Welsh language and Gaelic TV programming boosted by new broadcasting law
Welsh and Gaelic speakers across the UK will benefit from easier access to their favourite TV shows under new legislation being debated in Westminster.
Decades-old broadcasting regulations are to be updated to reflect changes to how we watch television, with a renewed focus on supporting the provision of culturally relevant programming.
The Media Bill, which has its Second Reading today, will introduce simpler and more flexible rules for the types of TV programmes public service broadcasters are required to show in a new public service remit.
For the first time, minority language content will be included as part of the range of programmes public service broadcasters can offer to meet their obligations, reinforcing its importance in UK broadcasting law.
The remit of S4C will be modernised to include digital and online services, meaning Welsh content on apps and streamed online will now count towards meeting its requirements. Geographical broadcasting restrictions will also be removed, allowing more people to enjoy Welsh language content on new platforms wherever they are in the UK or around the world.
It is hoped that these measures will allow S4C to broaden its reach and adapt to changing viewing habits, supporting the Welsh economy, culture and society, and contribute towards the Welsh government’s ambition to see one million Welsh speakers by 2050.
Welsh and Gaelic language TV shows will also be among those promoted through new prominence rules for public service broadcast content online, requiring popular apps and programmes from the likes of the BBC and S4C to be made available for viewers to stream easily.
UK Media Minister Sir John Whittingdale said: “Our Media Bill will boost protections for the UK’s cultural heritage by offering audiences greater choice in how they can watch their favourite Welsh and Gaelic language shows, and enshrine the importance of these languages in broadcasting law for the first time.”
Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said: “I’m delighted to see provisions in the UK Government’s Media Bill which will benefit the production of Welsh language content and help S4C secure new audiences for the future. S4C play an absolutely vital role in promoting the Welsh language, which is such a fundamental part of our heritage and culture in Wales. And it’s great for audiences to be able to access Welsh content, wherever they live in the world.”
Rules requiring the BBC to provide S4C with ten hours of TV programming per week will be revised to reflect the changing way in which people access content. The BBC and S4C have agreed to work together on suitable new terms, ensuring S4C continues to serve Welsh speaking audiences.
These changes will address several recommendations made in the S4C’s independent review, Building an S4C for the Future, published in 2018.
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