NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
S4C FUNDING ISSUE STILL LIVE
The (UK) government says that it is “committed to the future of Welsh language programming and to the future of S4C as a strong and independent Welsh TV srvice”, despite imposing high financial cuts on the only Welsh language television channel in the world and linking the service to the BBC Trust.
The comments, from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on behalf of Minister Jeremy Hunt, come in response to a letter sent to the Minister by the General Secretary of the Celtic League, Rhisiart Tal-e-bot. The Minister argues that the reduction of the (UK) fiscal deficit is the priority of the government
and that is why S4C’s funding was cut under the Comprehensive Spending Review. The position of the government has not persuaded activists, who have refused to renew their TV licences out of protest against the cuts.
Plaid Cymru Member of the European Parliament and Part President Jill Evans, is one of over a hundred people who will be facing court in the near future for refusing to pay their TV licence fee. At the Plaid conference last weekend delegates voted overwhelmingly to offer support “to those who choose in a personal capacity to make the decision to withhold their TV licence fee because
of their strength of feeling.”
The full text of the letter response sent to the General Secretary can be found below.
“Dear Mr Tal-e-bot
Thank you for your email of 30 August to the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, on behalf of the Celtic League, about S4C and Welsh Language broadcasting. I have been asked to reply on his behalf.
The Government is committed to the future of Welsh language programming and to the future of S4C as a strong and independent Welsh TV service, and it fully recognises the iconic status of the channel and the contribution it makes to the cultural and economic life of Wales. As well as sustaining and promoting the Welsh language, the channel provides a focal point for the celebration of Welsh national events. It is on this basis that the Government secured the future for S4C in the Comprehensive Spending Review.
The Government’s priority, however, has to be reduction of the fiscal deficit and that is why S4C’s funding was cut under the Comprehensive Spending Review. Guaranteed, inflation-proof funding from Government is untenable in the current fiscal climate.
The settlement is fair and the cuts in funding are proportionate to the cuts being made across Government departments. The settlement has secured S4C’s funding for the next four years and will enable S4C to structure itself for the modern broadcasting environment.
Government wants to ensure that S4C offers the best possible Welsh language service to its audience but believes that the S4C model is not sustainable in its present form. This is why the Government concluded that the best way to secure S4C’s future while delivering a better service is through a partnership
with the BBC. The outcome is that from 2013-14 the cost of S4C will be met from a combination of continued Exchequer funding, advertising revenue and the TV licence fee.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is working with S4C and the BBC Trust on the governance structure of the new partnership with the BBC Trust. Whilst it is still too early to announce any details, the Department can
reiterate the commitments given at the time of the Spending Review that S4C will remain as an independent service, retaining its brand identity and editorial distinctiveness. S4C’s special relationship with the independent production
sector in Wales will also be maintained, with 100% of S4C’s commissioning budget being spent in the independent sector, as now.
With regards to your comments about Local TV, you may be interested to know that the Government is currently consulting on the framework for local TV, and you may like to feed in your views. Details of the consultation, which closes on 23 September, can be found on our website:
Media Correspondence and Parliamentary
Ministerial Support Team
Department for Culture, Media and Sport |2-4 Cockspur Street |London |SW1Y 5DH
* jocelyn.betts@…|; www.culture.gov.uk ”
For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:
Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912
M: 0044 (0)7787318666
The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.
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