The fightback starts here.
Over the last 24 hours let's say I've detected a definite change in tack from S4C. Suddenly, the mobile is ringing with people who've been quiet until now, whispering about strategies and arguments in favour of protecting the channel's budget.
So far, to be fair, the callers are from the worlds of media and politics, outside the channel. However, they're suspiciously well-briefed and very much singing from the same hymn sheet. It seems the S4C top brass have finally decided to assemble a coalition of the willing to try and defend themselves against the threat of cuts which, I'm told repeatedly, look like being 25% over four years in the best case scenario, a whopping 40% in the worst case.
That is, after all, what we're all in for, said one well-placed source yesterday. The DCMS are talking "envelopes" of budget cuts "from 25%" he said, "which of course means that 25% is a given ... or should that be taken." Still, he argued, proving not everyone's on-message, perhaps S4C should try the glass half full attitude and be thankful they'll still have what they're left with.
Then after an afternoon of phone calls, yesterday evening came the release of legal advice from the top QC, Clive Lewis, via the office of the Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain. It sets out very clearly that not only would it be illegal for the DCMS to make any cuts in S4C's annual grant under the Broadcasting Act 1990 (which we knew already and which was spelled out by Elfyn Llwyd at Plaid Cymru's conference last week) but adds some crucial new information - that is, even a voluntary handback of a proportion of that grant would be illegal too. There's simply no mechanism for that return of funding to take place, says Mr Lewis, whose impressive track record speaks for itself.
This raises a lot of questions, not least about the £2m which has found its way - I choose my words carefully here - back to the DCMS from S4C in the current financial year. The exact nature of that transfer remains a moot point, depending on who you speak to. S4C dispute absolutely that it "volunteered" the cut. It came to "an agreement" with the DCMS. But if Mr Lewis is right, how come, a few curious minds are already starting to ask, would that re-payment be legal, whether it's actually made this year, or is simply shaved of next year's starting budget?
Mr Hain's office have declined to comment on who commissioned the advice about whether any voluntary return of funding would be within the law but the date on that advice is almost as striking as the contents. It was signed off by the QC on May 21st, 2010. That's a matter of days after Jeremy Hunt arrived at the DCMS, bearing his seals of office in a rucksack, we're told.
It means someone was already looking closely then at the possibility that Mr Hunt would invite S4C into a voluntary arrangement to cut its grant in order to bypass the Broadcasting Act - the question is why it's only come to light now. After all, it could have been used as a shield against that £2m which was returned earlier this year but September is the first time it's come to public attention.
Here's the opening line from the QC's advice. "I am asked to advise S4C on one question concerning the power of S4C to make a voluntary payment to the Department of Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport of money paid to S4C pursuant to section 61 of the Broadcasting Act 1990 ("the Act")."
Who commissioned the legal advice then? I'll leave you to make up your own minds.
My guess is that the S4C executives emerged from last week's meeting with Jeremy Hunt both shocked and galvanised. It was only at that point, I suspect, that his determination to reduce the channel's budget no matter what hit home to them.
The question their own supporters are asking is whether they've left it too late.
Mr Hain has made it clear that he'll take the Government to judicial review if there is any attempt to reduce the S4C budget by any means as a result of next month's Comprehensive Spending Review. He and his allies believe that it could only be achieved by passing new primary legislation, a view echoed by the Welsh Tory grandee Lord Roberts in the latest issue of Golwg, out today, where he says he believes a change in the law is "inevitable".
The best case scenario for Mr Hain and co is that the Government is forced to introduce a short new Broadcasting Bill, with the sole purpose of breaking the legal agreement for inflation increases for S4C. This could be harried through its Parliamentary journey both in committee, the Commons and the Lords. It would potentially keep the S4C funding story in the headlines for months.
However, other voices suspect that the DCMS's backstop option is to include a clause in the forthcoming Public Services Bill, to be published in a few weeks time. This would have far less impact for S4C's defenders. Would it be appropriate to do so? Opinion seems divided.
And what of S4C itself? Frantic number crunching is going on, certainly. Reducing headcount centrally isn't going to deliver the kind of savings being demanded. The main options would seem to be reducing the amount spent on the most expensive programming, or reducing the number of hours the channel broadcasts every day. Whatever happens, some very difficult decisions would have to be taken.
The statement from the S4C Authority about Mr Hain's disclosure is telling. They confirm they've taken legal advice, emphasise their responsibility to "protect the channel's public funding" and say they're examining all options within the timescale laid down by the DCMS.
It sounds like they're gearing up for a fight. The question is - what kind of forces do they have behind them? We'll see whether the phone keeps ringing.