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A prominent figure described as one of the main presenters at the launch of Wales’ only national English-language radio station has renewed his call for senior executives at BBC Wales to resign following the release of the latest audience numbers which show a continued downward spiral, The Eye can disclose.
The statistics for listeners to BBC Cymru Wales Radio Wales (BBC CW RW) reveal a slight increase on this time last year but a drop on two years ago, a massive decline on the year before that, and how 40,000 listeners have been lost in the previous three months, despite the huge amount of money which has been spent on new schedules.
RAJAR figures show that the total listening hours are 2,667,000, down from 3,074,000 in September, but up from 2,147,000 in December 2018.
Mike Flynn, was deeply unimpressed.
He said: “Both of these so called media executives (Rhodri Talfan Davies the Director of BBC CW and Colin Paterson the Editor of BBC CW RW) are answerable to the public who pay their salaries via the licence fee.
“But they are frightened to reveal the audience for the abysmal Claire Summers programme that replaced Good Morning Wales (GMW) last May.
Yet this is not the first time Mr Paterson has been engulfed by controversy.
The programme she presented was called ‘Sunday morning with Lucy Owen’, and media executives both inside and outside the corporation have told us that they are worried about their partnership’s possible impact on the process.
The ‘predictive search results’ in ‘Google’ for Ms Owen and her husband Rhodri have been, perhaps, prescient.
They have said ‘Lucy Owen Rhodri Owen split’, and knowledge of the affair is widespread in media circles.
Mr Flynn was also extremely alarmed by our revelations of this disturbing situation.
He told us: “If Paterson has been having an affair with a Wales Today and Radio Wales presenter it brings his management skills in to question and he needs to be suspended immediately.”
The recent RAJAR listening statistics have also raised enormous questions for Mr Paterson.
There has been a huge shake up in the line up at BBC CW RW as he has struggled to combat audience figures which have been at a record low.
He has described the new line up as a “creative challenge” and the RAJARs have made the scale of the challenge clear, revealing that his station had an average weekly audience of just 317,000 listeners in one three month period.
Among the changes that were announced in a bid to stem the tide of disastrous listening figures was the new breakfast programme hosted by different presenters on Monday to Thursday, to Fridays and Saturdays.
One contributor to the Digital Spy online forum has said in the past that ‘Breakfast with Claire Summers‘: “… sounds like a community radio station bloody awful. Woman presenter has a grating voice and is fluffing her lines. Morning news programme should contain news”.
BBC CW RW listeners who contributed to the forum were equally scathing about today’s RAJAR figures.
One said: “I do get the impression that Ulster and Scotland do a good job of being part of their country’s internal conversation. I’m not sure that Radio Wales has the same status.”
The Deputy Economy Minister in Wales Lee Waters AM has said publicly he is worried by what is happening and that there should be ‘serious’ and ‘challenging’ journalism, and objected to the decision to drop the GMW programme.
Mr Waters (himself a former producer on GMW) said the changes meant there would be “no serious news programme” broadcast at breakfast time.
His comments echo statements on Twitter when he has called for more ‘challenging’ journalism.
He quoted approvingly a call for “… serious, challenging journalism and consistently high-quality radio programmes which make politicians nervous…”
He has tweeted to BBC CW after the new schedule was announced: “Really concerned about this – absolutely nothing against Claire, but plenty against magazine format. We need agenda-setting news & scrutiny in this slot. You’re a national public service broadcaster. Where else are we going to get it?”.
The objections of Mr Waters have now been adopted by the Welsh Government.
He has expressed concern at the changes to Ofcom, which is the external regulator of the BBC’s television, radio and on-demand programmes.
He said: “We feel that as a public service broadcaster, with a duty under its latest charter to reflect the nations, that they have an obligation to provide serious news and scrutiny. Just as BBC Scotland and BBC network do”.
But BBC CW remains fully behind the controversial changes to the RW schedule, saying it was “committed to delivering news to the widest audience”.
Apart from presenting BBC Wales Today and the RW programme, Ms Owen also hosts the BBC One Wales (BBCW) consumer affairs programme ‘X-Ray’ with her husband, Rhodri, who it’s predicted she will split from.
She has published a book which raises funds for the Noah’s Ark Charity for the Children’s Hospital of Wales called ‘Boo-a-bog In The Park’.
She proclaimed: “The story is about how a little boy gets though a situation that is challenging for him with the help of an imaginary friend. But it’s all about finding any way through a difficult time or situation.
“It’s been a real family affair, with Rhod translating, and Gabs (eight year old son) came up with idea for Boo-a-bog fun and games at the end of the book. And the link to the charity as well makes it extra special for us. The theme of the story feels a good fit with the charity.”
Perhaps Mr Paterson’s ‘affair’ is not a ‘good fit’ with the latest audience figures…
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