Wednesday, August 12, 2015

S4C lobbying campaign

Had a stack of identical emails over the last week or so, demanding changes to the way S4C is funded. They have clearly all been written by the same hand, before being circulated and forwarded to me. And I don't know quite how to respond either. I sympathise with the underlying objective, which is a viable Welsh Language TV channel. But because the 'demand' is totally undeliverable, the campaign is devalued, and will have a much reduced impact.
I agree with most of the email content. I know that S4C is hugely important to Welsh culture and our Welsh Language. I know the channel was set up by the first Thatcher Govt after much campaigning. I also know that many seek to suggest Mrs T was forced into it - like she was easily forced into anything!! I know the key decision by Mrs T's Govt was to put in place funding arrangements that guaranteed success. She has never been given due credit.
And of course I remember the painful changes implemented by the Coalition Govt in 2010, when confronted by a bare cupboard. Reducing the S4C budget. That was inevitable. Breaking the inflation link. That was inevitable too. Transfer of  funding most of the S4C budget to the licence fee. Accepted that as better than the alternative. No reason to think independence has been compromised, as was feared by some at the time.
But now we face another challenge, as the Government considers BBC Charter Review, against background of continued public spending cutbacks. Personally I do not think the S4C budget should be further reduced. Personally I do not think the Government should transfer it's remaining financial commitment to the licence fee. And personally, I do not think broadcasting (and associated funding) should be devolved to the Welsh Government. Though this view could change if the broadcasters supported it.
This should put me on the same side as my correspondents. But the emails end up demanding a return to 2010 levels of funding, and re-establishment of the inflation link. This is fantasy. So it's an unrealistic campaign which undermines the best efforts of those of us who actually support the argument for a well funded Welsh Language TV channel. Disappointing.

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