Wales

BBC Wales and S4C sign partnership until 2013

iPlayer
Image caption BBC-produced programmes on S4C will also be shown on the iPlayer

A new agreement between the BBC and S4C will see all BBC-produced S4C programmes made available immediately on the BBC iPlayer for the first time.

There will also be a move into high definition (HD) for flagship soap Pobol Y Cwm.

The BBC Trust and the S4C Authority have signed a renewed agreement until 2013.

From then the BBC will take over part-funding of the Welsh-language channel.

BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons said the partnership underpins the BBC's commitment to Welsh-language broadcasting.

The announcement follows S4C's decision to abandon plans to apply for a judicial review of the UK government's decision to change the channel's funding arrangements.

The partnership agreement covers the BBC's statutory obligation to supply S4C with at least 10 hours of programming per week (520 hours over the year), funded out of the licence fee.

S4C viewers will continue to see the channel's news provided by the BBC, as well as the soap opera Pobol y Cwm.

The long running series' move into HD will happened once production switches to the BBC's new studios currently under construction in Cardiff Bay.

Reduction

But the funding for providing the 10 hours of weekly programming will fall over the course of the agreement from £23.5m in 2010/11, to £19.4m in 2012/13.

Under the terms of the latest agreement, branding on all future programming delivered by the BBC will be increased so that licence fee payers can more easily tell which programmes are funded from the licence fee.

Other changes include the establishment of a Joint News Review Board which will discuss and consult on the performance and strategic development of the BBC's News service on S4C.

BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons said: "The renewed partnership builds on our strong relationship with S4C and underpins the BBC's existing long-standing commitment to Welsh-language broadcasting.

"This agreement provides security of the BBC's funding for programming over the next two years, delivering content valued by Welsh-language audiences."

"It will take us through to 2013 when the new arrangements set out in the recent licence fee settlement are introduced," said BBC Trustee for Wales, Elan Closs Stephens.

"These arrangements are currently being negotiated between the Trust, S4C and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport," said Prof Stephens.

'Close relationship'

Rheon Tomos, vice chairman of the S4C Authority, said that S4C looked forward to working in partnership with the BBC, and that the agreement will help the broadcasters build on what he called "the existing close relationship between us".

"Viewers tell us that the provision of high quality programmes places S4C at the heart of Welsh culture and is vital to maintaining the Welsh language.

"Our agreement with the BBC will be crucial as we strive to achieve these aims."

The new agreement was negotiated by the S4C management team and the BBC Executive and subsequently approved by the S4C Authority and the BBC Trust in December 2010.

It comes into effect immediately, replacing the previous agreement which ran from 2007 to 2009.

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