S4C and the future of broadcasting in the Welsh language

Written by Alex Veeneman

In the 21st century, S4C has a unique role to play for the people of Wales, as it broadcasts programmes in the Welsh language.

In the 21st century, S4C has a unique role to play for the people of Wales, as it broadcasts programmes in the Welsh language. It has been primarily funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport but a recent funding announcement from the DCMS will see a cut to S4C’s budget.

According to a report from the BBC, the current grant from the Department is £7 million. That grant is to be cut by one percent in 2013 and a reduction by two percent in 2014. The majority of funding for S4C is to be taken over by the BBC’s licence fee beginning in April 2013, the report adds.

For S4C, there are considerations to be made, and in a statement, its chief executive Ian Jones said there was examinations taken place. “S4C has received a letter from the UK Government letting us know that the portion of our budget which comes directly from them is being cut by an additional 1 percent in 2013/14 and a further 2 percent in 2014/15,” Jones said. “This will reduce the £7m grant that had been guaranteed by the UK Government as part of the Comprehensive spending Review in October 2010.”

Jones adds that this specific move by the Department is on top of previous financial moves made. “We note that DCMS has ensured that new cuts are consistent across the bodies it funds,” Jones said. “In the case of S4C these cuts are in addition to the cuts that had already been announced to our budget, 36 percent between 2010 and 2014. We will now consider how to deal with the implication of this announcement, bearing in mind the economic effect that cuts to S4C’s budget causes.”

A spokesperson for the Department did not respond to Kettle’s request seeking comment on the move, but according to the BBC report the Department said the Culture Secretary Maria Miller had stated the government had to find savings.

S4C is at the core of broadcasting in the Welsh language, being available not just in Wales but across the UK, showcasing a language recently shown to be in decline in new census figures. The channel recently saw an agreement finalised with BBC Cymru Wales ensuring the continuation of Welsh programmes, which currently amounts to 520 hours a year, through 2016 and 2017, according to a BBC report. The BBC produces the news programme Newyddion and the long running programme Pobol y Cwm. The BBC’s funding of S4C is to go through 2017, in an agreement reached in late 2011.

As time moves forward, the move by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport raises questions as to the overall effects of S4C, which is still being measured. It appears that S4C will continue to be able to remain Calon Cenedl, The Heart of a Nation, and its future is something that it and many across Wales hopes it can continue to do in the midst of this funding move.

What do you think of this decision? How important is S4C to the development of the Welsh language? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook and on Twitter.