BBC Cymru Wales has revealed wide-ranging plans to enhance its services across Wales, with the creation of 40 new jobs and a major shake-up of its news, television and mobile services.
BBC Wales Director Rhodri Talfan Davies said a £10.5m package of changes - including the £8.5m of new funding announced by the BBC earlier this year would ensure the broadcaster was fit for the challenge of serving audiences of all ages in a fast-changing media landscape and reflecting a devolved Wales. It’s the biggest single investment in Welsh services for over 20 years.
“Our audiences are changing fast. And we are too. This package of editorial changes will ensure BBC Wales is a bold and ambitious broadcaster for the whole nation, young and old.
“We’ll be strengthening our traditional services, building the impact of our journalism to reflect the realities of devolution, delivering a television service of real ambition and variety, and helping to reinvent the BBC for a new generation.
News and Sport
As part of the changes, BBC Wales says it will create an additional 25 posts across its news and sport teams over the next two years to strengthen the organisation’s coverage of key issues and stories affecting communities across Wales.
News and sport services across online, mobile and social will also be strengthened with a focus on reaching younger audiences, and BBC Wales will expand its specialist correspondent team to provide greater expert coverage in important areas such as social affairs, home affairs and under-represented communities.
BBC Wales will establish a new Brexit team – working between Cardiff, Westminster and Brussels – to cover this major unfolding story. And a new current affairs strand, BBC Wales Investigates, will deliver major investigations across television, radio and mobile.
BBC Wales will also introduce a new short bulletin at 8pm on weeknights on BBC One Wales, produced in Cardiff, covering global, UK and Welsh stories for the first time. The new bulletin is expected to reach over 300,000 viewers aged under 45 each week. The late evening Wales Today bulletin will also be extended to provide the fullest possible coverage of Welsh news on BBC One.
The expansion of news output on BBC One Wales follows a recent announcement by BBC Wales that it will also launch a monthly debate programme on BBC One to reflect a fast-changing political landscape. This is in addition to BBC Wales’ weekly political series.
As part of this commitment to strengthen Welsh journalism, BBC Wales has also announced plans to provide new training opportunities to over 250 people over the next two years, including an additional 20 trainee and apprenticeship placements with the organisation. The development scheme will be focused on attracting people from under-represented communities.
Television, BBC iPlayer and mobile
BBC Wales has also detailed how new funding announced in February by the Director-General Tony Hall as part of the BBC’s new 11-year Charter will transform its television and social media services.
The new funding will support a major expansion in drama, comedy and landmark factual programming.
Next year will see the biggest ever slate of English-language TV drama set in Wales - with three major drama series currently being shot in Newport, Carmarthenshire and north west Wales set to be aired on the BBC in 2018. These include Keeping Faith starring Eve Myles and Requiem starring Lydia Wilson and Richard Harrington. A new network drama commissioner for Wales, Chris Aird, has also been appointed to ensure Wales is better reflected on screen.
“We’re putting entertainment right at the heart of our plans – and we have an exciting range of new comedy and drama projects in the pipeline with some of our nation’s biggest and brightest talents. We’re going to show viewers there’s more than one way for BBC Wales to get under the skin of modern Wales,” said Rhodri Talfan Davies.
“Audiences in Wales already rate the BBC more highly than any other UK nation, but this is an unprecedented opportunity to deepen our connection with viewers and listeners in every part of the nation.”
The plans will deliver a 50% increase in television and short-form content investment over the next two years with at least 2-3 hours of additional programming available each week on BBC One Wales, BBC Two Wales and a BBC Wales on-demand channel on BBC iPlayer. The new investment is expected to support the equivalent of over 100 full-time jobs across Wales’ independent sector.
The new funding will also support the development of new BBC short-form content for BBC iPlayer and social media. BBC Wales will partner with BBC Scotland, who has innovated with social media hub The Social to develop a similar platform for younger audiences in Wales. It will provide a new platform for a diverse mix of new voices in talents in both Welsh and English.