New Welsh Conservative Senedd members write to UK Government asking for extra S4C funding
Two Welsh Conservative Senedd Members have written to the UK Government asking for extra funding for S4C.
The UK Government is currently in the process of deciding how much money S4C should have for the 2022-27 period. In 2010 the channel was handed a 36% budget cut.
However, two new Conservative MS, Samuel Kurtz and Tom Giffard, have written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport asking him to boost the channel’s funding.
In the letter to Oliver Dowden MP they say that whilst fulfilling a similar public service broadcaster role to the BBC, S4C is different due to the cultural role that it plays in being the sole Welsh language channel.
“Due to its unique nature, it is also unable to achieve the same global business development and sales opportunities that the BBC can,” they say.
“The value that S4C plays in both the Welsh culture and economy is demonstrated by the fact that for every £1 it receives in funding it generates £2.03 to the wider economy and for every £1 provided to the channel, 86p is returned to HM Treasury.
“To continue to provide the service that it does, the contribution it makes to Welsh life along with expanding into new media delivery channels, S4C estimate that they require extra funding to the sum of £10 million per annum and the retention of the annual increases in CPI.
“We hope that consideration can be given to further supporting Wales’ only Welsh language broadcaster so that it may continue to play a vital role in the development of the language and in supporting the country’s key cultural events.”
Samuel Kurtz is Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs and the Welsh Language and Tom Giffard is Shadow Minister for Culture Tourism and Sport.
Meanwhile, language campaigners have said that this year should be the “last time” that the Westminster government is in charge of deciding on S4C’s financial settlement.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith has now written to the UK Minister for Media and Data, John Whittingdale MP, calling for broadcasting powers to be transferred to Wales.
They want responsibility over the channel devolved to the Welsh Government and a fair financial settlement for the channel.
The chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Digital Group, Elfed Wyn Jones, said that S4C deserves much more than “crumbs from the Westminster Government”.
“It deserves a fair financial settlement that recognises the linguistic and cultural contribution that it makes, and a settlement that enables the channel’s continued success. This is the last time that S4C should have to beg DCMS for a fair financial settlement every five years.
“The only way we can ensure a fair financial settlement for S4C in the long term is by transferring broadcasting powers to Wales. Cross-party consensus exists in Wales in favour of devolving S4C and broadcasting powers to Wales, following the publication of the Culture Committee’s report on the issue in March.
“Not only this, but 65% of the people of Wales support the transfer of broadcasting powers to Wales. The Westminster Government should respect the wishes of the people of Wales and allow us to decide S4C’s financial settlement, as well as broadcasting policy as a whole, for ourselves.”
Research published in April suggested that S4C is worth more than twice as much to the economy as it gets in funding, research has revealed.
In its last financial year, 2020-21, the channel received £74.5m from the BBC licence fee and £21.85m from the UK Government.
However, work by Arad Research showed that it had a total economic impact of £197.4m in 2019-20. Of its total impact, some £141.1m was felt in the Welsh economy, with £18.2m in Carmarthenshire where the channel is headquartered alone.
That consisted of a £96.7m direct impact from its spending on goods, services and wages, including those of freelancers, as well as an indirect impact of £800,000 from its anchor tenancy of the Yr Egin creative industries building in Carmarthen.
Its expenditure generated further demand and employment which support an estimated 2,334 UK employees and freelancers, of which 2,229 were estimated as being based in Wales and 245 in Carmarthenshire.
S4C’s chief executive, Owen Evans, told Business Wales: “This is an extremely important one [research] for us as the results have been included in our submission to the UK Government’s Department of Digital Technology, Culture, Media and Sport as part of a debate over S4C’s financial settlement from April 2022 onwards.
“There’s never been any doubt in my mind about the importance of S4C to the Welsh economy. The fact that S4C can have an impact on the UK economy also, as well as an impact in Wales and in Carmarthenshire in particular through our headquarters at Canolfan S4C Yr Egin is hugely encouraging.
“The relocation from Llanishen to Yr Egin ensured that S4C was at the forefront of creating job opportunities in West Wales and I’m extremely proud that we now have offices in Caernarfon, Carmarthen and Cardiff. This shows the positive impact of S4C throughout the whole of Wales.“