Sport

Moving rugby off S4C ‘pricing Wales out of its own culture’ say Plaid Cymru

15 Oct 2021 4 minutes Read
The national stadium. Picture by zoonabar / Chris Brown (CC BY 2.0).

The decision to move Wales’ rugby matches off S4C and on to Amazon Prime has left the people of Wales “priced out of our own culture”, Plaid Cymru has said.

It’s been confirmed that fans of Welsh rugby will not be able to watch Wales’ autumn international matches on free-to-air television. Matches will only be televised live on Amazon Prime, which sits behind a paywall.

This marks a change from previous matches, which have been available to watch live on S4C, which is free-to-air. Amazon Prime will be providing commentary in both English and Welsh languages.

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for sport, Heledd Fychan MS however said that it set a “dangerous precedent for the future of sports broadcasting in Welsh” and “also raises questions about the future of S4C”.

“Not only have S4C lost the right to broadcast Welsh rugby matches, but it puts in place a model that could be adopted by other broadcasters in the future,” she said.

“The red button offer from Amazon is a gesture at best. If you do not already pay for Amazon prime, you will still need to pay to watch in Welsh. And what about pubs and clubs that have always shown the games in Welsh?

“All games from our national teams should be free to watch on S4C. Welsh rugby belongs to everyone in Wales – we must not be priced out of our own culture.”

‘Risk to the language’

Their comments come after S4C’s Chief Executive said that the loss of the rights to Amazon was a “retrograde step”.

“Does S4C welcome this? No we bloody don’t, to be honest,” he told the Senedd’s culture committee on Wednesday.

“Certainly, we don’t, and for several reasons. Sport is important for S4C because sport brings a great deal of viewers into the channel. It’s an opportunity for us to cross-advertise the content of S4C for an audience that doesn’t often come into contact with that content.

“What Amazon has done is they’ve come in – and who blames them, they’re a private company – they’ve decided they are going to take on this. I think it’s a retrograde step for us in Wales.”

He went on to argue that Wales’ rugby matches should be considered one of those which legislation ensures is kept on a free-to-view channel.

“In future, Amazon might decide ‘well, we’re going to provide a programme in Welsh’,” he said. “What they’re trying to do, then, is to freeze us out of the traditional system that we have.

“That’s just a small example of what is likely to happen in the coming years, and where S4C would decide ‘well, we’ll have the rugby programme but we’ll have programmes around that and draw the audience in’, I don’t know whether Amazon is going to do that same thing.

“What I’m concerned about is there’s the Welsh offer, even though it’ll be a high-quality offer for the programme, it’ll just sit there and it will ensure they don’t share the audience. That’s what Amazon is really good at doing.

“In future, I think there is a risk to the language and a risk to channels such as S4C, but also for BBC and ITV, that are competing for these rights, that people come to where public service broadcasters traditionally are very strong and then will freeze us out of that space.

“Certainly, S4C isn’t welcoming what is happening. We’ve welcomed the fact that we’ve had some highlights of programmes. Certainly, we would much prefer to have had that live broadcast.”

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Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

I do not think Amazon can be blamed or faulted here. The blame/ fault lies with the WRU and other unions who sold CVC Capital partners, a private equity company, 14% of the rites to the 6 nations, and gave them the broadcasting rites, which they in turn have passed to Amazon. CVC are in this for a profit, as are Amazon, so when the unions decided to sell up, this is the result.

Robert Williams
Robert Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Amazon can’t be blamed in the same sense that fleas can’t be blamed for biting you. That doesn’t mean you have to like fleas. Fleas are programmed to suck blood, Amazon to suck revenue and to seek monopoly. This is a dreadful decision made by the WRU, but in the context of dreadful decisions made by millions of us to buy ANYTHING from Amazon.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

TBH international rugby should be on the reserved list in Wales, should be free to air… it’s not as if we really benefit much from the English Grand National horse race or the English FA football cup(OK maybe that one perhaps for some PPL)… The whole point is to protect acces to nationally important sporting events…

Gareth W
Gareth W
1 month ago

Another pleasure of ordinary people gobbled up by corporate greed. Greed at the expense of an audience. Will rugby follow football in paying obscene levels of salaries to their players in the future? Fans are becoming an afterthought

George Bodley
George Bodley
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth W

Thats why i no longer follow / support rugby too much money in it now followers /fans being treated as non entities /cash cows

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

Don’t do Amazon, got off Facebook (try it, not easy).
Spectator sport is now a shirt-selling operation.
Instead, walk to country pub and have lunch.
(Archery should be our national sport?)

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 month ago
Reply to  j humphrys

Or darts perhaps? Then you could enjoy the pub and the national game!

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 month ago

The bottom line is that it is still cheaper to pay an Amazon Prime subscription for a year than take a family of three to even one Autumn international. Factor in travel costs, food, drink, an hour to get exit the car park before the drive home, or queue to get on a full train. Attending a rugby international stopped being a pleasure many years ago and just left me feeling I was a daft sheep being used to fund the the WRU.

George Bodley
George Bodley
1 month ago

Wru greedy again

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Boycott everything that Amazon does – it is actually possible.

Jeff Bezos wasting his money (which ultimately comes from consumers) playing at being a spaceman when we have a climate emergency is reason enough by itself to boycott Amazon.

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
1 month ago

Another good reason to stop paying your EBC TV licence OPS BBC licence if you live in Wales

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