations have—. About three years ago, there was a new—. Again the DCMS consulted on slightly reducing the existing restrictions. So, every community radio station can now take up to £15,000 a year in commercial income, regardless of where they are. On top of that, there are potentially limits depending on whether or not you're overlapping with what's defined as a small commercial radio station. So, the restrictions were always put in place as a protection for the smaller commercial radio stations. So, essentially, where a community radio station overlaps with a commercial radio station of a particular size—I'm afraid this gets quite complicated—but also—

12:00

Okay, so in areas where there's not such a great population is what you're talking about, yes?

Yes. It also depends on whether or not that station is sharing programmes with another one. So, essentially, the commercial radio stations that the rules are trying to protect are the smallest stand-alone commercial radio stations, obviously whose revenue potential is the lowest. So, in those areas, community radio stations are restricted. Elsewhere, there aren't really any restrictions, although, I think, as our annual communications market report shows, I think the average income for community radio stations is only about £30,000 or £40,000 a year, for commercial radio anyway.

It just would be really helpful to have that data on the community radio stations and what they are raising. I presume it gets declared and you have that sort of information available.

We collect that information annually from all stations. What we publish are stats for the whole sector, rather than individual stations' data.

It's just that that would help us to understand the extent to which they're either achieving it or hitting their target or—it doesn't really matter what the target is if they're not really getting very close to it, anyway.

I haven't got the figures to hand but—

—I'm fairly confident in saying that most community radio stations don't even hit the target.

Unfortunately, I think there are prohibitions on us sharing information that we've collected in pursuance of our functions. There's a piece of law that says we go to jail if we do that. So, unfortunately, we're not allowed to share financial information that we have collected from licensees in pursuance of our functions, which is why, in our annual report, we are only able to publish it in abstract across the sector. We can't publish individual stations' financial data. That covers all of our licensees.

I understand the need to protect small new commercial stations, but why do we need to have such constraints when we've got large enterprises like Nation who have six stations across Wales, and they're obviously sharing a lot of their content? So, why is it essential that they don't have a little bit of competition from community radio?

So, I think the broad answer to your question is: I'm afraid that's a question for DCMS and not for Ofcom. I think it's worth saying, in terms of Nation radio—and that's the point I made before—that because they are sharing programmes, it means they're no longer protected, as they once would have been, if they'd all been separate stations. So, in other words, community radio stations that do overlap with those stations can take more than £15,000 if they are able to.

Okay. Because I think one of the anxieties here is that, if you have complete deregulation of commercial radio, they'll just be able to pump out junk food adverts 24 hours a day, compared with the community radio stations that are providing local news for social gain. I mean, that is in their remit. So, I wondered if you could just say a little bit more about what impact that complete deregulation is going to have on the community radios.

So, I think it's worth saying it's obviously not complete deregulation because, as I said before—

—commercial radio will still be required to deliver local news, local weather, local travel. And I believe the Government has also said they want that to be locally made. So, in other words, they can't pump it in from somewhere else, which, actually, is a change to some stations that do that currently. So, in other words, that's an increase in regulation. So, in what is, overall, a set of deregulatory initiatives, there are actually some areas where there will be an increase in regulation.

In terms of local news, I think what we found, over the years, is actually doing local news well and doing it properly is quite expensive and quite difficult. Community radio stations, on the whole, struggle to provide a good local news service. They deliver social gain in all sorts of other ways and provide training and volunteering and all that sort of stuff. Doing local news is actually quite difficult, which is why I think there's an intention to maintain a regulation on commercial radio to do it on the basis that commercial radio should have the funding ability to actually provide proper local journalism in a way that community radio might struggle to do.

12:05

Yes, I mean, obviously, gathering news is an expensive operation. Could you just tell us about the proposals to allow Ofcom to license small-scale DAB? Do you see that as a way of enabling a wider coverage for community radio?

Yes, absolutely. I think small-scale DAB is a terrific idea, actually invented by one of my colleagues in Ofcom who came up with the technical idea for it. What small-scale DAB will allow, hopefully, and we're in a process working with DCMS on that as well, is where there is interest and demand, it will enable smaller stations, both community and commercial, but particularly community radio, to broadcast on DAB across whatever geographical areas they choose, and there will be spectrum available throughout the UK, a number of frequencies, to enable that. Obviously, it depends on—someone has to run a multiplex, which I understand was explained earlier on, so hopefully I won't have to explain multiplex.

Okay, so the private Member's Bill that was supported by the DCMS, what has happened to that? Is that about to become law?

It is law. It became law last year. All that did was give the UK Government a power to make a small-scale DAB framework by Order. So, in other words, it was just a power-giving law.

Well, it's enabled DCMS to get on with it, which they are. So, at the moment, they have an open consultation on a number of policy issues relating to the implementation of small-scale DAB, which I think closes at the end of February. We are obviously following that closely. I believe the timetable for that, as it's secondary legislation—hopefully, we should be able to do that quicker than we can do deregulation. The Government will have to lay on Order at some point, which sets out the statutory framework for small-scale DAB. The plan is that we, Ofcom, would consult alongside the Order on how we would implement the Order, assuming it gets through Parliament, so that once it does get through Parliament, hopefully, we're in a position to start licensing services as early as we can. But that's probably not going to be for at least another year, I wouldn't have thought.

Okay. So, what role do you have in regulating community radio, if any?

We are the regulator of community radio. So, we license the services and we grant the licences and we regulate them to make sure they comply with the conditions in their licences. They all have to comply with standards regulation like all other services do—the broadcasting code. Community radio also has—we don't call them formats; we call them key commitments, which is a set of things that they proposed they would do when they applied for their licence. We write those into their licence, we require them to do them, we mention their financial arrangements—because of the financial rules we have to check they're complying with those too—and so we have a continuing and quite interventionist role in regulating community radio.