Welsh language channel S4C will get an extra £7.5m from the UK Government after securing an improved funding deal from the UK Government.
Starting from its next financial year in April, the new five-year agreement will see S4C get all its funding entirely sliced from the BBC’s annual £3.7bn licence fee.
However, while the broadcaster has welcomed the news critics have pointed out that the channel’s funding is still much less than compared with in 2010.
The announcement comes after it was announced that the BBC has had its licence fee frozen at £159 per household until 2024.
Speaking at the House of Commons on Monday, the UK’s Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, said she recognised the importance of the Welsh language channel.
She said: “The Welsh broadcaster S4C plays a unique critical role in promoting the Welsh language and in supporting a wider public service and broadcasting landscape.”
In the current financial year, the public service broadcaster, which is headquartered in Carmarthenshire, will receive £81m, which includes a £6.8m grant from the UK Government’s Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) and the rest from the licence fee.
S4C welcomed the new funding settlement, which will increase its funding from the licence fee from £74.5m to £88.8m.
The channel’s Chair, Rhodri Williams, said the settlement reflected the DCMS and the Culture Secretary’s “faith” in S4C’s vision for the next five years.
He said: “Given the economic climate, this financial settlement, which comes after months of negotiation between the channel and the government, provides a good basis for S4C to plan for the next period.”
“We thank the Secretary of State and her officials for a constructive and positive process that has shown support for S4C’s ambition. We are also grateful to the Secretary of State for Wales, members of Parliament, members of the Senedd, members of the House of Lords and a large number of organisations, associations and friends across Wales who supported our cause. Showing that there is cross-party support throughout Wales strengthened S4C’s case as we submitted our application to the DCMS.”
S4C’s newly appointed chief executive, Siân Doyle, also welcomed the news.
“In light of the announcement we will now work carefully to implement our plans for 2022-27,” she said.
“We’ll look to see how we can transform our S4C Clic player, ensuring the wider distribution of our content on digital platforms, and improving our visibility on smart TVs. All of this reflects the change in the way people watch content and television programmes.”
However, the Chair of representative body for independent production firms in Wales, TAC, Dyfrig Davies, said that a two-year freeze in the TV license fee could create difficulties.
He said: “We are very pleased to see an increase in funding for S4C. TAC strongly supported the case, and we look forward to S4C will be implementing its plans to commission high-quality programming from the independent production sector in a multi-platform media landscape.
“Overall however a two-year freeze in the TV licence fee will create significant difficulties for the BBC which, as a world leading media organisation, does very important work in supporting the UK’s creative industries.
“This generates huge economic and cultural value including for Wales and we have great concerns about this decision and the effect it will have on the creative industries at a time when they are still recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.” Wales Online