Night teleshopping row over S4C

Shopping bags
Image caption S4C viewers will be able to shop from the comfort of their own home after midnight

Welsh language channel S4C has been "bullied" into showing teleshopping at night to boost income, it is claimed.

Mid and West Wales Labour AM Alun Davies said it was a result of UK government attacks in a funding crisis.

Two hours of teleshopping - in English - will start on Friday, but the channel will not say how much it will earn.

The UK government responded that it was a matter for S4C. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said last month that the channel was failing to make enough impact.

The BBC will take over part-funding of S4C from 2013, with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) reducing its grant by 94% over the next five years.

The channel said it had a responsibility to attract income from different sources in order to protect its core service.

Teleshopping will be broadcast from Friday to Monday nights when the assembly is in session and throughout the week when the assembly is in recess.

The introduction of the teleshopping service will provide funding for the channel, which is having its budgets cut by 25% by 2015, as part of the UK government's Spending Review.

But the broadcaster would not say how much it was making from the deal, describing it as commercially sensitive information.

Mr Davies said: "At the end of the day, S4C is facing up to a funding crisis. The UK government has sought to attack the broadcaster and this is a consequence of that.

"But it's a shame a public service broadcaster has to take these measures to survive because of the bullying from the Department of Culture Media and Sport."

'Very concerning'

He added: "Some people are concerned that the (teleshopping) programme will be in English rather than Welsh, but I am not too concerned about that because S4C has always been a bilingual broadcaster."

S4C's Elin Morris, director of corporate and commercial policy, said the channel had a "responsibility to attract income from different sources in order to protect the core service to our viewers".

"The teleshopping service will appear after S4C's own service has closed for the night," Ms Morris added.

The Welsh Language Society (Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg) described S4C's decision as "very concerning".

Spokeswoman Menna Machreth said: "This news, along with the BBC's decision to abandon part of its Welsh language online service, is very concerning.

"We are on the verge of losing something unique - the world's only TV channel in the Welsh language. That's why we're campaigning against the joint BBC-government plan to make huge cuts to S4C.

In evidence in January to the Welsh Affairs Committee, UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey told MPs: "The concern the department has is, that with such low viewing figures, that maybe it is not making the impact on the Welsh language and on Welsh culture that it could.

"You would want to see an organisation like that, like S4C which has significant and generous funding make a significant impact on the Welsh language and Welsh broadcasting."

The channel responded at the time that almost 1m people in Wales watched S4C during the last four weeks of 2010, with an additional 400,000 outside Wales.

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