Ministers disappoint over S4C, Ian Hargreaves tells AMs

Image caption S4C have been without a chief executive for over a year and is facing a host of problems

A media expert has described the Welsh government's response to problems surrounding S4C as disappointing.

Prof Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff University told a committee of AMs that it was now "game on" for S4C's future and it was time for the Welsh government to "get playing".

S4C has faced several crises in the past year and negotiations about a new funding deal with the BBC are ongoing.

The Welsh government said it was in "regular dialogue" over S4C's future.

The channel has been without a chief executive for over a year and is facing a host of problems, including fears over falling audience figures and threats to jobs.

Campaigners have also been protesting over the decision by the UK government to hand over part of the responsibility for funding the Welsh-language channel to the BBC.

In 2010, Prof Hargreaves, who holds a chair in digital economy at the university, carried out a review of creative industries for the Welsh Government called The Heart of Digital Wales, also known as the Hargreaves Review.

One of his recommendations was the need to establish a public dialogue and closer political relationship with S4C.

Appearing before the task and finish group, which is taking evidence into the outlook for media in Wales, he said he did not believe the Welsh government had properly implemented his recommendation.

"I don't think the Welsh government have been ready enough to respond to that," he said.

"I've been disappointed in the Welsh government's response to that set of questions.

"I say that frankly, and as someone who lives in Wales, I adore Wales, but I'm not Welsh, I'm certainly not a Welsh speaker.

"But I've followed this situation closely, and I think there is an opportunity and a responsibility for the Welsh government here.

"My sense is that this is 'game on' here [for S4C] and the Welsh government should get playing."

'A real success'

Prof Hargreaves added, "I'm not happy with the way the S4C issue has been dealt with in the past year, I doubt that anybody is.

"But it is possible to make a success, and a real success, of the new arrangements, whatever they turn out to be."

A spokesman for the Welsh government said it had expressed its concerns to the UK government about the impact its funding cuts will have on S4C.

"Although the responsibility for, and funding of, S4C is a matter for the UK government, the Welsh government's position is clear - the proposal that S4C funding in future should come from the BBC are of far reaching importance for Wales, the Welsh language and the creative industries sector.

"The First Minister Carwyn Jones and Heritage Minister Huw Lewis have said that it is essential S4C remains editorially and operationally independent of the BBC and reiterated this with both channels recently.

"It is important that its funding is put on a long-term, secure footing. We believe there should be a fundamental review of S4C to inform the shape of the channel in the future."

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