S4C defends near doubling of losses in last financial year
S4C has blamed “market factors” and “inflationary pressures” for the near doubling of its overall loss in the financial year 2022-23.
The accounts of the Welsh language broadcaster show that it lost £4.77m in comparison with £2.48m in the previous accounting period.
A spokesman for S4C said: “The movement in profit and loss figures are a combination of market factors impacting our commercial investments and inflationary pressures.”
The broadcaster also defended rising costs in specific areas of the business. Spending on its general fund increased by more than double, from £147k to £368k. S4C’s spokesman said: “The increased costs include professional fees to establish the new commercial strategy and legal fees on the sale of S4C’s former site at Parc Ty Glas in Cardiff.”
There was a big rise in the executive management team’s expense claims, from £15,723 to £44,814.
The S4C spokesman said: “During 2022-23 a number of ambitious projects were developed in terms of content and our commercial strategy. This investment, and the new partnerships formed, led to numerous deals that benefited S4C viewers and brought Welsh content to a wider audience.
“This resulted in securing the rights to Cymru’s men international matches, free to air on S4C until 2028, and the signing of a commercial output deal with Ryan Reynolds’ Maximum Effort Channel in the US to show Welsh language programming on ‘Welsh Wednesdays’.”
Explaining a 50% rise in the recorded salary of executive Gerain Evans from £80k to £120k, S4C said: “In 22/23 Mr Evans joined the S4C management team in a permanent move to a key role. The salary reflects this change.”
S4C also said there need be no need for concern about the fact its top eight most viewed programmes were sport, that in ninth place was a dubbed cartoon, that the 10th most watched programme was Googlebocs Cymru, which was originally created in English and format licensed, and that the 11th most popular programme was also sport. The first original production of Welsh origin in the list came in at number 12 – coverage of the National Eisteddfod.
The S4C spokesman said: “The number of weekly viewers watching S4C in Wales is up 8% on last year, the highest figures for the broadcaster in five years. The figures also include the largest proportion of younger viewers for a decade, with S4C bucking the trend of other broadcasters.
“Our engaging content has led to growth on all our platforms, our strong performance among younger viewers and our success in selling programmes internationally.
“Over the years sport programmes have consistently dominated the lists of S4C’s most viewed content. We are proud of our success in securing sports rights and are grateful for the excellent coverage supplied by our partners in the sector. Sport plays an important role in bringing a new diverse audience to S4C’s content. S4C can rightly call itself the ‘Home of Welsh sport’ – ‘Cartref chwaraeon Cymru’.”
Asked why, given the emphasis on sports programmes, there had been an increase in the number of commissioning roles from 12 to 16, the S4C spokesman said: “This section [of the annual report] refers to a wide range of roles within the commissioning department and includes support staff. This change reflects S4C’s growing emphasis on creating engaging content across all our platforms. It also takes into account the development of our digital news service. To facilitate this shift, we have reinvested headcount from other departments.”
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, S4C used to hold public meetings up and down the country where viewers could put questions to executives. Asked why the practice had not been resumed, S4C said: “This work is primarily done through the Viewers’ Panel which offers detailed qualitative data and feedback from a cross section of the audience.”
Asked why the amount of digital material published apart from on social media had declined from 73 hours with a total estimated value of £1.699m in 2021/22 to 58 hours with an estimated value of £1.834m in 2022-23, the spokesman said: “The 58 hours is a decrease on digital only commissioned content, but it doesn’t include the hours of content distributed on our social media platforms and YouTube.
“The number of hours also doesn’t include livestreaming from events such as the Urdd Eisteddfod, the Royal Welsh Show and the National Eisteddfod.
“Over the last year S4C saw a near doubling of hours watched on YouTube. Viewing on S4C Clic and BBC iPlayer was up by 10% over the same period.”
S4C is currently awaiting the report of an external legal practice, Capital Law, into allegations of bullying and harassment.
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