BBC Welsh 'has viewers baffled'

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The Independent Online
THE STYLE of Welsh used in BBC Wales news bulletins is sometimes too complicated, literary and 'elitist'.

Many viewers of Welsh language Channel Four television (S4C), which uses the BBC bulletins, do not understand it, a survey revealed yesterday, and newscasters are being urged to use more everyday Welsh and speak more slowly.

About 500,000 people in Wales, just less than 20 per cent of the population, are Welsh speakers.

The opinions of panels of viewers look set to provoke a lively debate on the introduction of a more 'tabloid' form of Welsh in the nightly news programmes on S4C.

Beaufort Research, of Cardiff, sounded out opinion in the native Welsh-speaking strongholds of towns like Caernarfon, Holyhead and Blaenau Ffestiniog, all in Gwynedd, as part of a 'qualitative research report'. Jill Gregson, Beaufort's associate director, said: 'We found people had difficulty understanding the news because of the style of the language.'

S4C commissioned the study as part of research into ways of attracting more viewers, and a spokesman said: 'It will be a matter for detailed discussion, but it's too early to say whether there will be changes.'

A BBC Wales spokesman said: 'As we have not seen the report, we are not in a position to comment.'

Welsh language experts pointed to the distinct regional differences in the language in North and South Wales.

Gareth James, director of the National Language Centre for Welsh learners near Pwllheli, Gwynedd, said: 'Personally, I don't have any difficulty understanding the news, but I can understand how it could be a problem.'