Thursday, 17 September 2009

Digital television switchover 'must not threaten Welsh programmes'

The coming digital television switchover must not mean fewer people in north-east Wales receiving Welsh channels, says North Wales Assembly Member Janet Ryder.

The Plaid Cymru AM (pictured with BBC Wales digital expert Melfyn Clwyd Roberts) raised her concerns after being contacted by many constituents who rely on the relay New Broughton transmitter near Wrexham for their signal.They have been told by installers that there is no guarantee of Welsh channels being available after the digital switchover.

Janet Ryder said:

"Getting Welsh channels in certain areas of the north east has been a problem for years and the New Broughton relay transmitter has been vital to providing S4C, BBC Wales and ITV Wales in the area surrounding Wrexham and Rhos. I was concerned to hear of elderly people in particular being told that the switchover would mean no Welsh channels - something many people feel passionate about, whether it's to watch the football and rugby, Welsh-language programmes or get the news about their area rather than Cumbria or the West Midlands.

"Since then, I have approached both S4C and BBC Wales, which is running the information and help service for over-75s in Wales, and have been given assurances by both that people currently receiving Welsh channels will continue to receive them after the digital switchover. I have stressed that perhaps that message is not being taken up by some of their contractors who are telling people that they will have to tune into Winter Hill in Lancashire.

"As the switchover takes place next month, this is something we will continue to monitor to ensure that people aren't left stranded without their favourite programmes and channels."

She asked people who were being told they wouldn't receive Welsh programmes to contact her directly on 01824 704 625 or

She added that the switchover was a wider opportunity to ensure that people in this part of Wales were able to finally access Welsh channels and would be campaigning with the broadcasters to ensure that everyone who wanted Welsh channels had the chance to get them.

She said: "All broadcasters are competing for viewers and I want to make sure that all viewers have the maximum choice. I know many people feel very strongly that they can't watch their own football and rugby teams or get Welsh news programmes because they don't have access to a signal. We will be campaigning for equal access for all."

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