NUJ calls for a campaign for a properly funded S4C as UK government cuts £7m from the Welsh-language broadcaster
5 April 2018
The NUJ's Welsh executive council has raised serious concerns about the UK government's decision to end its funding for the Welsh language S4C, with its income having to come from the licence fee within four years.
It has put forward a motion to the union's Delegate Meeting this month calling for a campaign with politicians, broadcasters and civic groups to secure "a vibrant and properly resourced S4C, funded and managed in Wales, and overseen by the Welsh Government and Assembly".
Following a review of the broadcaster by Euryn Ogwen Williams, S4C's former director of programmes, Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said he would be accepting its recommendations, including the creation of a new unitary board comprising executive and non-executive directors, greater freedom to generate commercial revenue, new duties on its reach to Welsh speakers and an updating of its public service remit to include digital and online services and remove current geographical broadcasting restrictions. He said: "I expect S4C to take immediate action to reprioritise existing resources and allocate new funding to take forward the reforms recommended in this review, particularly on improving its digital and commercial arms."
The station received 8 per cent (£6.672m) of its £84m budget from the UK government. Huw Jones, S4C chair, said he welcomed "the government's wish to secure S4C's funding stability for the long term".
Ken Smith, chair of the Welsh Executive Council (WEC), said:
“The National Union of Journalists is very concerned about future funding for both S4C and BBC Wales, given the Westminster government’s announcement that nearly £7 million will be lost from the Welsh-language broadcaster’s budget by 2022. The idea that this move will usher in a period of 'certainty and stability' for S4C and BBC Wales is doubtful in the extreme.
We want politicians and broadcasters in Wales to join with us to campaign for a vibrant and properly resourced S4C, funded and managed in Wales, and overseen by the Welsh Government and Assembly. The further cut in S4C’s budget comes on top of nearly £20 million’s worth in the past decade and BBC Wales has had substantial cuts in jobs and provision in the same period. So we do not see how this move can result in stronger public-sector broadcasting in Wales at a time when it is so badly needed."
Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant secretary, said:
"I share the deep concerns of our WEC. This development is very worrying and cannot be dressed up as ‘good news’ for Wales. The NUJ demands proper funding for S4C and we will work with community groups and civic society to secure proper resources.”