Monday, 11 July 2011

A Rare Dose of Common Sense

I was very pleased to read in the Western Mail last Thursday the news that Ofcom has seen the sense to protect the legal status of the Welsh language on Radio Ceredigion last week.

As the Western Mail reported back on May 13th, the furore resulted from the application made by Radio Ceredigion's new owners Town and Country Broadcasting to cut the amount of Welsh language service that it transmits. The station is currently supposed to transmit roughly half of its content in Welsh and half in English but there have been growing concerns since the takeover in April 2010 that this service has been undercut by the back-door.

This application went against legal obligations that gave security to the Welsh language on the station that was formed back in 1992 and went further in requesting that the Welsh music output in daytime hours be reduced from 20% to 10%.

Ceryl dros Cinio
Over the years, I became a rather regular fixture on Radio Ceredigion when I'd appear every other Monday morning to give a report on behalf of Mark Williams MP of his activities in London and in the constituency.

Over the space of some 5 years, I was interviewed by many Radio Ceredigion presenters in Welsh but the most regular and the one I enjoyed the most was with Ceryl on his 'Ceryl Dros Cinio' (Ceryl Over Lunch) radio slot. More often than not, the interview was carried live (only pre-recorded on rare occasions) and over the years as we became used to each others style on the airwaves, what was an interview morphed into more of a 'fireside chat' and it was incredible the amount of local residents and friends who stopped me in the street and said that they'd heard me on the radio, fortnight in and fortnight out over the years.

When the station was taken over in April 2010 and moved down from Aberystwyth to Narberth in Pembrokeshire (where the company also run Radio Pembrokeshire and Radio Carmarthenshire), the request for a regular contribution from the Member of Parliament (and presumably also on the alternative Monday, the Assembly Member) came to an end. Maybe this was a sign of things to come?

It must certainly be said that the vibes that I have heard over the past 12 months has been one of discontent at what has been seen to be the erosion of Welsh language provision on the airwaves to such an extent that many friends I know now get their Welsh news from Radio Cymru and I must admit that my tendency has ebbed in this same direction.

Ofcom's rejection of the application made by Town and Country Broadcasting at least sends a clear signal that the protection of the Welsh language must remain a priority and should not be attacked by stealth from the sidelines.

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