The Welsh Fourth Channel Authority needs to strengthen the relationship between Welsh language broadcaster S4C and the BBC, while the value of the BBC's contribution to S4C should be increased in line with growth in the TV licence fee since 1997, says a new report.
The independent review, published yesterday by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, commends S4C for its early decision to invest in a digital service, but adds that the channel faces tough financial and operational challenges as it moves towards a digital-only future.
Compiled by Roger Laughton, head of Bournemouth Media School, assisted by Meurig Royles, acknowledges S4C's attempts to attract additional sources of revenue and reaffirms that SDN, the digital multiplex in which S4C owns a one-third stake, is a valuable asset to the channel.
S4C is "delivering its remit more efficiently and effectively than before", the report says, while its audience share and reach, which had been in decline since the mid-nineties, have now begun to stabilise with growth in the number of Welsh speakers.
The reports conclusions and recommendations raise complex issues for S4C in relation to the government's Digital Action Plan, the BBC Charter Review and Ofcom's review of public service broadcasting. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said the DCMS would liaise with the Authority and other interested parties to consider the report's recommendations in detail.
Huw Jones, S4C's chief executive, said: "The channel's new five-year programme strategy, published this week, represents a first step in implementing the report's recommendations and we look forward to giving further consideration to how we apply other recommendations."
Lovelacemedia | 23.07.2004