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Newsnight Wales

This is an article for ymgyrch NEWSNIGHT CYMRU campaign

I am often taken aback when I take a visit abroad and get a flavour of what many other nations are serving up as 'news'. We can count ourselves lucky that the BBC is an institution that we can all be proud of. Newsnight, in particular, is a programme that not only informs on a relatively consistent basis, but also presents its programmes in an interesting manner. However, I doubt you will find a single person who argues that either the BBC or Newsnight is perfect; of course they are not. There is always room for improvement and that is something the BBC must strive to achieve.

One of the six public purposes set out by the Royal Charter and Agreement, the constitutional basis for the BBC as presented to Parliament, is that BBC viewers and listeners should be able to rely on the BBC to reflect the many communities that exist in the UK. Despite its excellent journalism, few in Wales could accept that Newsnight achieves this purpose on a nightly basis. In fact, while watching, it often feels as if devolution barely exists. Rarely is it made clear that an issue is actually only relevant to England, while at the same time it is even rarer for the focus to be solely on a devolved issue in Wales. There is much to praise about Newsnight, but its coverage of Wales isn't one amongst them.

It is easy to criticise and point out what seems to be obvious mistakes made on Welsh issues. However, that is not enough. Recently my Welsh Liberal Democrat colleague Eluned Parrott and I tabled a Statement of the Opinion in the National Assembly calling for the BBC to commission a Welsh Newsnight on the same basis as Newsnight Scotland, to ensure that Welsh politicians in the Senedd, Westminster and in local government are better held toaccount.

Wales' political system is crying out for more coverage. With further powers soon to be devolved to the National Assembly, extra focus on Wales is more important than ever before. Further scrutiny is healthy for democracy; it not only empowers people, but it improves governance too. The people of Wales deserve better scrutiny of the big decisions that affect them on a daily basis. That is why this campaign is so essential and why the BBC must take action to introduce a Newsnight Wales.

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