A member of the public submitted a complaint about a national organisation that published more English podcasts than Welsh ones on platforms such as Spotify, Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts.
This raised concern that the organisation could be breaching Welsh Language Standards. As a result, the Commissioner opened an investigation into the matter.
Standard 33 of the Welsh Language Standards Regulations No. 2 has been placed on the organisation. In order to comply with standard 33 the organisation must produce publicity and advertising material in Welsh, and not treat Welsh versions less favourably than English versions.
Advertising material is material that promotes and promotes the use of an organisation's services. Publicity material is material that explains, or gives more information, about the work of an organisation. These materials can include pamphlets, booklets, films, videos and audio clips that are used in the media and at conferences and exhibitions etc.
The findings of the investigation
Section 67 of the Welsh Language Measure exempts an organisation from complying with Welsh Language Standards if that standard relates to broadcasting.
The organisation was of the opinion that podcasts fell under this exception, and that is the reason why it has published more English than Welsh podcasts. They also argued that even if podcasts fell under the requirements of the Welsh Language Standards that producing fewer Welsh podcasts was reasonable and proportionate.
The investigation came to the conclusion that it is the act of broadcasting itself that is exempt, and that the intention is to ensure control and editorial freedom for broadcasters over what they broadcast.
Section 67 does not exempt this organisation from complying with standard 33 when publishing podcasts as publishing podcasts does not fall within the definition of "broadcasting" because
(a) the organization is not a broadcaster
(b) the requirement for the organisation to comply with standard 33 when producing and distributing podcasts does not affect its editorial freedom regarding the podcasts
(c) producing videos or audio clips for download from a website or other web-based service does not constitute broadcasting.
The investigation rejected the organisation's argument that producing fewer Welsh podcasts than English ones is reasonable and proportionate. The requirement not to treat Welsh less favourably than English in this situation means that there should be the same amount of Welsh and English podcasts, of equal quality and substance.
The Commissioner ruled that the organization had failed to comply with standard 33.
What must be done to comply?
- If producing English podcasts, then Welsh podcasts should be published with corresponding themes.
- The same number of Welsh and English podcasts should be produced.
- The experience of those who listen to the Welsh podcasts should correspond to the experiences of those who listen to the English podcasts.
- The Welsh podcasts should be promoted.
This matter is relevant to standard 33 of the Welsh Language Standards Regulations – Number 2