Wednesday, 1 February 2017

S4C still facing death by a thousand cuts.

I have in the past queried whether the cuts to S4C's budget were wise and indeed designed  to  create a situation in which the channel reaches such a low audience that there will be a campaign to scrap it 
After all if you cut opening hours for any service you will find less people  will use it.
Now we have been warned S4C could lose its high-definition satellite service if feared cuts go ahead, and of even greater concern English language subtitling could also be cut back and the already high number of repeats could be increased, MPs were warned.
Giving evidence to the Welsh Affairs committee, S4C chief executive Ian Jones stressed the progress it had made in making savings but warned further cuts would threaten key services.

He said:

Our cost per hour has come down by 35% over five years... We made a decision four or five years ago that whatever happened we were going to protect what we had on the screen and the number of hours and we’ve done that, but that’s meant that our repeat programmes have gone up to around 57% whereas I think the BBC’s average for repeats is about 5%, and when S4C started we were targeting 20% so repeats are really high...

“So, although it’s a tiny amount of money in the context in Westminster – £700,000, absolutely tiny – it is substantial for us... We’ve cut virtually everything else to the bone and we will have to look at the service [if] we have any future cuts or this is not frozen.”

“So, although it’s a tiny amount of money in the context in Westminster – £700,000, absolutely tiny – it is substantial for us... We’ve cut virtually everything else to the bone and we will have to look at the service [if] we have any future cuts or this is not frozen.”
Signalling that English language subtitling could be scaled back, he said:

 “The one thing I’ve been determined to do in the last five years is be inclusive so if you can’t speak Welsh you should be able to access the content on S4C, and [that] inclusivity comes through in that we subtitle about 79% of our programming. We’ll have to look at reducing that.”
I have long suspected  that S4C's viewing figures are much larger than we are given to believe and there  are a substantial number of Non- Welsh speakers viewers using the subtitle service and not just to watch Pobly y Cwm.

Warning that high-definition broadcasting could stop, Nr Jones said:
 “We relaunched back in the middle of last year for the Euros but it’s another area of the service – if we want to protect the hours – that we’re going to have to look at if there’s another cut.”
Describing the decision to relaunch the high-definition service, which had been axed in 2012, he said: 
"I had no choice, I don’t think. If we’re a national broadcaster and we’re supposed to record not only the collective memory of a nation but what’s happening in real time, how we could not go back on HD and not show the Euros on HD? We had to, otherwise we would have been in my view providing a second class service...
“I’ve got to find the financing if we’re going to continue on HD in the future.”
In that he hits the nail on the head , S4C is not some kind of local service like "Made in Cardiff" but a reflection of us as a modern bilingual Nation.

TV films produced for S4C have received some good foreign reviews; Hedd Wyn was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 1994 and Solomon & Gaenor was nominated in 2000. Others like Milwr Bychan (Boy Soldier), 1986 directed by Karl Francis amd : Rhosyn a Rhith (Coming Up Roses), directed by Stephen Bayly 1986 also reached a wider audience.
There are more here and many would not have been made without S4C.

Can we really carry on reducing S4C to only being able to afford documentaries on farmers daily lives in Ceredigion.




 

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