Thursday 9 November 2023

Welsh Language, Its Survival and the Role of Broadcasting

The first BBC broadcast from Cardiff took place in 1923. Since - more or less - then, the broadcasting industry has included Welsh elements. A national broadcasting sector in Wales emerged, with Welsh channels and BBC Cymro Wales (two televistion channels, three radio stations) being the main public service broadcaster there. There is also S4C, the only Welsh-language TV channel.

The public service broadcasting (PSB) model is built on channels with "a distinctive and strong Welsh flavour" and is "an important asset for the Welsh population". Welsh broadcasting is vulnerable to the changing patterns of media consumption taking place on a global level. The PSB's decline (due to the changes in broadcasting and the tougher environment) threatens the foundations of Welsh broadcasting. Digital platforms, video-on-demand, more choice and competition but also developments in audience patterns have changed the media landscape. Some criticise streaming services for hardly offering local content and point out the lack of cultural references and regional accents in Netflix programmes that are produced in the United Kingdom. As a consequence, Welsh lives and experiences are not represented. And the more the global perspective of streamers dominates, the more Welsh-language broadcasting will be marginalised (via). 

Quoting The Guardian:

One of Europe’s oldest languages will only thrive if its place on radio and TV is retained and its online presence greatly expanded. (...) Welsh has largely been a success story over the past 40 years, greatly helped by the launch in 1982 of S4C – a free-to-air television channel aimed at Welsh speakers. S4C was crucial in revitalising the language and making it relevant to a rapidly changing Wales. But how much longer will that be the case? (via)

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photographs of Richard Burton (The Villain, 1971) via