Saturday, October 23, 2010

Where's the beef in the S4C dispute

The National Assembly Government's Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones is a reasonable man. Always thought so. So I'm interested in what he's been saying about the new funding deal for S4C. And I don't mean the ritual Tory-knocking stuff that is required of every Plaid Cymru spokesperson. Need to look behind that.

Most outrage seems to be aimed at the lack of consultation with the S4C Board about the role of BBC funding of the Welsh Language channel. Its a fair point to make, but I'd like to make two what I'll refer to as 'observations'. Firstly, according to people 'in the know' like Tomos Livingstone of the Western Mail, the decision came 'out of the blue' , and at the last minute. I certainly didn't know - and why should I have known? Suggests that there might not have been time for consultation before the CSR was signed off. And secondly, there would inevitably have been concern about confidentiality - since previous discussions at private meetings between the Culture Secretary and Plaid Cymru seemed to have become public within minutes. Alun Ffred thinks it was wrong to conclude the funding agreement in what he describes as 'a couple of days'. Perhaps he should spare a thought for the alternative, which is what I and others had been working at for days. Some, who do not have a political axe to grind, take a more circumspect view of things.

Alun Fred seems to have one major concern - the editorial independence of S4C. Well I agree with him. I don't want to see the BBC being in a position to dominate S4C either. No-one does. (Which is why I had some concerns about the joint arrangements that the two channels were already developing.) I hope we can satisfy this concern through legislation. Seems to me that if you strip out the politics, there is not much difference of opinion between us. Not sure which of us should be the most worried about this.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

I think the attack line in your blog about the discussions between plaid and Jeremy Hunt being leaked, according to you, as a potential reason for no consultation simply do not stack up.

Whatever is true on any potential leaks out of respect, the agenda that the tories claim their backing, DCMS should have given a heads up to WAG. More so there wasn't even consultation with S4C. S4C chief executive said the first he heard of the deal was when he heard about it on the radio. Essentially DCMS had told the media before even telling S4C. That simply is unnacceptable.