ITV Cymru Wales has unveiled its plans to cover the Senedd election campaign 2021 under the banner Wales Decides.
A wide variety of special programmes have been commissioned for broadcast in English and on S4C in Welsh to bring trusted content to on-air viewers - alongside the station’s biggest ever drive to inform audiences online and across its social media platforms.
Coverage starts on Monday with ITV Wales Political Editor Adrian Masters and the first of four programmes profiling the party leaders.
Three special Wales Decides constituency profiles, presented by Rob Osborne begin on Tuesday evening.
Five episodes of Y Byd yn ei Le [The World in its Place], follow with Guto Harri on S4C from Wednesday 7th April and Adrian returns with Wales Decides: The ITV Debate, an hour long live, prime time special broadcast on Sunday 18th April.
Election results will be carried live from many of the key constituencies and counts right across Wales in four hours of special broadcasts on Friday 7th May.
And, in another first, the results day service will also be carried live on the ITV News network YouTube Channel as it is being broadcast in Wales.
Phil Henfrey, Head of News and Programmes said: "Never has there been a greater need to engage and inform voters about the policies and politics being promised by the parties - and the likely impact on the people of Wales.
"We are uniquely placed to reach audiences who might not see Welsh election news on any other platform.
"The last 12 months of the pandemic has shown the absolutely vital need to provide clear, accurate, public service content to audiences in every part of Wales and beyond."
ITV CYMRU WALES - SPECIAL SENEDD ELECTION COVERAGE
Wales Decides [Leader's Profiles] - Starts Monday 5 April 8pm
Wales Decides [Constituency specials] - Starts Tuesday 6 April 10:45pm
Y Byd yn ei Le - Starts Wednesday 7 April 8:25pm
Wales Decides: The ITV Debate - Sunday 18 April 7pm
Wales Decides [The smaller parties] - Monday 12 April 10:45pm
Wales Decides [Polls Close] - 10:45 Thursday 6 May
Wales Decides [Results] - Friday 7 May, 2pm - 5pm and 9-10pm
A key change in this year's campaign will be the introduction of voting by 16 and 17-year-olds.
Bespoke content will be made available on Instagram to explain key issues to younger voters before they fill in their ballot forms for the first time.
Digital Content Editor, Kathryn Charles explained: "We know that there is a hunger to understand more about the choices facing audiences of all ages.
"We can see that in the significant number of people reading our coverage of election issues across all of our platforms.
"With Instagram, and other social media platforms, we can pioneer new techniques of bringing key information to younger voters in particular."
ITV Cymru Wales’ digital team will also be bringing some of the key election programming live as it happens to online audiences including the leaders' debate on 18 April and the results programme on 7 May.
Political Editor Adrian Masters and presenter Andrea Byrne will also be reaching out to audiences with a weekly online conversation called Adrian and Andrea’s Election Cuppa.
Andrea said: "Politics can sometimes feel a little bit dry or complicated. So we want to break down those barriers and engage people in a new and accessible way."
Adrian added: "We have many outlets providing the hard news of the election campaign on a daily basis. This new vodcast will allow us to share key insights along with some of the humour and personality of the campaign in a more relaxed and informal style".
At the heart of the coverage will be daily news reporting from reporters and correspondents right across Wales.
Louise Elliott, Programme and Digital Editor said: "Wales at Six will tell the election campaign and results story from communities across Wales, where audiences already trust and value ITV Cymru Wales' impartial and balanced approach to political storytelling.
"As well as scrutinising manifestos and political leaders, the focus will be on amplifying the voices of under-represented groups, helping viewers understand how political pledges could affect their lives and in particular, giving equal status in the wider debate to 16 and 17-year-olds, whose potentially crucial votes are up for grabs for the first time."
And, when the votes are being counted and the results declared, ITV Cymru Wales will have cameras at all the key locations.
"These ambitious programmes will tell the story of the most unpredictable election since devolution began.
"The scale and breadth of our results programme reflects the scale and importance of what the next Senedd will mean for Wales", said Owain Phillips who is producing the results coverage.
"Andrea Byrne will lead the coverage that's rooted live in every region.
"Our team of reporters on the ground will have all the latest reaction while Adrian Masters brings his expert knowledge and analysis in the studio.
"At a key moment in the development of the Senedd and devolution - ITV will be there explaining the significance to our viewers."