S4C: Annual report shows viewing figures fall

S4C headquarters in Cardiff There was an increase in the use of S4C's Clic online catch-up service

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S4C has revealed a fall in viewing figures during 2012 compared to the year before, as the Welsh language TV channel brought in schedule changes and coped with reduced funding.

Among the total audience, the number of Welsh speakers also fell in 2012, according to its annual report.

Numbers viewing the channel for at least 15 minutes a month fell by 8% to 584,000 viewers (from 635,000 in 2011).

Chief executive Ian Jones said success today was measured by multiple factors.

Recording how many people viewed the channel for at least 15 minutes a month is one of S4C's preferred measures.

Start Quote

2012 was another year of change in the history of S4C, but this time it was about steadying the ship and preparing for the future”

End Quote Huw Jones S4C chair

While that figure fell, the number of Welsh speakers choosing to view the channel for 15 minutes a month also fell from 276,000 in 2011, to 265,000 in 2012.

There were falls in viewers watching for at least three minutes a week, which is the channel's other method of recording audience size.

However, in his introduction to the annual report, chief executive Ian Jones warned against relying on traditional audience measures.

"It's no longer appropriate in today's multiplatform television environment to use one simple performance measure to assess success," he said.

"Success today is a combination of factors including audience reach, economic impact, audience appreciation, trust, a successful provision of content for learners, for children's programmes, and contributing to a positive impact on the Welsh language and culture."

There was an increase in the use of S4C's Clic online catch-up service, with a rise of 16% in the number of viewing sessions.

'Period of renewal'

The number accessing S4C's programmes via the BBC iPlayer, which hosts some of the channel's content, fell by 2%.

There was a total of 2.8m viewing sessions across Clic and iPlayer.

There were further reductions in the cost-per-hour of S4C's content, with the cost-per-hour of the channel's total transmission hours falling from £13,400 in 2011 to £11,200 in 2012.

In his introduction the chief executive praises independent production companies for making efficiency savings as S4C dealt with a reduced budget.

He admits "many" of the changes made to S4C's schedule last March prompted negative feedback from its audience.

The changes were made shortly after Mr Jones joined the channel, and were prompted by its reduced budget.

S4C's Authority passed on its concerns about the changes to the channel's management, and Ian Jones said his team reacted "positively to constructive feedback" and amended the schedule.

Huw Jones, chair of the S4C Authority, said: "2012 was another year of change in the history of S4C but this time it was about steadying the ship and preparing for the future.

"It was also a period of renewal, with S4C and the community of companies and people who create content for the channel coming together to face the creative challenge."

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