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Devolved Governments call for change at BBC

12 February, 2016 - by Carál Ní Chuilín

Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has joined with her counterparts from Scotland and Wales to call on the BBC to ensure it properly represents all jurisdictions, regions and communities.

The Ministers agreed that the Westminster Government must honour its agreed obligation to the devolved administrations on charter renewal, and that they will work together to ensure the process of BBC Charter renewal reflects and prioritises their shared interests

DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Welsh Deputy Minister for Culture Ken Skates questioned Rhys Evans, Head of Strategy and Digital, BBC Cymru Wales, Peter Johnston, Director, BBC NI and Ken McQuarrie, Director, BBC Scotland, about the future of the BBC by videoconference. Secretary of the BBC, Phil Harrold, also participated in the videoconference.

The Ministers made clear they expect more from the BBC on issues including representation, governance, commissioning of local content, funding and broadcasting in Scots Gaelic, Welsh and Irish.

And they renewed their pledge to work together to:

· hold the Westminster Government and the BBC to account for the continued delivery of the public service broadcasting principles on which the BBC was founded

· continue to ensure each devolved administration is guaranteed a formal, consultative role in developing reviewing and agreeing the new BBC Charter

· ensure the Westminster Government and BBC provide for a truly representative service to all the jurisdictions, regions and communities 

· ensure the BBC’s clear obligation to provide services for all of its communities, is fully met in relation to English and indigenous language broadcasting

· push the BBC to take a more representative approach to commissioning, talent development and production from and for all the jurisdictions and regions.

After the meeting, Minister Ní Chuilín said: 

“I believe that the three jurisdictions have many areas of common interest and have jointly made a strong case for change to the BBC. For too long there has been underrepresentation in BBC broadcasting in the north of Ireland for those who consider themselves to be of Irish nationality and, just as importantly, those who speak Irish and who have the right to see and hear content in Irish. Furthermore, I agree with my counterparts in Scotland and Wales that the BBC in each area must commission more locally made and focussed content, and that the broadcaster must put in place more accountable and fit-for-purpose governance systems, which include adequate and fair representation from each jurisdiction. 

“I hope that the BBC has taken on board our concerns, which reflect the views of the people we represent, and will take appropriate action to address them.”

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