UK Government’s Culture Department “undermined” own case for control over broadcasting
Y Byd yn ei Le, S4C
The UK Government’s Culture Department has “undermined the case” for keeping control of broadcasting in Westminster, according to the Welsh Conservatives’ Culture spokesperson.
Tom Giffard, the South Wales West MS, told S4C’s Byd yn ei Le programme there’s been a “lack of interest” by successive UK Culture Secretaries in the Welsh language channel.
His comments come as it emerged the channel’s Chair, Rhodri Williams, hasn’t been called to a single meeting with a UK Culture Secretary since his appointment in 2020 – despite his requests.
Calls to step down
The Chair is currently facing calls by MPs and Senedd Members to step down at the end of his term, in March, following concerns over the work culture at the channel.
Tom Giffard is a member of the Senedd Culture Committee, who today added their voice to Westminster’s Welsh Affairs Committee’s calls for the Chair to step down.
But Mr Giffard was also critical of his own party’s lack of engagement with S4C in Westminster after it came to light that not one of the four Culture Secretaries since 2020 had called a meeting with the Chair since his appointment.
“It is astounding. I can’t excuse it. It’s clear to me that there’s not enough interest from the DCMS Secretaries over the last four years.
“We’ve heard today from Rhodri Williams that he asked for a meeting with Secretaries, but it didn’t happen.
“I think the best place for this responsibility (over broadcasting) is in Westminster, but if the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) don’t show enough interest in it, maybe we need to look at that again.”
He added, the situation “undermined the case for that responsibility being in Westminster.”
He also agreed with calls for the Welsh Government to have a formal role in appointing the next Chair of S4C – DCMS currently holds this power.
“If this scandal happened in the BBC or Channel 4, DCMS would do something about it – it hasn’t happened in the case of S4C.
“If DCMS isn’t going to show interest in this, maybe there’s a role for the Welsh Government here.”
Responding to criticisms, Welsh Secretary David TC Davies told Y Byd yn ei Le that he and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer met with the Senedd’s Deputy Minister for Arts, Dawn Bowden, on Wednesday, and that the “DCMS will make a decision on who will be the next Chair of S4C very, very soon.”
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