Iestyn Garlick says S4C’s financial and editorial independence is essential if it is to have a future
Despite the spending cuts there is still money on the table for S4C, and although it is less than what we’re used to it is still enough to offer a service in the Welsh language. So there is a future for S4C, but for how long? There is no guarantee of anything beyond 2015, and that’s the biggest concern.
To ensure that future we will need to ensure that S4C is a relevant and essential Channel to the Welsh nation. It must not be the Channel we all want, but do not watch.
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The independent producers association TAC represents close to 36 companies. This equates to more than 80 per cent of those working in the industry, which are therefore responsible for more than 80 per cent of S4C’s budget. These are Companies that have demonstrated over and over again that they can respond to the demands of S4C in the past, and are ready to do so in the future.
There has been considerable criticism of the policy of creating large companies, but it’s those companies that will train the workforce of the future. The training undertaken by Cyfle and Skillset Cymru is vital to any success.
Equally TAC will fight for the smaller Companies as well. If S4C is to prosper then there must be a place for a range of ideas and styles. TAC will fight for the Sector’s future, because if there is a threat to S4C’s future, then there is a threat to whole of TAC’s membership.
Others must also play their part if there is to be a prosperous future. Unlike Scotland, Wales is a country which sometimes seems to have its sights on London. On the other hand in Scotland people look first to Edinburgh rather than London.
More than 90 per cent of newspaper readers in Scotland read a either a Scottish daily paper or a Scottish edition of a London paper. In Wales fewer than 10 per cent read the Western Mail or the Daily Post and there are no Welsh editions of the London Press. This means the vast majority our nation are reading the London papers and as result know little about what is happening on their own doorstep, let alone what is happening in Cardiff Bay. The challenge for S4C is to attract an audience from amongst these people.
It’s time for the Western Mail to stop using terms like “beleaguered”, “under-threat” and “ailing” when referring to S4C. They must not continue to spread the suggestion that no one is watching S4C, which is simply not true. The more the press and media are allowed to continue in this vein, the more likely people are to start believing these allegations. For example, there has been talk recently that only 25 per cent of the potential audience had been watching the top programme in S4C’s top twenty. However, there was no mention that in the same week the percentage that had been watching the most popular programme on the BBC was 18 per cent. Of course, that does not make such a good story.
S4C must have stability and independence to ensure its future. This has been TAC’s demand from the outset. S4C will need to secure an agreement with the BBC so that money is in place for four years. We cannot accept a situation in which it would have to negotiate its budget on an annual basis.
It is also essential that S4C has the right to decide how and where the money is spent, just as the BBC has the right to use money as it pleases. It must make it perfectly clear to whoever is listening that it is not BBC money, but license fee money.
The BBC will no doubt offer a strategy that benefits both them and S4C. But any deal must also be beneficial to the Welsh language and culture, since protecting them is one of S4C’s core principles. We must not forget that S4C and the BBC are in competition, not only for the audience, but for ideas, actors, writers, and rights for sporting events. The financial and editorial independence of S4C is essential if there is any kind of future to broadcasting in the Welsh language.
5 thoughts on “Broadcasting Special 3: Is it a channel we want but don’t watch?”
I don’t know what has happened to S4C, and this article makes the point “it is a channel I want, but don’t watch” – however does not explain why.
I remember when C’mon Midffild was on and that European Gameshow Iestyn presented (can’t remember the name). These were first class entertainment shows which everybody watched. And I loved it, kids, parents and grandparents could all watch them.
Around the 2000 mark, something happened. The programmes made didn’t seem to suit what I enjoyed- I can’t name a programme that “everyone could watch” and cannot name a comedy sitcom S4C has recently made- something I think we did well.
There are clear problems, and looking at the schedule the programmes continue to be rather dull and not radical like the days of C’mon Midffild. It would be good if there was a full-scale audit of S4C – where is the money going, how is the money on commissioned programmes being used. I fear that there is far more wastage now- where before ‘producers were in it because of the thrill and enjoyment of making Welsh programmes’, now I fear people are in it for the money- and the programmes show this.
Over the weekend I tuned in, through choice, to Dudley and Cefn Gwlad, and both times I found that there was an annoying person gesticulating wildly in a prominent position in front of a diminished picture, which was so distracting that I chose to turn the TV off rather than continue watching. In the past Iolo’s programs, amongst others, have also been spoiled for me in the same way.
I assume that the gesticulating was sign language, and that it was Welsh sign language. Welsh is a minority language that S4C was founded to support, so why have they decided to add an even more marginal language to their mission? A minority of a minority? I am all for helping the hard of hearing (I am one myself), but S4C really needs to think about what its basic purpose is rather than being ultra PC like this.
“The independent producers association TAC represents close to 36 companies. This equates to more than 80 per cent of those working in the industry, which are therefore responsible for more than 80 per cent of S4C’s budget. These are Companies that have demonstrated over and over again that they can respond to the demands of S4C in the past, and are ready to do so in the future.
There has been considerable criticism of the policy of creating large companies, but it’s those companies that will train the workforce of the future. The training undertaken by Cyfle and Skillset Cymru is vital to any success.”
Your comments above do show that you are blatantly biased towards the Tinnopolis, Boomerang, Cwmni Da, Rondo, Telesgop and Avanti and not forgetting your own ex-big company Antena! Why is it ONLY the big companies that will train the workforce?
Skillset Cymru and Cyfle work with numerous small independent companies and it is well known in the industry, that the training provided by the LARGE companies is the – “learn it as you go along” scheme! Freelancers have paid for their own training making use of the courses provided by these organisations
The independent producers association TAC represents has a membership close to 36 companies. This article raises the question how far it represents all their interests, outside the “big six”.
Rhag dy gywilydd Sion Jones.
For those interested in these matters
You should listen to BBC Radio Cymru on iplayer – Wythnos Gwilym Owen 13.15 Monday 11th July
where there is a frank discussion regarding TAC and S4C
Michael Bayley Hughes – Telemona
Iestyn Garlick – TAC
Arwel Ellis Owen – S4C
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