Fears for future funding of Welsh channel S4C

12 May 11
MPs have warned of a threat to the operational and financial independence of the Welsh language broadcaster S4C under the Treasury’s proposed funding arrangements.

By Lucy Phillips

13 May 2011

MPs have warned of a threat to the operational and financial independence of the Welsh language broadcaster S4C under the Treasury’s proposed funding arrangements.  

Most of the funding for S4C is due to be shifted from a direct grant from the Department for Culture Media & Sport to via the BBC’s licence fee from 2013/14. The announcement came in the October Comprehensive Spending Review.

A report published this week by the Commons Welsh Affairs Committee says ministers and the BBC struck the deal over S4C’s future in ‘regrettable haste’. More detail should have been given to the proposed funding and governance model, the group of cross-party MPs said.

Given the £100m annual funding S4C is currently given, its audience figures are ‘disappointingly low’, the report says. But the channel’s importance to the Welsh economy is ‘critical’, the MPs say. It is thought the broadcaster adds about 2,000 jobs and up to £100m to the economy.

The committee calls on S4C to continue to independently commission its programmes from production companies based in Wales, rather than the BBC. The BBC and DCMS must also ‘guarantee’ S4C’s funding and ensure it receives in full its proportion of the licence fee. 

Committee chair David Davies said: ‘We are determined that S4C maintain its central position in the Welsh economy, commissioning more quality and popular programming from Welsh independent production companies, providing Welsh language services and reaching a greater share of the approximately 600,00 Welsh speakers in the UK. ‘

But he also called on the broadcaster to ‘raise its game’. He said: ‘In this new phase for S4C we want an increased focus on efficiency and improved audience figures.’

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