Media of Wales

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The media in Wales provide services in both English and Welsh, and play a role in modern Welsh culture. BBC Wales began broadcasting in 1923 have helped to promote a form of standardised spoken Welsh,[1] and one historian has argued that the concept of Wales as a single national entity owes much to modern broadcasting.[2] The national broadcasters are based in the capital, Cardiff.

Newspapers and news magazines[edit]

History of newspapers in Wales[edit]

An 1804 front page of Wales' first weekly newspaper, The Cambrian.

The initial growth of newspaper publishing in Wales was slow in comparison to that of urban England, mainly due to distribution problems caused by poor transport networks and in particular rail links.[3] It was further hindered by taxes on paper, advertising and the newspapers themselves.[3] This changed in the early 19th century when Wales experienced sweeping social changes due to the Industrial Revolution. A rapid surge in population growth, along with the adoption of radacalist political views and the growth of Nonconformity saw the development of newspapers publishing in Wales.[3] However the market for newspapers in Wales was much smaller than in England and was also to some extent split between two languages.

The first weekly newspaper in Wales was The Cambrian, published in 1804 and based in Swansea.[4] Printed only in the English language, it was initially restricted to circulation in the southern towns of Wales, but over time its distribution increased, reaching not just South Wales, but also the West of England, America, India and the British colonies.[3][4] The newspaper mainly covered local and general news, but also advocated mining, agricultural, and commercial interests.[4] The success of The Cambrian was followed by other weeklies, including the North Wales Gazette (Bangor, 1808) and the Carmarthen Journal (Carmarthen, 1910).[3] The first Welsh-language weekly, Seren Gomer, was founded by Joseph Harris (Gomer) in Swansea in 1814.[3][5] It covered national, foreign, political and religious news, and also included literary contributions from notable Welsh Nonconformists.[5] Although it had a considerable circulation, the tax on paper made the Seren Gomer unviable, and it stopped after 85 issues.[3] It was relaunched as a fortnightly in 1818 and then a monthly in 1820.[3]

Few newspapers were established in Wales in the 1820s and 1830s. Both the Cardiff Weekly Reporter and the Newport Review were launched in Cardiff in 1822, and in 1836 the Welsh-language weekly Cronicl yr Oes (The Chronicle of the Age) began distributing from Mold in North Wales.[3][6] 1836 also saw the printing of a West Wales paper, the Cambrian Gazette: Y Freinlen Gymroaidd ("The Welshmen's Charter"), based in Aberystwyth. All four were short lived.[3][6] More successful papers from that period included the Monmouthshire Merlin (Newport, 1829-91) and the The Welshman (1832-1984).[6] In 1843, Yr Amserau (The Times), which was to become the first successful Welsh-language newspaper, was launched.[3] Established across the border in Liverpool by Gwilym Hiraethog, it was later bought by Thomas Gee of Denbigh in 1859 and amalgamated with Baner Cymru (The Banner of Wales) (1857) to form Baner ac Amserau Cymru.[6][7] This became a powerful influence on Welsh life, and through its most notable contributor John Griffith, writing under his pen name Y Gohebydd (The Correspondent), the paper would champion radical causes, including the defence of Nonconformist views.[6][7]

When stamp duty on newspapers was abolished in 1855, the effect was a rise in the number of publications, and most of the denominational papers in Wales originated around this period.[7] The Baptist Seren Cymru (Star of Wales) launched in Carmarthen 1851, but had a short run followed by a more successful launch when it re-established in 1856. This was followed by the Congregationalists' Y Tyst Cymreig (The Welsh Witness) (1867), the Calvinistic Methodists' Y Goleuad (The Illuminator) (1869), the Wesleyans' Y Gwyliedydd (The Sentinel) (1877) and the Anglican Y Llan a'r Dywysogaeth (The Parish and Principality) (1881).[6][7] These religious papers were published nationally and reported on home and wider British news, though they also gave leadership on political and social issues.[7]

Outside of Cardiff and Swansea, two other towns in the south Wales, Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare, developed as newspaper publishing hubs in the mid- to late 19th century. Josiah Thomas Jones of Aberdare launched both Y Gwron Cymreig ("The Welsh Hero", 1854-60) and The Aberdare Times (1861-1902), while David Williams (Alaw Goch), Abraham Mason and William Williams (Carw Goch) also of Aberdare, published Y Gwladgarwr ("The Patriot", 1858-82).[7][8] The most important of these newspapers was Tarian y Gweithiwr ("The Workers' Shield"), which had a strong Liberal-Labour bias and stood for workers' rights; this made it popular with the coal miners and tinplate workers of the region.[7][9] Merthyr Tydfil in turn was home to The Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian (1832-74), The Merthyr Star (1859-1881), Y Fellten ("The Lightning Flash", 1868-76), and two Chartist publications The Workman and Udgorn Cymru ("The Trumpet of Wales").[7]

