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Confusion remains on s4c funding procedure

06/10/2021

Continued cross-party support for S4C welcomed

Plaid Cymru peer, Dafydd Wigley, yesterday (Wednesday) received cross-party support from back-benchers as he quizzed House of Lords Ministers on governmental discussions about Welsh language television channel, S4C.

Lord Wigley outlined the contrary positions between the UK Government allowing the BBC to determine S4C’s funding from 2015 onwards whilst the UK Government put in place legislation that makes themselves responsible for ensuring adequate funding of the world’s only Welsh language channel.

He asked whether the UK Government would contribute the shortfall to S4C if the BBC provided a less than adequate funding agreement to the channel.

Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour peers all spoke to support S4C and express their concern to the UK Government.

Lord Wigley said:

“There is a great deal of confusion about exactly how S4C’s funding is intended to operate.

“On the one hand, the UK Government have handed over the decision making responsibility for funding S4C to the BBC, yet on the other they will have a statutory duty to ensure that S4C is given sufficient funding, according to the Secretary of State’s opinion – whatever that means!

“My question was quite simple – if there is a gap between the two figures then will the UK Government cover it, but no clear answer came back in return.

“I shall be writing to the Minister to ask her to clarify her comments.

“I am glad that the defence of S4C remains a cross-party campaign, with very welcome support in the House of Lords from Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour members of the second chamber.

“My strong feeling is still that S4C should be removed from this Bill entirely and I would welcome an independent review of the channel, as supported by all four parties in Wales but ignored by the Con-Dem government in London.

“My hope is that the UK Government recognise the depth of feeling on this issue in Wales and see sense before the final vote on the Bill during the Autumn.”

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House of Lords Hansard (5 Oct 2021)
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/111005-0001.htm#11100539000235

Lord Wigley: My Lords, as the Secretary of State has recently laid an amendment to the BBC framework agreements stating that after 2015 it will be a matter for the BBC to determine how much funding it will give to S4C from the licence fee, and as the Government have also recently tabled an amendment to the Public Bodies Bill putting responsibility on to the Secretary of State to ensure that S4C is adequately funded after 2015, will the Minister confirm that after 2015 the Government will determine year-on-year how much funding S4C needs and will make up any shortfall in the money provided by the BBC?

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, wrote to the Secretary of State on 14 September on these and similar points. As the noble Lord knows, the next Committee sitting on the Public Bodies Bill in

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the other place will be on 11 October, and that will cover S4C. We understand and appreciate the noble Lord's concerns about the financial provisions of S4C and its ministerial independence. I can reassure him that following the government amendment in the other place which he mentioned, the Bill now places a duty on the Secretary of State to make certain that S4C is funded at a level sufficient to meet its statutory remit. This provision will provide security for S4C's long-term future.