S4C is a 'beacon', says media expert
- 25 November 2010
- From the section Wales
S4C has suffered a traumatic few months culminating in the current confusion surrounding whether its governing body's chairman has resigned. But why is S4C considered so important?
Dr John Jewell from the Cardiff School of Journalism gives his view.
"I would say S4C represents something that separates Wales from the rest of the world - to have its own television channel broadcasting in Welsh.
Its cultural importance is the main thing. It sends a message to the world how important the language is to the country.
Its cultural importance can also be felt in some of its programmes such as Hedd Wyn, a film about the Trawsfynydd poet which received an Oscar nomination in 1993.
There are also the children's programmes even, such as Fireman Sam and SuperTed. Fireman Sam was originally broadcast in Welsh, was redone in English, and has become a very popular cultural export which S4C was responsible for.
I think it is also important because one of the things it does is help non-Welsh speakers learn Welsh.
It also shows local rugby and local football matches that you could not see anywhere else.
There's an argument that it should broadcast English language programmes about Wales too but that's a whole other issue.
S4C is important because it is so close to the Welsh-speaking community. It doesn't stand apart from it, it is part of it - it's not like the BBC or ITV.
Non-Welsh speakers can be proud of the fact this institution exists to support the language and support Welsh talent.
The fact that one doesn't use something does not invalidate it. For me as a non-Welsh speaking person, I'm proud that it exists and proud of what it produces.
It is a place to nurture talent in journalism and the arts. It is an outlet for people who write and perform in Welsh. They would not have that outlet if it was removed.
The oldest surviving European language should be supported in that way. That's why I support the institution.
I think it stands up as a beacon in this age of commercialisation - something that stands up for the public good.
To outsiders, it's a wonderful example I think.
There does seem to be a lot of disharmony at management level at S4C and, at one level, I can understand that.
The cuts that are going to have to be put in place are going to impact on what the channel is able to broadcast.
It's how it responds to that now that will determine its future."