Funding shortfall forces Welsh paper plans to be scrapped

Plans to publish the first national daily newspaper in the Welsh language have been scrapped, it was announced today.

Y Byd – The World – had been due to be launched next month.

But Dyddiol Cyf, the company behind the newspaper, said there was insufficient funding for the project to continue.

Ned Thomas, the company’s chairman, claimed the Assembly Government was not fulfilling its commitment to expanding funding and support for Welsh-language press.

But the Assembly Government responded by saying it was making “the single largest commitment ever” to this sector in terms of public money.

Heritage Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas said last week he would hand out an extra £200,000 a year over the next three years in support of the Welsh-language press.

This was in addition to the £525,000 currently being spent.

His announcement followed an Assembly Government-commissioned review last month which concluded there was no evidence a Welsh-language daily was viable.

A 3 March launch for Y Byd was put on hold until the Assembly Government announced its plans.

Dyddiol Cyf’s chairman said today: “In light of the Assembly Government’s recent statement on the funding of the Welsh press, it will not be possible for Dyddiol Cyf to establish a Welsh-language daily newspaper.

“Even though Dyddiol Cyf has not so far presented its full business plan to the Assembly Government, it was absolutely clear to the Government that an annual grant of as little as £200,000 would be insufficient to establish a Welsh-language daily newspaper.”

He said the company was “firmly of the opinion” that the minister’s decision did not meet a commitment in the Assembly Government’s One Wales document to expand funding and support for Welsh-medium magazines and newspapers, including the establishment of a daily newspaper in Welsh.

A spokeswoman for the minister said: “We have made an extra £200,000 a year available for a new Welsh-language newspaper and we believe that this will make a significant contribution in providing the foundation for a new service either in print or through the use of new media.”

She said: “We need ideas for projects that are innovative and sustainable, but which also address our primary objective of increasing the numbers of people who read in Welsh – specifically young people.”

Y Byd would have been based in Machynlleth, mid Wales, employing 24 full-time staff.

Thomas said the board of Dyddiol Cyf was considering a number of other positive ideas which could give a much-needed boost to the Welsh press.

He paid tribute to Y Byd’s editor, Aled Price, who resigned following the minister’s announcement.

“We would like to thank him very much for his work, and his dedication to the establishment of a Welsh-language daily newspaper,” Thomas said.

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