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Staying and going

Betsan Powys | 19:14 UK time, Monday, 29 November 2010

It's been a day of staying and going.

After Andrew RT Davies' sudden departure as Shadow Health Minister this morning, tonight news that John Walter Jones, chairman of S4C is staying in his post. Rumours of his immediate departure, or even its announcement in an official S4C statement last week, it would seem, were greatly exaggerated.

He's addressed staff at the channel in the last couple of hours, saying he'll stay on as chairman until his 65th birthday in March, or for as long as the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants him to.

The mood music from the DCMS over the past few days is that they will do everything possible to avoid getting further embroiled in this extraordinary ongoing row. How would it look, after all, if they were to intervene now when all eyes are on how independent S4C can truly be in future?

Earlier today in the Commons, Mr Hunt said the following: "I urge the S4C authority to clear up the confusion over the leadership of S4C as soon as possible because they owe nothing less to the people of Wales."

Today's statement has certainly cleared up the confusion about who is the chair of S4C. Mr Jones' "only concern is the future of Welsh language broadcasting" and is more than willing to stand down now but that call hasn't come.

But in terms of how the authority will function in the future, having been "hit by a Tsuanmi" as the Chairman put it to staff today, there's still an awful lot to be cleared up.

The body's already been described in various quarters as "dysfunctional" and "a joke". How will its members now react to the news that the man who they thought had walked out on them at a meeting last week (a case of a personal letter being "misinterpreted" said Mr Jones today) has walked back in to carry on chairing their meetings? You do wonder how he'll get on with his new deputy, put in place while the boss was away and who appeared on news bulletins that night calling on Mr Jones to go and go now.

Neither man will have long to wait to find out. An Email was sent this afternoon to authority members, asking whether they're free for a meeting tomorrow.

In the meantime, no interviews, says S4C. We'll see how long that lasts. That severe weather warning is still in full force.


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