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Concerns over delayed appointments at S4C and BBC

12 Apr 2024 4 minute read
interim S4C Chair Guto Bebb. Picture by Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0).

Martin Shipton

Concerns are mounting within the Welsh broadcasting industry about a delay in appointing a new Chair of S4C and the fact that Wales no longer has a representative on the main BBC board.

April 11 at 7pm was supposed to be the deadline for applications for the S4C post – but about an hour before the deadline was reached, it was extended by a fortnight until April 25.

Meanwhile, Dame Elan Closs Stephens ceased to be Wales’ member of the BBC Board when her term came to an end in March. So far, there has been no sign of an announcement about her successor.

A Welsh broadcasting industry insider said: “There is no explanation, but I think that it is fair to surmise that they haven’t got any applicants that they consider to be suitable.

“Incidentally, the interim Chair Guto Bebb, [the former Tory MP for Aberconwy] has told BBC Radio Cymru that he would not be applying for the full-time position.

“In the meantime, there is silence from DCMS [the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport] on the appointment of a Wales Board Member to the BBC. Interviews were held back in early February and Dame Elan Closs Stephens departed in March, so as things stand Wales has no representative on the BBC Board. Considering how far in advance the Government knew when Elan would be departing, it is staggering that it has failed to appoint a replacement in good time.”


A notice on the UK Government’s website states that the application deadline for the role of S4C Chair is now 7pm on April 25. The time commitment is two days per week, the salary is £40k per year and the specified skills are “change management, commercial, technology / digital.”

The last S4C Chair, Rhodri Williams, left at the end of March following what was the broadcaster’s biggest personnel crisis since it was set up in 1982. The trade union BECTU wrote to the S4C Board alleging there was a toxic culture within the organisation, with bullying rife. The Board appointed Cardiff law firm Capital Law to conduct a six-months-long investigation which concluded that staff had been bullied by the chief executive Sian Doyle. Ms Doyle was dismissed for gross misconduct in November 2023.

In February 2024 S4C’s Board published an Action Plan which said: “The Capital Law Report raised serious issues and some of these still require attention. We are committed to ensuring that S4C is a place where our colleagues feel respected, supported, and motivated to perform at their best. We are acutely aware that significant work is required to restore confidence and trust in S4C as an organisation amongst our staff and our stakeholders in the creative sector.

“We must ensure that S4C staff feel the utmost confidence that any concerns they may raise will be dealt with, and one of our priorities moving forward is ensuring a culture of open communication to that end.

“Working closely with the S4C Management Team, a programme will be implemented to ensure positive cultural change wherever needed within the organisation.

“We will review S4C’s purpose and values, with input from S4C staff at all levels of the organisation. We will also look at how we communicate our primary objectives to enable clearer communication of our strategy. This will ensure that staff feel ownership of the organisation’s values, understand our corporate strategy and their role in delivering it.”


The DCMS did not want to comment on the record, but sent us background notes which stated:

* The Broadcasting Act 1990 sets out how the S4C Chair is appointed. This process is being run in line with the Governance Code for Public Appointments. It is an open and well-established process that is used across government for hundreds of public appointments every year.

* The BBC Royal Charter sets out the process for appointing a Member for Wales and is expected to be put to the next meeting of the Privy Council for approval.

* As per the Charter, the appointment of a BBC Member for Wales cannot be put to the Privy Council without the agreement of Welsh Government Ministers.

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1 month ago

The cosey club of the great and the good will wish to see a safe pair of hands soon to continue their small world of chums and family is looked after.

1 month ago

This will be interesting.
They put Tory supporters at the top of the BBC. The political trend of the BBC at the moment is don’t rock the boat with Tory interviewees, I see this across the whole of the BBC output with a few exceptions. Emily Maitlis talk at the MacTaggart lecture is absolutely spot on and a shining light on what is going on.

Now I expect that Conservative think tanks have been mulling over how to game this. Time will tell, I hope it is a good pick and the person chosen will do a good job.

1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

Martin Shipton wrote about exactly that last week re S4C being on a list by RW think tank Policy Exchange.
I dread the thought that either former SoS David Jones (so awful he was sacked by Cameron) or current SoS the utterly noxious David (TC) Davies, both Welsh speakers, might be parachuted into the post and that the other will join the BBC Board.

Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

Both major parties always put “ fellow travellers “ in these positions – drawn from the same shallow pool of what they like to think of as “ talent “ 🥹.

1 month ago
Reply to  Richard E

I don’t think I have ever seen such a political bent applied to and by the BBC as I have in the last 8 years or so. Then you see Sunaks old boss shoe horned in around the time Johnson was sniffing after 800k. Let alone Dacre after OFCOM top slot. With the rise of think tank policy makers, control of the press is something they will be pushing the Cons to do (not forgetting Murdoch has No10 back door key and he will not like the BBC as it stands……) The amount of so called balance on programs like… Read more »

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