As S4C announces that it is to broadcast highlights of Wales' international Euro 2016 qualifier against Belgium, the broadcaster has emphasised the importance of providing access to national sports events on S4C – and the contribution it makes to sport in Wales.
Earlier this week, S4C proudly revealed that extended highlights of this Friday's Wales v Belgium match will be screened on the channel at 10.30 the same evening. This is the first time in recent years that S4C has been able to broadcast coverage of the international football side.
"To be able to provide access to Wales' international football matches during one of the most exciting campaigns for some years is a very important move for us and I'm delighted that we've been able to come to an arrangement for this Friday's Belgium match," says S4C Chief Executive, Ian Jones, adding that the channel sees its investment in Welsh sport as an important element of its contribution to Welsh life.
"Sport is an important part of any public broadcasting service; to offer access to the major events, as well as making these events available in the Welsh language," says Ian Jones.
"As an integral part of Welsh life, we aim to work with other broadcasters and rights holders to see what we can achieve together. In addition to that, we want to be able to work with sports in Wales, both mass participation and others which have a lesser but growing appeal, to make a contribution."
S4C has always been committed to providing sports coverage of major events of national importance, whenever possible. Another scoop for S4C this year is securing live coverage of the 2016 Rugby World Cup, following Wales' entire campaign in the competition as well as knockout stages and final. The channel is also broadcasting live matches from the World Rugby U20 Championship, which is currently being played in Italy.
Other regular fixtures in the S4C sports schedule are weekly live Welsh Premier League football, Pro12 Rugby and the RBS 6 Nations Championship – but the focus now is firmly on the nation football team's efforts against Belgium.
"To secure the rights for this Euro 2016 qualifying campaign game, we were very happy to work with the main broadcast rights holder Sky to come to this arrangement, with extended highlights shown on S4C the same night as the match itself. It’s further evidence of our commitment to Welsh sport and the audience throughout Wales which wants to support our team’s efforts."
Extended highlights of Wales v Belgium, Euro 2016 qualifying match, will be screened on S4C Friday night, 12 June, at 10.30. Also available on demand on the S4C website - s4c.cymru - for 7 days following the original broadcast.