‘Welsh Government missed an opportunity’ by refusing devolution of S4C say language activists
Welsh language activists have said that the Welsh Government “missed an opportunity” after it was revealed that they were offered the devolution of S4C some years ago.
The former First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, revealed this week that the UK Government had proposed the devolution of S4C to Wales ten years ago.
He told BBC Radio Cymru’s Hawl i Holi programme that they would have accepted the offer made by then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt had the money been there.
However the channel was offered “without a budget and without a penny,” he said.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith however said that the Welsh Government should have accepted the offer and explored alternative means of financing the Welsh language channel.
Carl Morris, chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith broadcasting campaign group said: “It’s been obvious for years that the Westminster Government is not interested in S4C. In 2010 it cut S4C’s funding significantly and the channel’s funding now comes through the BBC; S4C also has to share a number of resources with the BBC. So it’s not much surprise Westminster wants to wash their hands of the channel.
“But the Welsh Government missed an opportunity, and S4C has faced further cuts in the meantime. Although funding would not be provided, there would have been other ways to fund the channel, such as a tax on internet and telecommunications providers or a levy on streaming companies. Internet and telecommunications providers in particular continue to see a significant increase in their profits, and the money raised could be used to advance Welsh broadcasting.
“We really need more Welsh material online and for it to be more visible and we have recommended the creation of a Menter Ddidgiol Gymraeg (a Welsh digital initiative) to do this work. The money from taxes or a levy could be used for that as well.
“Powers for raising taxes would also need to be devolved to Wales in order to do so of course. But if the Government really wanted responsibility for S4C and Welsh broadcasting they would have found a way.”
Speaking on Hawl i Holi, Carwyn Jones said that if the money had been offered, he would have agreed to devolve the channel.
“If a sustainable source had been available, why wouldn’t we have taken it? But there wasn’t, and that’s what the problem was,” he said.
He added that it was “easy enough for the Westminster Government to say that this is a Welsh language channel, so you should run it, but without the money, without any penny to put into the budget, it’s not realistic.”
A spokesperson for the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport suggested to Newyddion S4C that the offer was no longer on the table.
They said that it “makes sense for a clear and consistent broadcasting policy to be run nationally by the UK Government so that the people of a nation and region can keep the investment and the net benefits it offers”.
“We are committed to continuing to support S4C’s vital role in protecting the Welsh language and its culture and the economy, including through a strong funding settlement.”
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