In the north, Bangor and Caernarfon rose as important print towns. The North Wales Gazette was first published in Bangor in 1808 before changing title to the North Wales Chronicle in 1827. In direct conflict was the Carnarvon and Denbigh Herald, whose editorials were Liberal and Nonconformist, in contrast with the support of the Chronicle for Toryism and the Established Church.[7]

Modern national newspapers[edit]

Unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Welsh national press is limited. The only English-language Wales-based national newspaper is the Western Mail, produced by Trinity Mirror. Its Sunday counterpart is the Wales on Sunday.

One study in the 1990s found that the most widely read newspaper in Wales was The Sun.[10] Despite the popularity of London-based newspapers in Wales, most UK newspapers do not produce regional editions for the Welsh audience, although until 2003 The Mirror was branded as the Welsh Mirror. Since the 1970s, there has been a decline in the number of Fleet Street newspaper journalists based in Wales; now all national UK newspapers rely on the Press Association reporter in Wales.[11]

Modern regional newspapers[edit]

The most popular local newspapers in Wales, as of 2018, are the Daily Post, the Swansea-based South Wales Evening Post, the Cardiff-based South Wales Echo and Western Mail, and the Newport-based South Wales Argus.[12] The North Wales edition of the Liverpool Daily Post is distributed in that region.[12] The Evening Leader is the main evening newspaper for North East Wales.[citation needed]

Y Cymro ("The Welshman", Welsh pronunciation: [ə ˈkəmrɔ]) was Wales' last Welsh language weekly newspaper, first published in 1932. By the time of its cessation in 2017 its sales had dwindled to around 2,000 copies.[13]

Modern magazines[edit]

Around Town is a free lifestyle and events magazine which publishes four variant editions that serve Bridgend, Cardiff, Swansea and Rhondda Cynon Taff.[14]

Golwg ("View"; Welsh pronunciation: [ˈɡɔlʊk]) is a Welsh-language magazine established in 1988. It covers current events and features and claims a monthly circulation of 12,000, the largest circulation of any magazine in Wales.[citation needed] In 2009 Golwg launched Golwg360, a news website offering daily Welsh and international news in the Welsh language.[15] It was initially launched with £600,000 funding from the Welsh Assembly, and is currently funded through the Welsh Books Council.[16]

Cambria, which referred to itself as the 'National Magazine of Wales', was first launched in 1997 and was published bi-monthly. A glossy publication covering the arts, current affairs, topical subjects, history and lifestyle, it was aimed at ABC1 readers.[17] It faced closure in 2015 after losing its funding from the Welsh Books Council, but was temporarily saved after a newly formed company, MegaGroup Newspapers, bought a half share in the publication.[18][19] It printed its final issue in 2016 and MegaGroup was made insolvent[clarification needed] in 2017.[20]

Planet, a bi-monthly magazine covering the arts, literature and politics in Wales and the wider world, is produced in Aberystwyth. Each edition features poems and short stories alongside cultural reviews and political analysis.[21]

A Welsh edition of the Times Educational Supplement, called TES Cymru, dedicates a number of pages to Wales' devolved education system, with a reporter based in Cardiff.[citation needed]

Furthermore, Wales has a network of local Welsh-language newsletters. Known as papurau bro ("local papers"), they are produced by volunteers and generally published monthly, serving a hyperlocal market. The first such publication was Y Dinesydd ("The Citizen"), established in Cardiff in April 1973. There are currently over 50 papurau bro, produced throughout Wales.[16]


There are a large number of specialist zines produced in Wales, including Gagged! (the South Wales anarchist newsletter),[22] The Free Flyer (the free paper for "Brecon, Builth, Crickhowell, Hay on Wye, Llandovery, Llandrindod, Llanwrtyd, Talgarth and Rhayader"),[citation needed] and the Cambrian Snooze newsletter in Aberystwyth.[23]



Plaque commemorating the first broadcast in Wales on 13 February 1923

At 5 pm on 13 February 1923, 5WA Cardiff, a forerunner of BBC Radio Wales, first broadcast from a music shop at 19 Castle Street in Cardiff city centre. Later that evening Mostyn Thomas sang Dafydd y Garreg Wen, which was the first Welsh language song to be broadcast. A commemorative plaque records the event.[24] However 5WA Cardiff ended on 28 May 1923.[25]


BBC Wales is based in Broadcasting House, Llandaff, northern Cardiff, and provides BBC One Wales and BBC Two Wales television channels. BBC Wales produces the most-watched Welsh news programme BBC Wales Today, current affairs programme Week In Week Out, sports coverage in Scrum V and Sport Wales, science-fiction programmes including Doctor Who and Torchwood, and factual programmes such as X-Ray.

