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S4C Authority Chair: Flexibility is essential in order to meet future challenges

17/07/2014

The nature of services offered by S4C has changed to meet the channel's financial circumstances. That is one of the S4C Authority Chair’s conclusions in the channel's 2013/14 Annual Report.

In the report, Huw Jones says that S4C's performance assessment shows that the service has adapted substantially in order to cope with the reduction in budget. Mainly, the changes have occurred in the form of developments which create more opportunities to view content across the UK; reduced cost per hour; and facilities to enable non-Welsh-speaking audiences view content.

In terms of reach, there is mixed news, with weekly reach down, mainly due to a reduction in the channel's ability to compete for sports rights, but annual reach has increased as the channel attracted more occasional viewers.

According to S4C's Chief Executive, Ian Jones, the clear challenge for the channel is now to build on the success of attracting occasional viewers, so that they return more often to view S4C content.

Despite the challenges that come hand in hand with a reduced budget and demographic changes, the Authority also notes that the channel has shown its ability to plan services which meet changing viewing habits, and to introduce radical changes such as the decision in principle to move the headquarters to Carmarthen.

This year, S4C's Annual Report reports on a period of 15 months as the channel changes to report on financial years form next year. Among the findings for 2013/14 are:

6.5 million Number of people who viewed S4C throughout the UK in 2013 (2012: 5.3m)

5.2 million Online viewing sessions (2013: 4m, 2012: 2.8m)

1.4 million Number of people tuning in to S4C on average each month (3-min reach) (2012: 1.3m)

1.2 million Number who viewed programmes from the year's events on television

578,000 Number of viewers throughout the UK in an average week (2012: 599,000)

194,000 Number of Welsh-speaking viewers in Wales in an average week (2012: 216,000)

8hrs 4mins Average time spent viewing S4C each week by Welsh speaking viewers in Wales (2012: 7hrs 3mins)

224,000 Visits to the S4C website each month (2012: 201,000)

Announcing S4C's 2013/14 Annual Report, the Chair of the S4C Authority, Huw Jones said:

"The Authority believes that creatively S4C has done well in facing up to changing linguistic demographics, while delivering major savings to cope with the substantial funding reduction it has faced since 2011. Our overall perception is that programme quality in most genres has been high, with a number of particularly striking achievements, particularly in the fields of drama and documentaries and that the service has consistently been appreciated by Welsh-speakers and by substantial numbers of non-Welsh speakers.

"We were very glad to see a number of digital initiatives coming to fruition. This is an area which is of great importance if we are to continue to connect with younger viewers in particular, but also to provide for the needs of a population on the move.

"While overall weekly reach in Wales and across the UK is down, a good deal of this can be ascribed to a reduction in our ability to acquire the rights to broadcast high-quality sport, as a result of fiercer competition which is likely to continue, and some is due to a change in the BARB measuring panel. Viewing by Welsh speakers is more consistent, however, while there is a striking increase in the number of occasional viewers across the UK who have tuned in at some point during the year.

"It is necessary for us constantly to revisit the question of our audience's programme priorities, and the primary aim must be to entice more of those who use the service occasionally to discover recurring reasons to tune in regularly. We must also be prepared to question our own ability to continue to deliver, on a regular basis, programming across the whole range of desired genres."

S4C's Chief Executive, Ian Jones said:

"We have seen significant and far-reaching changes at S4C over the last two years and there will be many more challenges over the year to come - creative and practical challenges.

"Our key challenges are to ensure that we continue to provide the highest quality service possible to the widest audience possible on a wide range of platforms and devices, to continue to innovate and to build sound foundations for a strong, national, independent organisation for the future and strive to turn casual viewers into more regular viewers. The future is challenging but exciting. I look forward to working with the independent production sector, BBC Cymru and S4C's staff to ensure that all of this becomes a reality and that we set a firm foundation for the next stage in the history of S4C beyond 2017."

Click here to see the S4C 2013/14 Annual Report

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