Thursday, 4 November 2010

Who wants to run a tv station?

History does have a habit of repeating itself. Ministers and broadcasting are a case and point. A new Conservative government is elected with a manifesto commitment to do one thing, civil servants get to the new Ministers and the commitment is quietly dropped and said Minister does the opposite. The natives get agitated, protests occur and then the government have second thoughts and do an U turn.  Familiar, well that’s how S4C came about.

Now for the action replay. A new Government is elected with a new minister. He is encouraged by his civil servants to cut the budget, and just as night follows day, a row breaks out. There is a knee jerk reaction and a new method of funding is found  using the TV licence to pay for the channel . No, not directly but with a tranche of cash from the BBC.

Welsh politicians have now pitched in on S4Cs behalf wanting David Cameron to launch an independent inquiry into the channel. Their fear is that the future of S4C as an independent television channel is very much up in the air.

Now in good financial times everyone was happy to let S4C to plough its own furrow. But now that the proverbial, has hit the fans they are all trying desperately hard to find a way out. A way out, that is, that prevents the future of the channel becoming a political football just before the Assembly election.

A cynic might contrast the inaction by the Assembly government on S4C over the years and the frenetic activity now as a direct response to the source of the money.. Could it be down to the fact that there is money  floating about  that is not coming from the Assembly’s own pockets but from us as licence fee payers?

For years the mediocre performance of the channel has scarcely raised an eyebrow but now it seems that everyone has a view.

Indeed yesterday the Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones, and Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, held frank discussions at a special forum in Cardiff with the movers and shakers of the industry to discuss concerns over the future governance and funding of the channel.

And what came out of the meeting  ‘the need to maintain and protect the independence of S4C. The channel should continue as an independent broadcaster with its own budget and be able to make its own editorial and governance decisions’. Well, no surprises there then.

The truth of the matter is that no matter what structure is adopted, how much money is thrown at the channel and how many politicians interfere, unless the channel starts making programmes that ordinary people want to watch – it will all end in tears.

So let them stop making programmes for the Pontcanna and eisteddfod elite, and start making programmes that the rest of us, the great unwashed, can enjoy. So lets scrap Crachach TV and set up the Werin TV.


  1. I've read some glib posts in my time but this takes the biscuit.

    If you think it's easy to make programmes that the 'great unwashed' want to see, especially ones in a minority language, then why not have a crack at it?

    After all, being a Welsh political pundit can't mean you're too busy to jot down a few programme ideas & sending them to Parc Ty Glas (while it's still there).

    I know you're a soccer fan, like many of the 'Werin'- funny that one of the programmes that apparently had zero viewers was 'Sgorio'.

  2. Agree totally, S4C is patronising to anybody who is not born into a first language family. Learners! Not a sign of being helpful but a sign of stigma. Rude about anything not in y Fro eg Ty Cymraeg - good programme but very elitist. I remember programmes from Merthyr (what are we doing here?) and Presteigne (its very good with a tone of surprise for a place on the border).

    Decent programming from BBC why not let BBC take over and have one infrastructure. And where is the ITV contribution as well?

  3. Gareth:
    "So let them stop making programmes for the Pontcanna and eisteddfod elite"
    Can you tell me which programmes you are referring to?

  4. At 9 o clock in the evening, what is peak viewing time a programme about a poet. C'mon if that's not for the eisteddfod elite what is!

  5. So is poetry an elitist pastime Gareth, is that what you mean?

    I mean, the other 9 o clock show is Cefn Gwlad, which goes and visit a agriculture market. Is that elitist programming?

  6. I mean c'mon gareth. I am currently reading the book of poetry by William Jones, a famous poet from Nebo.
    Spent his life as a sheep farmer. But because he wrote poetry, does that make him elitist?

    You just made some simple assumptions.