S4C

s4cS4C (Sianel Pedwar Cymru, meaning Channel 4 Wales), currently branded as S4/C, is a Welsh television channel broadcast from the capital, Cardiff.
The first television channel to be aimed specifically at a Welsh-speaking audience, it is (after BBC One, ITV, BBC Two and Sky1) the fifth oldest British television channel.

The channel – initially broadcast on analogue television – was bilingual (Welsh and English) with most of its English-language programming being either simultaneous or deferred broadcasts of Channel 4 programmes (analogue reception of which was unavailable in most of Wales). When digital television arrived several years later, a second channel was added: a 100% Welsh-language service, branded S4C Digidol (S4C Digital). The analogue version of S4C closed on 31 March 2010, when the Wenvoe transmitter completed the digital switchover. After this, S4C Digidol became the default S4C channel available across Wales available to Welsh viewers on cable, satellite and Freeview, broadcasting only in the Welsh language.

A high definition service called S4C Clirlun (clear picture), simulcasting S4C Digidol, began broadcasting on 30 April 2010 on Freeview channel 53 in Wales.
By the end of 2012, S4C has indicated that it plans to produce all of its programming in high definition.

Website: www.s4c.co.uk



History of S4C

Before the launch of S4C, Welsh speakers had been served by occasional programmes in Welsh broadcast as regional opt-outs on BBC Wales and HTV Cymru Wales (the ITV franchise in Wales), usually at off-peak or inconvenient times. This was unsatisfactory for Welsh speakers, who saw the arrangement as a sop, and also an annoyance for non-Welsh speakers, who found the English programmes seen in the rest of the UK often rescheduled or not transmitted at all. In 1962 the ITV network had created a licence area for North and West Wales, which was awarded to Wales (West and North) Limited. This traded as Teledu Cymru and provided significant levels of Welsh-language programming. However, problems with transmission infrastructure and poor market research led to financial difficulties within two years and the station was taken over by its neighbour Television Wales and West.

s4c-1995During the 1970s, Welsh language activists had campaigned for a TV service in the language, which already had its own radio station, BBC Radio Cymru. Both the Conservative and Labour parties promised a Welsh-language fourth channel, if elected to government in the 1979 General Election. Shortly after the Conservatives won a majority in the election, the new home secretary Willie Whitelaw decided against a Welsh fourth channel, and suggested that, except for an occasional opt-out, the service should be the same as that offered in the rest of the UK.

This led to acts of civil disobedience, including refusals to pay the television licence fee, thereby running the risk of prosecution or even a prison sentence, and sit-ins in BBC and HTV studios. Some took more extreme measures, including attacking television transmitters in Welsh-speaking areas. In 1980, the former president of Plaid Cymru, Gwynfor Evans, threatened to go on hunger strike if the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher didn’t honour its commitment to provide a Welsh language TV service.
The channel started broadcasting on 1 November 1982, the night before Channel 4’s opening.



Funding & Regulation

s4c-identS4C is financed from its advertising revenue and a fixed annual grant from the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), receiving £94m of funding in 2007.
Additionally, some Welsh-language programming (including Newyddion and Pobol y Cwm) is produced by BBC Wales as part of the BBC’s public service remit, and provided to S4C free of charge. S4C is controlled by the Welsh Fourth Channel Authority (Awdurod Sianel Pedwar Cymru or Awdurdod S4C), an independent body unconnected to Ofcom which regulates other UK television channels such as ITV or Channel 4.

From 2013, responsibility for funding S4C will begin to transfer to the BBC, with the DCMS reducing its funding by 94% by 2015. The BBC will provide around £76m of funding to S4C by this date, resulting in a cut of around 25% to S4C’s annual budget. This decision has been challenged by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society), which wants the proposed transfer of responsibility for funding S4C from DCMS to the BBC to be stopped.

Share Button