Sunday, 28 November 2010

The trials and tribulations of S4/C continue...

Cerith Rhys Jones, CymruX Non-Portfolio Officer writes:

"S4/C is having a tough time of it, of that there is no doubt. We all know about the cuts that are coming to it, and the fact that its independence is in jeopardy; and now, its former Chief Executive, Iona Jones, has filed notice to take the broadcaster to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal, after her sudden departure earlier this year.

"Let me first clarify my position on the broadcaster’s funding. From where I stand as a Welsh-speaking Welshman, having a Welsh-medium public service broadcaster is essential to the future of the Language, and the Language is a fundamental cornerstone of our Nation’s culture. Unfortunately, the Welsh language is still seen by many people as something for the ‘crachach,’ and that it isn’t a ‘real’ language. Of course, the role that S4/C plays in all of this is the normalisation of the Language and showing that she is still alive, and is still growing. With huge cuts coming its way, S4/C will find it even harder to do its job. The Coalition in London has shown a breath-taking lack of respect for our People and our Language in dropping the axe square on our national broadcaster’s head, and adds insult to injury by transferring S4/C funding to the BBC. When we as a Party are calling for broadcasting to be devolved to Cardiff Bay, the Con-Dems seem to want to bring more responsibility back to London. Dim diolch. Funding S4/C directly from the BBC will only lead to more pressure being put on the broadcaster to have English-language programmes, and will, in my view, lead to the broadcaster’s decline (or at least, the broadcaster as we know it.)

"But do we want an S4/C which broadcasts in English? Some may want that. I don’t. All those years ago when Gwynfor did what we did so that we could have a channel of our own, the purpose of it was not for it to be a bit of this and a bit of that – a mish-mash of Welsh and English; S4/C is a Welsh-language broadcaster.

"As much as I support S4/C and totally condemn (get it?) the Con-Dems’ actions, S4/C really does desperately need to have a sit down and get its act together. It’s just not good enough for many of its programmes to have been rated as having zero viewers. It isn't good enough for the S4/C Authority to announce the resignation of its Chair, only for the Chair himself to announce separately that he would stay on until spring 2011. It isn’t good enough for the circumstances surrounding Iona Jones’ departure (or is the word ‘dismissal’ more appropriate?) to be totally hushed up (and supposedly never to be spoken of again).

"We recently saw how excellent S4/C can be with Pen Talar, the 9-part series following a set of people from before Gwynfor’s election up to the modern day where we have our National Assembly. We need more of this! I sat down with my non-Welsh-speaking mother to watch Pen Talar every Sunday night for over two months, and it really did showcase what S4/C can be. After the series finished however, we’re back to the same old programmes which, quite frankly, don’t draw new viewers in.

"My message to all concerned, including Jeremy Hunt at DCMS, and at the S4/C Authority: ‘For God’s sake, wise up. The future of our Language could very well be in your hands.’

"And so the trials and tribulations (Chief Exec-orientated play on words, there) continue…"

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