Plaid Cymru and SNP manifestos call for devolution of the BBC

The SNP and Plaid Cymru have called for Scotland and Wales to have a greater share of BBC resources in their 2015 election manifestos.(Picture: Leaders' debate, Reuters)

The Welsh party has also pledged to give local newspapers the status of “community assets”, meaning that owners could not close them without “communities having the opportunity to keep their paper”.

And the SNP committed to “consider carefully the results of the first year review” on the new press regulation system and to “work with other parties, in Scotland and at Westminster, to ensure effective regulation of the media on a non-political basis”.

In recent years, Wales has been a particularly hard-hit area for local newspaper closures.

Plaid Cymru said: “We will give local newspapers the status of ‘community assets’ so that owners could not close them without communities having the opportunity to keep their paper. It is important for there to be a plurality of opinions and information sources. We will oppose any reduction in Welsh-produced news and non-news content in our media.”

The party also promised to “devolve broadcasting to Wales and implement recommendations on broadcasting made by Plaid Cymru to the Silk Commission”.

The manifesto said: “These include establishing a BBC Trust for Wales as part of a more federal BBC within the UK. Trustees would be appointed by the Welsh Government and the appointment process including public hearings held by the National Assembly for Wales.

“Responsibility for S4C, the world’s only Welsh language channel, would transfer to the National Assembly for Wales, as would the funding for the channel that is currently with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We will ensure that S4C is adequately funded and that the channel maintains editorial independence. Again, the Welsh Government should appoint the board members of the S4C Authority following public hearings.”

The manifesto added: “We support establishing a new Welsh language multimedia service to operate online, on radio and other platforms, in order to reflect the needs of Welsh language audiences and improve current affairs coverage in Wales.

“Ofcom’s office in Wales should have greater powers, including the authority to take licensing decisions. The members of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Wales should be appointed by the Welsh Government. This would be best achieved by the federalisation of the work of Ofcom in a UK context.”

On the BBC, Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP said: “We believe that responsibility for broadcasting in Scotland should transfer from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament and we will support moves to more devolved arrangements for the BBC with greater powers and funding for the different national and regional broadcasting areas, such as BBC Scotland.

“We believe that the licence fee should be retained with any replacement system, which should be based primarily on the ability to pay, in place by the end of the next BBC Charter period. “

It added: “BBC Scotland should receive a fairer share of BBC income, reflecting more accurately the licence fee revenue raised here in Scotland. This would provide a boost of over £100 million, which we believe will provide important new opportunities for production companies and the creative sector in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government and Parliament should have a substantial role at all stages in the review of the BBC Charter and we will work to ensure that any new governance arrangements for the BBC better reflect Scotland’s interests.”

On press regulation, it said: “Regulation of print media is already devolved. The Scottish Parliament chose, on a cross party basis, to support the UK Government’s actions to implement Leveson.

“We will consider carefully the results of the first year review and work with other parties, in Scotland and at Westminster, to ensure effective regulation of the media on a non-political basis.”

A full Press Gazette round-up of manifesto pledges, and general election coverage, can be found here.

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