I'm the Hen Ferchetan. This is my take on the world through the eyes of Wales. While mostly about Welsh politics (that most famous of dour topics!) I try to scatter some humour around, but I doubt anyone but me will find it funny! Have a read, and if it bores you then feel free to never come back!

Friday, 22 February 2008

End of the World

Yes the title of this post is so very unoriginal, yes every part of the Welsh media have already used it and so has most blogs, but it's a good title so I'm sticking to it!

It refers of course to the premature death of Y Byd, the Welsh language Daily Newspaper that never got to publish. The company who had been touting the paper for over a year finally announced that it could not do so, mainly due to what it saw as a pitiful grant offer from the Welsh Assembly Government, more specifically from Plaid Minister Rhodri Glyn.

While the inner workings of a coalition government means that the decision to offer only a third of what Y Byd said it needed must have been joint between Labour and Plaid, as Culture Minister Rhodri Glyn was always going to be the man in the firing line, and rightly so.

This is Plaid's first real taste of the bad side of power. When you make unpopular decisions, you will, unsuprisingly, become unpopular! I've heard a lot of people saying that any state funding of a newspaper is undesirable, I disagree. As long as every effort is made to show that the paper is nwholly independent editorially then I would not be too concerned. After all, most of the private papers we have in the UK are slanted enough without state funding!

Let's be honest, £600k out of the Assembly's budget is far from huge, and that's why the decision to offer something not even close to it is so confusing. A Welsh language daily was part of Plaid's manifesto and, even more importantly, it was in the One Wales Government document.

So what happened? Hell if I know. Was Plaid trying to make themself look like a party of government by being tough. Was Plaid trying too hard to not pander to their core supporters? Whatever it was, it's made a lot of their voters angry with them.

While both governing parties, especially Plaid, have a lot to answer for, so do Welsh speakers. While every Welsh speaker I know wanted Y Byd, very few subscribed to it (Y Byd asked for advance subscriptions). I, along with many others I'm sure, may regret that now, but I'm still not convinced that a daily paper dependant on subscriptions would survive. And that's where Y Byd was always in trouble. Most people buy their Dailes in the shop. I read papers during lunch, something I could not do if my paper was delivered to my home. While those in the so called Welsh language heartlands would probably have no trouble finding a copy in their local newsagent, are we really to believe that demand would be strong enough in places like Newport or Monmouth that it would be stocked anywhere?

The whole saga leaves us with a Hobson's choice. Either there will be no Daily, or one will be published by Trinity Mirror, who has a near enough monopoly over all our English language papers let alone Welsh ones!

No comments: