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Commercial Radio: Wales

Volume 660: debated on Thursday 23 May 2019

10. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Wales on the regulation of commercial radio in Wales. (911075)

We continue to support the growth of radio services in Wales. A number of new community and digital stations have launched in recent years, including those offering programmes in the Welsh language. The BBC has also improved its Radio Wales FM coverage and last year it launched BBC Radio Cymru 2.

I thank the Minister for that answer. She alludes to Wales as a proud bilingual nation. At present, Ofcom has no power to introduce safeguards in relation to the provision of Welsh language content when awarding licences. Given that existing localness requirements may be weakened as radio transfers to DAB, does the Minister not agree that the regulator should now be empowered to ensure the Welsh language is not abandoned in the process?

We are very committed to programmes in minority languages. We have launched a new audio content fund and we expect 5% of that fund to be devoted to Welsh and Gaelic programming. I urge the hon. Gentleman to be cautious about mandating programmes in minority languages, because we have to balance that with overall choice. He needs to bear in mind that with the Radio Ceredigion application, which I know he supported, Nation Radio was the only applicant to replace it. By stipulating more and more regulations, we might reduce overall choice.