S4C boss joins other CEOs in calling for UK Government to legislate so that major sporting events stay free-to-air
S4C CEO Siân Doyle has joined her counterparts at the BBC, ITV and STV in calling for the UK Government to secure the future of public service broadcasting, including keeping major sporting events on free-to-air television.
In a joint letter in the Telegraph alongside BBC Director General Tim Davie, ITV CEO Carolyn McCall, STV CEO Simon Pitts, and Paramount UK President Maria Kyriacou, she said that there were “vital measures needed to secure the future of British broadcasting and allow it to prosper”.
They warned that sporting events such as the Olympics and World Cup risk going behind a paywall unless the Government presses ahead with new legislation
To inspire the next generation of sporting greats “we need major sporting events to be available to all – free of charge, not hidden behind a paywall,” they said.
“We need to enable viewers to watch their favourites, such as the Fifa World Cup and Olympic and Paralympic Games, both live and on-demand.”
Currently, public service broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and S4C do not have guaranteed access to sporting events shown online rather than broadcast on TV, raising doubts about the future.
The letter goes on to remind the UK Government of its commitment to introduce a new media bill, following on from a white paper, launched by Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, in the spring.
“We are proud of the role public service broadcasters play as the bedrock of great British content – in drama, sport, comedy, documentaries, national and local news,” they said.
“We bring communities together for moments of national pride and commemoration. We commission 30,000 hours a year of original British content, from all nations and regions, for all tastes, in Welsh, Gaelic and English, and reach 90 per cent of British adults weekly.
“In 2019, before the Covid pandemic, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport estimated that the creative industries contributed £116 billion to the British economy – more than the aerospace, automotive, life sciences, oil and gas sectors combined. Last year, the sector bounced back almost to pre-pandemic levels, contributing over £100 billion.
“However, Britain’s media legislation hasn’t been updated since 2003. Urgent changes are required. In particular, there is a need to ensure that services like iPlayer, ITVX, All 4, My5, STV Player and S4C Clic are always available and easy to find for audiences across all major television platforms. This will allow us to continue to fund the high-quality content that audiences expect.
“Key elements of the Government’s proposed Media Bill will support public service broadcasters to provide consumers with trusted, impartial news and to stimulate investment in the creative economy.
“Recent events, like the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee reminded us of the importance of public service broadcasting. We urge the Government to deliver these key proposals to secure a successful future in a thriving British media and digital ecology.”
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