ITV Wales is based in Culverhouse Cross, western Cardiff and produces regional news and factual programmes such as Wales Tonight, Wales This Week, Sharp End and The Wales Show.

S4C is the main Welsh-language station and has its headquarters in Llanishen, northern Cardiff. The channel features around 10 hours a week of programmes made in Welsh by BBC Wales, such as Newyddion (News) and Pobol y Cwm (a long-running soap opera) as well as programmes made by independent production companies.


The BBC runs two national radio stations, BBC Radio Wales in English and BBC Radio Cymru in Welsh. A third national service is provided by Real Radio Wales. There are also a number of commercial and community radio stations throughout the country which broadcast in both Welsh and English.

Rank Radio station Location Weekly
(Dec 2014)[26]
1 Heart Wales Cardiff (Bay) 497,000
2 BBC Radio Wales Cardiff (Llandaff) 427,000
3 Capital South Wales Cardiff (Bay) 207,000
4 Nation Radio Cardiff (Bay) 176,000
5 Capital North West and Wales Wrexham 174,000
6 The Wave Gowerton 138,000
7 Heart North Wales Wrexham 107,000
8 Radio Cymru Cardiff (Llandaff) 106,000
9 Smooth North Wales Cardiff (Bay) 74,000
10 Swansea Sound Gowerton 69,000
11 Smooth South Wales Cardiff (Bay) 59,000
12 Radio Pembrokeshire Narbeth 45,000
13 Bridge FM Bridgend 43,000
14 Nation Hits Neath 42,000
15 Radio Carmarthenshire Narbeth 39,000
16 Radio Ceredigion Narbeth 18,000

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Davies (2008) p. 87
  2. ^ Davies, J. (1994) Broadcasting and the BBC in Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Davies (2008) p. 615
  4. ^ a b c "The Cambrian and general weekly advertiser for the principality of Wales". The National Library of Wales. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Seren Gomer, neu hysbysydd wythnosol cyffredinol dros holl dywysogaeth Cymru". The National Library of Wales. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Early Weeklies". The National Library of Wales. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Davies (2008) p. 616
  8. ^ "Y Gwladgarwr". The National Library of Wales. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Tarian y Gweithiwr". The National Library of Wales. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  10. ^ Mackay, H. and Powell, A. (1997) "Wales and its Media. Production, Consumption and Regulation". Contemporary Wales vol. 9, pp. 8-39.
  11. ^ Williams, K. (2000) "No Dreads, only Some Doubts: The Press and the Referendum Campaign" in Barry Jones, J. and Balsom, D. (eds) The Road to the National Assembly for Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  12. ^ a b Thomas, Huw (1 March 2018). "Newspaper circulation figures decline by up to 28%". BBC News. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Papur Y Cymro ar werth am y tro olaf". BBC (in Welsh). 29 June 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Around Town (Home page)". On Target Magazines Ltd. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  15. ^ "News website in Welsh is launched". BBC News. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  16. ^ a b Read all about it, Inquiry into News Journalism in Wales (PDF) (Report). Cardiff: National Assembly of Wales: Welsh Language and Communications Committee. May 2018. p. 18.
  17. ^ "Cambria Magazine Vacancy". 21 July 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  18. ^ "A Review of English-language Magazines in Wales". Welsh Books Council. July 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  19. ^ Sharman, David (20 May 2015). "'National magazine of Wales' saved after regional publisher steps in". Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  20. ^ "Megagroup Newspaper Ltd: Company number 09430434". Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  21. ^ "Planet (Home page)". Planet. Retrieved 18 September 2008.
  22. ^ "Gagged! (Home page)". Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  23. ^ "ADX/885: Cambrian Snooze and other underground press ephemera". Archifdy Ceredigion Archives. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  24. ^ Prior, Neil (13 February 2013). "Broadcasting in Wales: 90 years since BBC went on air". Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  25. ^ "5WA Cardiff Listings". Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  26. ^ Thomas, Huw. "BBC Wales radio audiences rise, figures show". BBC News. Retrieved 8 February 2015.


Primary sources[edit]

External links[edit]