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The BBC in Wales employs a presenter who has re-tweeted the views of a controversial commentator who endorses burning holiday homes and setting the union flag alight, it has emerged.
Contentious Rhydian Bowen Phillips is a regular fixture on BBC Cymru Wales Radio Cymru (BBC CW RC) and has re-tweeted the comments of ‘Jac Jolly’ about the Welsh language, who has also said on social media that he is proud cottages in Wales were burned down and tweeted: “The UJ should be burnt despicable rag that it is” with an emoji of a burning flame after the remark.
Mr Phillips presents on BBC CW RC at Saturday lunch time, and was a guest during the wedding of BBC Wales Today (WT) and Radio Wales (RW) presenter Lucy Owen (Cohen) to fellow X-ray host Rhodri Owen, in 2004.
He has also been reported to the Football Association of Wales (FAW) for using abusive language on social media.
The revelation seems certain to put more pressure on the Director of BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) Rhodri Talfan Davies over mis-steps in the past.
Ms Owen was presenting WT when they used a picture of Brighton Pavilion during coverage of the start of the hugely important Muslim month of Ramadan mistaking it for a mosque, and the error was then featured in the Brighton Argus.
For this mistake too, Mr Davies bears ultimate responsibility.
BBC CW said sorry, but not before angry Twitter users complained.
One said furiously: “BBC Wales showing a picture of the Brighton Pavilion and getting it confused for a mosque when talking about Ramadan is kind of f****d?”.
A prominent figure who has been described on Wikipedia as one of the most important presenters on BBC Radio Wales (BBC RW) at the beginning, Mike Flynn, said at the time: “There is no decent Current Affairs output on BBC Wales and now we have this debacle with Wales Today. It all smacks of poor leadership”.
As with this affair, our disturbing disclosure about one of Mr Davies’ presenters comes at a difficult time for him.
There has also been enormous controversy about the lengthy delay of BBC CW moving into its new £100 million headquarters – more than two years after it was handed over, and failing to do so before the lockdown was imposed (see story soon).
The Director of BBC CW received the keys to his new headquarters in April 2018, and staff were told it would take 18 months to fit out the building, but several months after that date passed, equipment was still in the ‘testing’ phase, and all the workers have still not moved in.
Officials were unable to say when broadcasting will start and the extraordinary delay is having a severe knock-on effect for other broadcasters in Wales, such as S4C which is due to have a number of desks allocated to workers.
Following the corporation taking possession of the building in Central Square, Cardiff, Mr Davies, proclaimed excitedly: “Central Square is all about opening up… the fantastic location means that we’ll be more accessible.
“As part of the drive to ‘open up’, inclusion is a key part of the design of Central Square throughout.”
But Mr Davies’ staff have told us of their dismay that the ‘opening’ has been delayed for so long.
One said earlier: “This is a complete nonsense. Two years on and we still haven’t moved down there”.
Our own Editor Phil Parry worked at the present BBC CW headquarters in Llandaff for 23 years, and said: “This is an unbelievable length of time”.
Major questions have also been raised about Mr Davies’ declaration that the new building shows how ‘open’ BBC CW is, particularly when it comes to giving information and granting interviews.
Mr Parry, was told by the Press Office in a lengthy email exchange over more than six months, that Mr Davies would be available for interview.
Question areas were provided, and the BBC CW official was told the interview could be conducted over the telephone, but Mr Parry was finally informed that an interview would not, in fact, be granted.
Officials have also clearly shown their ‘openness’ in the attitude towards queries about the listening figures for BBC RW.
One listener was told: “We are not… obliged to supply information…”.
The relationship of the Editor of BBC RW Colin Paterson with Ms Owen had caused huge disquiet among media people both inside and outside BBC CW.
She has hosted ‘Sunday Morning with Lucy Owen’ on BBC RW which had been commissioned by Mr Paterson’s staff, and is described by BBC CW as a “a vibrant Sunday morning mix of great music and conversation”.
There has also been a failure to ‘open up’ about programmes which have been scrapped in the past.
The popular TV debate series The Hour was axed after a year, and at a cost to the licence fee-payer of about a million pounds, following the disturbing decision to close the 53 year-old award-winning Welsh TV Current Affairs programme Week In, Week Out (WIWO).
Yet viewers had described The Hour as “necessary” and even BBC CW officials had admitted to The Eye it “capture(d) the mood of the nation”.
Meanwhile WIWO had won a clutch of awards including at the Royal Television Society, BAFTA Cymru, the Celtic Media ceremony and BT Wales.
It even secured an award after it had been formally closed.
The programme had also been used as a springboard for Panorama episodes, and one of the journalists’ investigations still features near the top of an internal BBC CW document recording the highest viewing figures.
There has been a lack of ‘openness’ too about the fact that the political journalist Aled ap Dafydd became Plaid Cymru’s (PC’s) Director of Political Strategy and External Relations.
This came hard on the heels of the appointment from the other direction of the former PC Chief Executive Rhuanedd Richards as Editor of BBC CW RC as well as the Welsh language online service, Cymru Fyw, and this too officials were not ‘open’ about.
Perhaps Mr Davies will be more ‘open’ about the fact that one of his presenters re-tweeted the views of a commentator who wants cottages burnt down and the union flag set on fire.
Or perhaps not…
Tomorrow – the mainstream media are congratulated for not reporting all the mistakes which have been made by BBC CW.
Phil Parry’s memories of his astonishing 36-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!
If you need something to keep the children entertained during these uncertain times (in Welsh) try Ffwlbart Ffred about the amusing stories of Ffred and his pet