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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Don't tinker with S4C" says Labour duo

Clwyd South Labour duo Susan Elan Jones and Ken Skates have warned the UK Government not to tinker with S4C’s funding, saying that any change could seriously jeopardise the broadcasters independence.
On the eve of the UK Government’s Spending Review on Wednesday the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has refused to quash speculation it will end the £6.7m grant the Welsh channel receives each year directly from the department. 
Any such move could leave it entirely funded by the BBC Licence Fee. 
Last week the Department for Culture Media and Sport agreed an 8% cut to its budget as part of the Spending Review due to be announced by the Chancellor this week.
The Labour pair said S4C was key to a strong and independent media in Wales and that the channel’s funding shouldn’t be cut back any further.
Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones said: "It is worrying if the UK Government chooses to end entirely its direct funding of S4C.  The channel has seen its budget cut back significantly in recent years and its fragile funding formula shouldn’t be tinkered with any further during this or any other spending review.
“The funding it receives from DCMS gives it a direct channel into the heart of government and a vital dialogue with the Secretary of State on broadcasting issues impacting on Wales, S4C and the Welsh language.
“S4C is only just getting back on its feet after the trauma of the last funding changes.  Only this year it had its long-term funding outlined in a new relationship with the BBC, so more change would only further destabilise the channel and impact negatively on its independence.”
Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates said: Under no circumstances would it be either fair or sensible for the UK Government to visit even more pain on S4C during the upcoming Spending Review.  The Government have had their pound of flesh from S4C over the last few years and it shouldn’t be returning for more cuts given the fragile position the channel is in. 
“I recently met with other AMs and the Chief Executive of S4C who warned us very clearly that cutting back S4C’s funding any further would negatively impact on the channel and its excellent body of work.  S4C helps generate nearly £125m for Wales’ creative economy, so any further cuts would be bad for the whole sector, not just the channel.
“Broadcasting in Wales is in a weak enough position as it is without more pain being visited upon it.  The delicate ecology of our Welsh media needs to be better protected and not become an easy target for cuts every time the Treasury needs to bring in more cash.”
S4C received £6.7m from DCMS in 2013, down from £101m in 2010.
The BBC will contribute £76.3m from the licence fee in 2013-14, falling to £74.5m by 2016/17.
Earlier this year a new partnership was agreed following public consultation over plans to fund most of S4C's activities from the BBC licence fee meaning S4C will remain independent, also receiving UK government funding and generating its own revenue

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