Wales

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The big issue for the Advisory Committee for Wales is coverage, be it in telecommunications or broadcast media. 

The issue is driven by the absence of profitable commercial forces to provide citizens and businesses with the benefits of broadcast plurality and fast communications whether ‘on the move’ or at premises.

Mobile coverage for customers ‘on the move’ in Wales is poor.  It is made worse by the absence of roaming (other than for emergencies) and the absence of ‘use it or lose it’ clauses in mobile licences. 

Work needed to better understand problems faced by consumers
BBC online story

Wales is not making the most of a £425m contract to roll out superfast broadband in rural areas, according to the former head of BT in Wales.

John Davies, who is now Chair of Ofcom's Advisory Committee for Wales, says more needs to be spent on marketing the project, which is heavily backed with public money.

Mr Davies said the project was transformative but more needed to be done to make people aware of when it is rolled out in their communities to encourage demand for the high-speed broadband.

Superfast Cymru scheme replaces copper lines with fibre cables
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Ofcom today (20thFeb) announced its decision to renew the licences for Channel 3 and 5 for a further 10-year period starting on the first of January 2015.

For Channel 3 this means ITV for England and Wales, STV in Scotland and UTV in Northern Ireland.

There is one change in the geographical areas for which the licence will be issued. On renewal, Ofcom will create a separate licence for Wales for the first time. This means that Wales is separated from England and a new west and south west of England licence will be created.

Recognises the reality of a devolved Wales
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Russell George (@russ_george) was elected as the Welsh Conservative AM for Montgomeryshire in 2011. He owns a retail business in Newtown town centre. He was elected to Powys County Council in 2008. He is the chair of the Assembly’s Cross Party Group for Digital Communication and Shadow Minister for Agriculture & Natural Resources.

Heightened political interest in communications issues
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Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Wales (ACW) feels that it is an opportune time to re-examine Channel 4’s remit and its meaning.

While Channel 4 attempts to address the portrayal of ethnic and sexual minorities, as well as disabled people, we believe that the concept of ‘a culturally diverse society’ does not adequately demonstrate the need for the Channel to reflect the cultural diversity of all the component countries of the UK.

UK nations' diversity not properly represented in channel's output
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The Ofcom Advisory Committee for Wales has recently submitted a response to the DCMS consultation on media ownership and plurality to provide our views on how we create and maintain a plurality of media voices in Wales and the other nations of the UK.

The devolved nations represent distinct democratic units within the UK, with their own democratic institutions. Therefore, media plurality in news and current affairs plays a vital role in ensuring a well-functioning democratic society in these nations.

NATIONS ANGLE

Diversity as important as market share
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Following the merger of Orange and T-Mobile to form Everything Everywhere (EE), there was in many cases an initial improvement in coverage and signal strength as EE enabled their customers to roam via both sets of masts.  

However, this has been followed by consolidation/rationalisation of masts, decommissioning many masts and moving equipment to other masts which were considered to provide adequate cover. 

Consumers left hanging on the line
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It is not necessarily one of the most high-profile functions that Ofcom carries out, but it is nevertheless basic to Ofcom's core purpose. The licensing regime for commercial and community radio stations across the UK is part of the nitty-gritty of regulating broadcasting, and I have just been introduced to how the process works for applications from Wales – along with Ofcom's Director for Wales, Elinor Williams – as a first-time member of Ofcom’s Radio Licensing Committee.

Language divides and unites us all
internet

The following remarks were delivered by Professor Patrick Barwise at the Westminster Media Forum on 6 March 2012. I am posting this version with his permission.

Today, I want to focus on getting people online. I’d like to propose that getting people online faster than in other countries should be a key part of our vision for 2020.

Guest Post from Professor Patrick Barwise on how to drive online adoption.
Broadband Networks

National and local governments worldwide are developing plans to roll out government-owned broadband networks. The capabilities of next-generation networks are seen as an important ingredient for economic recovery, which is much needed during this period of economic uncertainty. However, governments are not stimulating broadband provision for purely economic reasons.

Franck Chevalier explains the different models available for private sector involvement in government-led broadband projects, and why commercial operators should see this as an opportunity.
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