Wales

S4C campaigners continue lobbying of European Union

  • 8 June 2011
  • From the section Wales
S4C headquarters in Cardiff
Image caption From 2013, most of S4C's funding will come from the BBC licence fee

Welsh language campaigners are continuing to lobby the European Union on UK government cuts to S4C's budget.

Members of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) are to meet the head of minority languages on Wednesday.

They say that under EU law, cuts to S4C have broken a UK government obligation to Welsh language broadcasting.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said S4C was "not sustainable" in its present form.

Cymdeithas members met European culture commissioner Androulla Vasilliou on Tuesday and are due to meet Alexey Kozhemyakov, who oversees the charter which commits the UK government to supplying media in Welsh, on Wednesday.

Language campaigners said the decision to transfer almost all the responsibility to funding S4C from the government to the BBC had put the channel's future in doubt.

"Under European rules there's a duty on the UK government to protect the future of S4C, the world's only Welsh language TV channel," said chair Bethan Williams.

"[UK Culture Secretary] Jeremy Hunt's proposed legislative changes threat the channel's future; they give ministers carte blanche to end the service by starving it of money."

'Strong and independent'

S4C currently receives most of its funding from a government grant, worth about £100m in 2009/10.

But it faces a 25% budget cut by 2015 as part of last autumn's Spending Review by Chancellor George Osborne.

From 2013, most of S4C's funding will come from the BBC licence fee, with the DCMS reducing its grant by 94% over the next five years.

A spokesman for the DCMS said: "The government remains committed to a strong and independent Welsh language TV service, but has concluded that the S4C model is not sustainable in its present form.

"We believe that a new partnership model with the BBC is the best way of securing the long-term future of the service."

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