Wednesday, 11 November 2015

S4C a cycle or "managed" funding decline?

The BBC website carries the news that  the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) has warned S4C risks entering a "cycle of decline" unless its funding is sustained, .
The think tank has also called for the Welsh language TV channel's independence to be safeguarded and for BBC Wales' budget to rise by £30m.
The IWA's Audit of Welsh Media has been published ahead of a sell-out summit in Cardiff on Wednesday.
Issues affecting the print, broadcast and online industries will be debated.
The IWA also recommends that:

  • A media advisory panel to monitor industry trends should be set up by the Welsh government
  • S4C and BBC Wales should maximise their collaboration, while maintaining distinctive services
  • BBC2 Wales and S4C should broadcast in high definition (HD)
  • Radio 1 and Radio 2 in Wales should carry Welsh news programming
  • The BBC should create a separate iPlayer service for Wales
  • Responsibility for broadcasting should be shared between the UK and Welsh governments
  • A fund to pay for "innovative" online news services should be established by the Welsh government




 There is also an excellent response  by  Jamie Medhurst  to the IWA’s draft Media Audit findings on English language TV in Wales. om Click on Wales. and another by Lee Walters who sums up the audit thus
  • Spending on English language television by the BBC has been cut by 25%, as has the number of hours produced
  • S4C suffered a 24% cut in its central funding and ITV Wales is broadcasting a diminished service of just now 90 minutes a week on top of its news output
  • There’s been a narrowing of the range of programmes, with genres such as light entertainment, the arts and drama are minimally represented or, in some years, not at all.
  • Local content on commercial radio has been cut as ownership has been consolidated
  • Welsh newspapers have seen a collapse in their print distribution – in common with most modern media markets. Although there are encouraging signs of the growth of online journalism, the commercial pressures on journalism raises question marks about the future of inquiring reporting and its ability to scrutinise Government all levels in Wales.
With the BBC facing a review and probably facing  more cuts and ITV Wales seemingly only interested in putting the bare minimum of "Welsh" programmes on its network all of them factual, the future looks bleak across all Chanels.

The example of S$C is a prime example on how the Westminster  government works however.

  • First a series of stories appear in the media appear claiming of low audiences for certain S4C programmes .
  • Next transfer funding to the license fee  so the blame for cuts can be transferred to the BBC and allow license fee payers seeing cuts in English Language programmes to question why they are also paying for S4C.
  • When S4C cuts inevitability leads to a decline in program quality highlight low audiences once again.
  • Finally get S4C to such a low ebb you start to question its existence.

The example of S$C  is not alone in a managed decline you can be forgiven for thinking that similar plans are being made for the NHS where deliberate leaks showing the NHS in disarray are not meant to encourage improvement .but  to get people to except some form of privatisation

With nearly four and a half years of this government still to go  by the next election the fate of S4C could well have be already sealed unless there is action now.

But any campaign should also cal for more English Language programmes  of a Welsh nature including non-factual programmes on the so called ITV Wales Chanel.

It should be but broadcasting and the media in general in Wales is unlikely to be a major issue in May Assembly election. But al the parties should outline in their manifestos  response  based on the IWA audit and what they see as thefuture not just for S4C but all our media.


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