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Public service broadcaster for Cornwall
It is bad news that the BBC has taken the decision to cut 450 jobs in its regional news and current affairs television and radio programming. I find this particularly disappointing as it has always been my view that we need broadcasting to be less dominated by London and other metropolitan centres.
This approach to job cuts and the scope of future broadcasting is also worrying from a Cornish perspective. I have been among those supporting the push for a Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) for Cornwall, something that the authorities have yet to act upon.

Wales has the S4C television channel, while Scotland has BBC Alba, and as the Chairman of Cornwall Council’s National Minority Working Group, I recently wrote to a House of Commons Select Committee in support of a Cornwall PSB.

The Cornish were recognised as a national minority in 2014 and the UK Government pledged that we would be treated the same as the UK’s other national minorities. But Cornwall is the only Celtic part of the state without its own media service, while TV content is produced for all of the UK’s Celtic languages – except Cornish!

When the BBC Charter was renewed in 2016, it included a commitment
to support the UK’s regional and minority languages through its “output and services and through partnerships with other organisations,” but the Charter defines “regional and minority languages” as being Welsh, Scottish-Gaelic, Irish and Ulster Scots. Unbelievably, the Cornish language is excluded from this list, which demonstrates the BBC is showing significant disrespect towards its own diversity commitments.

The unitary authority has commissioned a study to investigate the potential for a Cornwall PSB and a summary report has just been published by Denzil Monk and Mandy Berry.

A hard-hitting document, it makes the case that Cornwall has been failed by current TV provision and that it has often been “constructed from the outside as a perpetual destination,” while “local” television is delivered through the framework of a “SW region of England.”

The report argues that so many of our national traditions are overlooked, while “divergent realities of contemporary Cornish culture are hidden.”

It adds that, “where visible, Cornishness is diminished to a ‘local curiosity’ to view as part of the commodified ‘picturesque romanticisation’ Cornish lifestyle or visitor experience, a picture postcard world of cream teas, romantic ruined mines and quaint fishing villages.”

It then asks the very incisive question: “But what if our view was wider than a postcard?”
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Published on 19th November 2020.

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