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From Soaps To Hymn-Singing, BBC Wales Is The Pubcaster’s Most Fruitful Branch

BBC Wales is the pubcaster’s most prolific supplier outside London, producing 10 hours a week of programming for Welsh-language commercial web S4C (soaps, news, sport, drama, hymn-singing and agriculture) and another eight hours of regional fare for BBC’s two national services.

It’s also the producer of BBC’s longest-running soap, “Pobol Y Cwm” (“People Of The Valleys”), a folksy saga that first aired on BBC Wales in 1973.

The series now runs in primetime five days a week on S4C (all Welsh-language programs were transferred to the Welsh-lingo channel in 1982) and is repeated the following day with English subtitles.

S4C Enterprises, which handles distribution of BBC’s Welsh-language output, says it was a hair’s breadth away from signing a deal with a French web for the show, but was thwarted by an executive shakeout. S4C says it’s optimistic about landing a pact with a regional Spanish broadcaster.

In line with the rest of the BBC network, BBC Wales is under pressure to reduce its budget to accommodate more independent production, and to make its wages competitive with the commercial sector.

Geraint Talfan Davies, recently appointed controller of BBC Wales, is considering budget cuts of about 5%. BBC Wales employs 1,400 staffers and operates on a budget of £ 44 million ($85 million), of which £ 32 million is for tv and the rest for its two radio operations.

In recent broadcasting legislation, the government guaranteed BBC Wales’ commitment to provide 10 hours of programming a week to S4C (costs are borne out of the annual tax on tv sets).

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