S4C drops judicial review plans over funding

S4C has abandoned plans to apply for a judicial review of the UK Government's decision to change the channel's funding arrangements.

In October, former chairman John Walter Jones said the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's plan would have a disastrous effect on the channel.

However, S4C issued a statement on Monday confirming plans for the legal action have now been abandoned.

The BBC is to take over part funding of the Welsh-language channel from 2013.

S4C said in a statement that the channel's chief executive had told Welsh MPs on 14 December that judicial review proceedings would stay in place until tri-partite meetings between S4C, the BBC Trust and Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had "started in earnest".

"The first of those meetings took place on the 14th December, and more are planned," said a spokesman. "As a result of these developments, the judicial review process has ceased".

The decision by the UK Culture Secretary to change the way the channel is funded sparked widespread concern.

The Welsh Language Society says more than 100 people have said they will not pay their TV licence in protest at the changes.

The society has asked people to stop paying for the licence until the UK government guarantees what they say is sufficient funding for S4C.

Last month, BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons told MPs the BBC had reservations about taking responsibility for part-funding S4C, with the DCMS reducing its grant by 94% over the next five years.

He told Westminster's culture committee the BBC feared there might be a danger of "top-slicing" the licence fee and it would be thought the BBC had been behind the idea.

In November, more than 1,000 people turned out in Cardiff to support a rally over the future of S4C.

And last summer former chief executive Iona Jones stepped down in controversial circumstances.

The vice-chair of the S4C authority, Rheon Tomos, said Iona Jones had to go in July after the Welsh TV channel's governing body reached an "impasse".

He told MPs on the Welsh affairs committee at Westminster in December that the body believed it couldn't scrutinise its management effectively.

He also denied former chair John Walter Jones was bullied into resigning.

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