Why Wales Failed the Network Screen Test; on the Day That Carlton and Granada Sealed a Prospective Merger Deal, the Independent Television Commission Published a New Report on Regional Broadcasting in Britain. in an Extract from Television in the Nations and Regions, Geraint Talfan Davies Considers the Past, Present and Future

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 17, 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Why Wales Failed the Network Screen Test; on the Day That Carlton and Granada Sealed a Prospective Merger Deal, the Independent Television Commission Published a New Report on Regional Broadcasting in Britain. in an Extract from Television in the Nations and Regions, Geraint Talfan Davies Considers the Past, Present and Future


Byline: Geraint Talfan Davies

THE UK has an honourable history in local and regional broadcasting, but there is no doubting that it has been dominated by powerful centralising forces.

In the BBC, despite its roots in local provision, Lord Reith's central and centralising vision persisted and all networks have been controlled and commissioned centrally from London. In ITV, despite its origins in regional companies, the network quickly became dominated by the companies from bigger areas. In the 1980s the breakfast franchise and Channel 4, and in the 1990s Channel 5, were all established as central services from London. There has never been any attempt in the UK to create and sustain non-metropolitan structures for UK services, such as exist in Germany and Scandinavia.

Centralised organisation has been accompanied by a centralised cultural mindset. The notion of regional production centres, for anything other than programmes for the local audience, is often regarded as a tire-some parochialism, out of tune with markets and industry economics.

In the BBC in the early 1990s 97pc of all network output was made in England, with about 81pc in London and Elstree. It was John Birt, then Director General, who first spotted this imbalance, described it as untenable, and pledged the BBC to produce ``broadly a third'' of its network output from outside the South-East.

Some years later Channel 4 followed with a similar statistical commitment and the opening of an office in Glasgow to encourage productions from Scotland and Wales - although it collapsed a post specifically dealing with Wales.

ITV has had a better track record in the distribution of production, although consolidation of ownership has also led to a significant geographical consolidation. The Granada-Carlton merger could give this an uncomfortable, extra twist.

Implementation of these policies has had mixed success. In the BBC it was unfortunate that implementa-tion began in the most unfavourable circumstances: at the point when the real value of the licence fee had begun to decline, and when its production departments were already faced with having to accommodate the introduction of a statutory quota of independent production.

As a result production gains for the nations and regions and for independent producers, could be achieved only by inflicting pain on the London departments.

The net result was that, even after some years of this policy, the proportion of network production supplied by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was nearer five than 10pc, despite the fact that the three countries together constitute 17.5pc of the UK population.

This has now improved somewhat, given the BBC's recent increased investment in its networks, changes in the commissioning structures and the creation of joint selling arrangements by Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland.

The situation in Wales has, tradi-tionally, been weaker than that of Scotland and N. Ireland, largely because the existence of services for Wales, in both Welsh and English, has meant that the domestic production operation has tended to be a more consuming pre-occupation.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Why Wales Failed the Network Screen Test; on the Day That Carlton and Granada Sealed a Prospective Merger Deal, the Independent Television Commission Published a New Report on Regional Broadcasting in Britain. in an Extract from Television in the Nations and Regions, Geraint Talfan Davies Considers the Past, Present and Future
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?