Relief about S4C

The announcement that Jeremy Hunt is going to seek to amend the law concerning the funding of S4C is welcome news. Welcome because it means that the S4C Authority has not agreed to take a "voluntary" cut in funding.


If the ConDem government wants to change the terms of the Broadcasting Act, it is perfectly entitled to try; and if it can persuade a majority in Parliament to vote with them, it will get its way. But it will all have to be done openly, and will be subject to full debate and public scrutiny. In particular, it will mean that Welsh MPs will each have to stand up and be counted on the issue.

This is how it should be. It was wrong for the ConDem government to attempt to bully through changes behind closed doors. S4C is a public service broadcaster, and deserves its future funding arrangements to be debated and decided in public.

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Anonymous said...

one important by product of all this is that there is now apparently the very real possibility of broadcasting in wales becoming a 'devolved' issue. This would certainly present challenges for the assembly and broadcasters like s4c - but exciting opportunities too i think!

Leigh Richards

Owen said...

Here's another welcome development in my opinion.

MH said...

I don't mind cooperation, and the two organizations already have a cooperation agreement, but I'd be very wary of too close an association between the BBC and S4C, Owen. The BBC are just too big, and they will inevitably have the main say. What the BBC want is not necessarily what's in the best interests of S4C.

The recent unilateral announcement that the BBC will reduce the number of hours it provides to S4C is a perfect example of their ruthlessness. Why did they think they had to cut the BBC's regional budget for Wales now, when their own income from the licence fee will not be reviewed for another two years? In fact even the licence fee freeze will not freeze their income, because the increase in the number of smaller households is a demographic trend, and therefore more licences will be sold.

We need diversity in broadcasting. For that reason it is much better to protect S4C's statutory status. In my opinion the biggest change needed is for the BBC to be required to provide more hours of Welsh language programming to S4C, in line with the four-fold increase in the hours of English language programmes they now broadcast (although with repeats taken into account it may be slightly less), as I mentioned here. If the Broadcasting Act is to be amended, this is one of the things that must be addressed. Interestingly enough, Alun Cairns (the loudest Welsh Tory voice in favour of S4C funding being cut) made exactly the same point on CF99 only a few days later.

Unknown said...

S4C - like Channel 4 - is a commissioning body, and doesn't make any programs. So what would be the advantage of moving into a shared 'media centre' with the BBC, which does make programs, and which is a client of S4C?

S4C has had a lot of bad publicity recently - starting with the '0 viewer programs' non- story, which they did not defend themselves against at all effectively. I think even its friends would agree that it could be run better. It gives the impression of having become a bit complacent - so the shakeup in management and a re-examination of its purpose could well be a good thing in the long term.

All broadcasters face challenges in the face of new technology - and this may an opportunity for S4C to pioneer quicker, less expensive methods of making programs without compromising on quality.

A quick suggestion for the new S4C management:

I personally don't often watch S4C - as I hardly ever watch programs as they are broadcast - instead I watch programs on iplayer, 4od, ITV player etc - and as S4c doesn't seem to be available on demand, it is losing a lot of potential viewers. A good start would be to get included on 4OD or iPlayer. On my Virgin on demand service I have a lot of Gallic BBC alba programs - but none in Welsh. Why Not? Surely it would not be difficult to arrange.

Anonymous said...

@Sionnyn - S4C has the excellent Clic on demand service (have a quick look at their website). I am currently based in London and have no cable/satellite tv and do all my S4C viewing on demand.

Anonymous said...

WAG should be keeping a very close eye on developments in Scotland in relation to the working group set up last month to explore the practicalities of establishing a Scottish Digital Network, in particular the mechanisms by which it would be funded:

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