S4C 'to tackle financial issues', says chair Huw Jones

The new chairman of S4C says that following a very difficult year, the channel can now look ahead and tackle its "structural and financial issues".

Huw Jones says in S4C's annual report, published on Wednesday, that 2010 was a "turbulent year in S4C's history".

But he added he hoped the channel could now turn its attention to ensuring a "strong, attractive Welsh language television service".

S4C will be funded from part of the BBC licence fee from 2013.

Mr Jones, who was confirmed as chairman last month, said in the S4C annual report: "My hope is that we can now turn attention to the challenge which lies ahead of us, namely to ensure that we sustain a strong, attractive Welsh language television service, to the satisfaction of as many viewers as possible, as we get to grips with the structural and financial issues that face us.

"Over the next few weeks, we need to reach agreement with the BBC Trust and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport regarding the details of the new partnership and funding method which is to come into force during 2013.

"We will also need to press on with the appointment of a permanent chief executive and director of content."

Former chief executive Iona Jones left the channel suddenly in July while chairman John Walter Jones retired before Christmas.

The report also showed peak time audiences for S4C declining from an average of 32,000 in 2008 to 30,000 in 2009 and 28,000 in 2010.

Mr Jones added S4C would "approve a strategy to provide a modern, attractive service during a period of cutting back, and will consider every possible means of reducing expenditure which does not directly involve the creation of programmes and content".

Sir Jon Shortridge, formerly Wales' top civil servant, had said there was not enough contact between the S4C Authority, the body that oversees the channel, and the management board in charge of day-to-day decision making.

Mr Jones said Mr Shortridge's recommendations regarding this relationship would be put in practice.

Meanwhile it has been revealed that Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan has met the BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten to discuss the future of broadcasting in Wales.

She said that they discussed the unique status of S4C and the importance of broadcasting in the Welsh language, and that "sufficient time was needed to allow S4C and the BBC to agree suitable governance relationships that reflect these principles".

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