Protests grow over Welsh language broadcasting cuts

By staff writers
12 Apr 2011

Welsh language campaigners Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, the broadcast union BECTU, the Writers Guild, Equity, the Musicians Union, the National Union of Journalists and other organisations have launched an umbrella group to fight the cuts to the Welsh language television channel S4C.

The Government plans to cut funding to the Welsh language channel S4C by 17 per cent.

Yet Welsh is one of the two official languages of the country, and there has been steady growth in bilingual and Welsh-medium schools.

The cuts, which take funding down to £76 million would mean “going back to the sixties and seventies”, Ken Smith, chair of the NUJ Welsh council, told delegates at the union's annual delegate meeting in Southport this past weekend.

He added that the attack on public sector broadcasting would have implications across the media in Wales.

Declared Smith: “When there is greater devolution there will be less coverage.”

Martin Hughes said that the broadcaster’s “role in the revival of the language cannot be underestimated” and that its proper funding was important for the future of the language.

The new coalition of groups fighting the cuts is championing the development of a new multi-media S4C. The group is calling for an independent funding formula for the Welsh language channel, based on inflation and enshrined in statute.

Welsh language campaigners have also welcomed support from some politicians including Lord Geoffrey Howe - deputy Prime Minister, Chancellor and Foreign Secretary under Margaret Thatcher – who spoke against the Government’s plans for S4C.

Lord Howe told the UK parliament that the plans would be “politically unwise and disastrous for the institution”.

Green, Labour and Plaid Cymru activists have also spoken out.

S4C has attempted to raise funds with drastic measures such as selling off furniture.

With acknowledgments to the NUJ: http://www.nuj.org.uk/

[Ekk/3]

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