S4C viewing figures ... in high definition

A few weeks ago, ITV Cymru produced an edition of Y Byd ar Bedwar which focused on the crisis S4C is currently facing, and included figures from a poll they commissioned from YouGov. I've embedded the video for those who want to see it again.


Some of the poll figures which struck me were that:

•  19% of Welsh speakers don't watch S4C at all

•  30% watched less TV than 5 years ago, but 39% watched less S4C

•  35% of Welsh speakers wanted S4C to remain wholly Welsh, but 36% of them thought that it should show English programmes too

•  Most people watched S4C for its sports coverage

It goes without saying that these were rather disappointing figures. So I asked YouGov for some additional information, particularly because one of the other polls they published based on the same data included a breakdown by fluency in Welsh. ITV have kindly given their permission for YouGov to publish this data and it is now available here.

YouGov in fact asked two separate questions on Welsh, in this order:

Can you understand, speak, read or write Welsh? Please tick all that apply.

•  Understand spoken Welsh
•  Speak Welsh
•  Read Welsh
•  Write Welsh
•  None of the above

How well, if at all, would you say you can speak Welsh?

•  Fluently
•  Fairly well
•  Not very well
•  Not at all

The first question was chosen because it is identical to the question asked in the census, and this was used to weight the raw data; but the second question gives a rather clearer picture of people's ability in Welsh.

In answer to the first question, 222 out of 1206 or 18.4% said they could speak Welsh, which was then weighted to 16.8%. (If this seems low, it is probably because YouGov asked adults, but the census figures are for all people over 3 years old, and the highest percentage of Welsh speakers is for those at school.) But in answer to the second, the raw percentages for ability to speak Welsh were:

Fluently ... 6.7%
Fairly well ... 7.3%
Not very well ... 33.1%
Not at all ... 52.9%

What this shows is that there is quite a flexible "middle ground" in which people's views can be characterized as falling into one of two responses, either:

"I am a Welsh speaker, but I don't speak Welsh very well."


"I don't speak Welsh very well, therefore I can't really call myself a Welsh speaker."

The purpose of giving this explanation is in order to help us understand the more detailed information within the survey. The programme itself only made mention of the breakdown between Welsh speakers and non Welsh speakers based on the first question. In fact it is almost certain that the programme makers did not know what the cross-break (to use the jargon) for fluency in Welsh was, since that information has only been put together in response to my request.

For that reason, I want to stress that I am not accusing ITV of presenting misleading information. The figures they quoted are accurate ... but just not as helpful as they could have been. So with this in mind I now want to look again at what the more detailed information shows us.

How many Welsh speakers watch S4C?


So the headline figure that 19% of the Cymry Cymraeg don't watch S4C gets reduced to only 7% of those who speak the language fluently. 93% of fluent Welsh speakers watch S4C at least sometimes, and 71% watch S4C at least once a week.

Do we watch S4C more or less than we did 5 years ago?


The way the figures were presented on Y Byd ar Bedwar was that the fall in S4C viewers was worse that the general fall in television viewing. So these more detailed figures are quite startling. Yes, it is true that people generally watch less TV than we did five years ago, but the percentage of fluent Welsh speakers who watch S4C has actually gone up ... 36% watch S4C more than before, only 23% less.

What do we watch on S4C?


It is of course true that most people who watch S4C watch it for sport, but for those who are fluent in Welsh, sport is not the main type of programme watched. Drama, news and current affairs, and entertainment programming are each higher up the list than sport.

Do Welsh speakers want English language programmes on S4C?


One of the major points made on the programme was that even Welsh speakers, even though only by 36% to 35%, wanted S4C to remain wholly Welsh. But the more detailed figures show that this was certainly not the opinion of those who speak Welsh fluently or even fairly well.


I've highlighted these points because they go some way to explain the more surprising figures presented on the programme. S4C is a minority channel, primarily aimed at those who speak Welsh ... although of course open to anybody who wants to watch. There are at least 30 other channels in English for those who want programmes in English.

What these figures seem to show is that S4C is actually doing a very good job of providing a range of Welsh language programmes for those who want drama, entertainment, news, current affairs and the like in Welsh rather than in English. The percentage of those fluent in Welsh who watch S4C is very high indeed, and these people watch more S4C now than we used to five years ago. Surely that is a mark of S4C's success.

Bookmark and Share


dewi said...

interesting, I remember somebody once telling me that "you can use facts to prove any point" so I do tend to ignore many of these "complicated" opinion polls. I think most 'Welsh speaking' people do want S4C, however at the same time agree it has some terrible programme for teens-twenties-thirtiy something. They really need to be more radical. Or even get a new C'mon midffild- people of ALL ages loved that.

NOTE: I was REALLY disappointing you didn't mention S4C 'clirlun' on this blog [see title]. I think a terrible terrible waste of money.

On S4C I think it'd be interesting to see a breackdown on how much revenue are given to certain companies to commission work i.e Tinopolis (and ALL it's sub-companies) and then contrast that with viewing figures. As majority of the top programmes are made by the BBC.

Perhaps S4C may want to go back and commission more work to smaller independent companies, as I don't really buy the argument for the need for large "independent" TV companies- as I feel S4C is currently dull, and seems as if it's just "Tinopolis TV". And yes I have an 'agenda' against this company!!!.

To conclude, I do think there are serious problems in S4C almost on all levels, yet I've yet to read anything on the 'net that solves these problems, and really I don't think there is a will for change by the 'cyfryngwyr' and 'pontcanna elite'- and yes I have an agenda against these too!.

What should happen?
What can happen?
What will happen?

Anonymous said...

Dydw i ddim yn awgrymu dim, ond rydw i newydd ateb pol i YouGov (ar fwriad pleidleisio) a roedd yn ddewis rhwng siarad Cymraeg yn rhugl, darllen Cymraeg ac ysgrifennu Cymraeg, roedd yn amhosib ticio'r cwbl.
I'm not suggesting anything, but I've just completed a survey for YouGov (on voting intentions) and I had to choose between speaking Welsh fluently, reading Welsh and writing welsh, ticking all was not an option.

Darren Laverty said...

S4C can do what it wants, but let them do it without tax payers money. Such a large amount of cash for such a small enterprise just doesn't sit well with the general populace. I'm a member of the populace and would refuse to pay for anything(except Ar y Stryd) I've ever seen produced or offered by S4C.

MH said...

Sorry not to mention Clirlun, Dewi ;-) But I don't think Clirlun is a waste of money. Not producing programmes in HD is going to be as silly as not producing them in colour would have been twenty five years ago.

I've got nothing against Tinopolis, but I tend to think it was a mistake to concentrate on a handful of large companies rather than a greater variety of smaller ones.


What you say about the questions is interesting, Anon. I just quoted what I was told in an email from YouGov. Is there a way you (or anyone else) can double check exactly what the questions on the website were?

Iestyn said...

Shw mae, MH. Oes modd i ti weud wrtha'i ble mae cael ffigyrau gwylio S4C dros y 10 mlynedd diwethaf? Dywedodd Jeremy Hunt heddi i S4C golli hanner ei wylwyr dros y 10 mlynedd ddiwethaf, a hynny'n esgus dros bob anfadwaith yn ei dyb e. Ond a ydy'r ffigyrau hyn yn cynnwys pobl oedd yn gwylio C4 ar S4C (cyn digidol)? Os felly mae fe'n chwarae gem beryglus gyda'r ystadegau...

Post a Comment