In reporting on the proposed new charter for the BBC, the Western Mail chose to lead with the proposal that Wales would be guaranteed a place on the new BBC board. How nice for Wales – another opportunity for a Welsh voice to participate in discussions before being over-ruled by the majority from England. (Unless, of course, the chosen representative is carefully selected to be the sort of person who won’t make waves in the first place.)
It’s an obvious attempt to find a ‘safe’ Welsh angle on the news by another organisation not particularly well-known for making waves either. But I didn’t think that it was the most significant element of the announcement from a Welsh perspective. For that, we have to go further down the report, until we reach the part where the UK Culture Secretary said that one of the BBC’s “many responsibilities” was to “bring people together” and support “greater cohesion, not least among the nations of the United Kingdom.”
Now the quaint idea that many have that the BBC is somehow an ‘impartial’ reporter of events has never been true; it has always been the tool of the establishment, presenting all news from an establishment viewpoint. But it seems to me that this is taking that lack of impartiality one stage further; this is giving the BBC an explicit responsibility to act as a tool for one particular outlook, and promote the idea that the nations of the UK are a homogeneous whole. It says a lot about the self-styled “national newspaper of Wales” that it treats that as almost an addendum to the glorious news about us having a representative who can always be outvoted.We need a better media than this in Wales; and in the field of broadcasting, the BBC needs to be broken up into an EBC, a WBC, a SBC and a NIBC, each with its own charter decided by the relevant devolved parliament. And the sooner that happens the better.