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An appalling howler on one of Wales’ premier TV news outlets which was featured in an English newspaper, has put further pressure on the station’s contentious head after revelations on The Eye that his staff are angry they have still not moved into their new £100 million headquarters two years after it was handed over and before the lockdown was imposed.
Two days ago BBC Wales Today used a picture of Brighton Pavilion during its 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.
BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) said sorry, but not before angry Twitter users complained.
One said: “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?”.
Another wrote furiously: “Not happy they’ve used a shot of Brighton Pavilion as though it’s a mosque (presumably)”.
Brighton Pavilion was a seaside retreat built for King George IV and was transformed from a modest farmhouse into what it is today from 1787 to 1822.
It was designed by John Nash, in an ornate Indian style, and is known throughout the world.
A prominent figure who has been described on Wikipedia as one of the most important presenters on BBC Cymru Wales Radio Wales (BBC CW RW) at the beginning, Mike Flynn, said: “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”.
“Vast sums of money have been spent on low quality output. The buck stops with the poor management who are public servants.”
But this has not been the first controversy to have engulfed BBC CW or its director Rhodri Talfan Davies.
BBC CW received the keys to its 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 staff 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’ own 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.
“I thought they would have been in there by now!”.
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 CW RW.
One listener was told: “We are not… obliged to supply information…”.
The relationship of the Editor of BBC CW RW Colin Paterson with television and radio presenter Lucy Owen, (who also fronted the Wales Today ‘Brighton Pavilion’ mistake), had caused huge disquiet among media people both inside and outside BBC CW.
Ms Owen has hosted ‘Sunday Morning with Lucy Owen’ on BBC CW Radio Wales 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 Radio Cymru (BBC RC) as well as the Welsh language online service, Cymru Fyw, and this too officials were not ‘open’ about.
Officials were forced to be ‘open’ about featuring Brighton Pavilion as a mosque on Wales Today when it is actually a well-known historical building – they could hardly be otherwise after the Brighton Argus picked up on it…
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