TAC says S4C Review comes at a ‘critical’ time for its future

7 August 2017

TAC today welcomed the commencement of the independent Review of S4C, the first since 2004.

Chair Iestyn Garlick said: “This Review comes at a critical time for S4C, as a continued fall in real terms funding means the rate of repeats on the main channel has now risen to 63%.

“S4C’s unique relationship with the independent production sector in Wales enables it to deliver a range of high-quality programmes. But an increase in fresh programming is critical to attract audiences, and TAC is therefore calling for a one-time 10% rise in the total level of its public funding, which must also be linked to inflation.”

“S4C’s independence should be maintained and strengthened, with no formal commitment to report to the BBC, and its remit should ensure that the vast majority of its programmes come from the diverse group of production companies spread throughout Wales.”

“We welcome Euryn Ogwen Williams being asked to lead the review. His knowledge of the independent production sector should stand him in good stead in making sure that S4C’s partnership with our sector goes from strength to strength.”

-ENDS-

Contact:               Tim Wilson – 07909 560374

Iestyn Garlick – 07974 184764

Notes

  1. TAC is the trade association which represents the independent TV production sector in Wales, which is comprised of over 40 companies making TV content for all the UK Public Service networks, plus BBC Wales and S4C, as well as being involved in international co-productions. Like all current content production companies, TAC’s members work across online platforms and many also make radio, including for national BBC stations Radio Wales and Radio Cymru. More on the TAC website.
  2. TAC has campaigned for S4C’s public funding to be protected since 2010, when a change in funding arrangements removed its £100m+ inflation-linked grant and instead provided most of its funding from the TV Licence Fee, along with a grant from DCMS. At the same time, S4C’s overall public funding was reduced by a level calculated as 36% in real terms.
  3. TAC’s policy priorities for the S4C Review are on page 2 of this release:

TAC Policy Priorities – What the Review of S4C must deliver:

  1. Funding:
    • S4C’s repeat figures are now 63%. This is unacceptable, and a 10% increase in public funding is needed to commission more content
    • This means 10% of the combined total of public funding sources, the current total of which stands at around £82m, consisting of c. £75m from TVLF + c. £6.7m from DCMS
    • TAC wants an extra £8.2m on top of the £6m that S4C say they need for developing on digital platforms, giving S4C the right to produce digital output officially, and have the necessary funding to do this
    • S4C’s public funding must also be linked to inflation (as the BBC’s funding now is).
  1. Maintaining Independence:
    • S4C should not be answerable to another broadcaster, namely the BBC, as it currently is. The TV Licence Fee funds allocated to S4C should go directly to the S4C Authority or Ofcom, not via the BBC
    • Maintaining S4C prominence on the EPG is core to reinforcing its identity as a separate and important service, like the other PSB providers
    • Governmental responsibility for S4C should remain at UK level. S4C is part of a wider UK broadcasting ecology. It should be seen in that context, and policy decisions made accordingly
    • TAC would support S4C having a separate unitary Board, like the BBC, but it may still need a separate regulator from Ofcom to reflect the specific circumstances around Wales. This regulator could in turn report to Ofcom but would need its own robust policy team
  1. A strong partnership with the independent TV production sector in Wales:
    • S4C relies on the independent production sector in Wales for its content (40-50 active companies), and cannot exist without it
    • The previous S4C-BBC Trust Operating Agreement (clause 2.6) stated that: ‘S4C should commission the vast majority of its content from independent production companies’ and that ‘[S4C’s commissions from the BBC] should only ever constitute a small proportion of the overall content commissioned by S4C’
    • As the Operating Agreement is no longer valid (following the abolition of BBC Trust), this requirement must be explicit in S4C’s core remit to ensure it has at its heart a commitment to maintain and grow the independent sector.
    • S4C should continue to be required to adhere to the TV Codes of Practice regulating the Terms of Trade, as per the Communications Act 2003 – these provisions, protecting independent producers’ intellectual property, are the basis of the UK’s outstanding success in TV production and exports over the last 10 years.

 

 

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