The BBC Trust and S4C Authority have reached an historic agreement enshrining a new partnership between the broadcasters.
The new Operating Agreement will ensure that Welsh-language television has a secure future as S4C moves to being primarily funded by the BBC until 2017 while ensuring the editorial, managerial and operational independence of S4C.
The Agreement was approved by separate meetings of the BBC Trust and S4C Authority in January. While ensuring the independence of S4C, it also outlines appropriate processes of accountability to the BBC Trust for licence fee funding allocated to the channel.
From April 2013, the majority of S4C's public income will be provided by the BBC from the licence fee. The S4C Authority will continue to be an independent statutory corporation, which will also receive funding from the UK Government and generate its own commercial revenues.
This agreement follows a public consultation process launched by the Trust and the Authority at the National Eisteddfod last year.
The BBC Trust and S4C Authority have taken the responses into consideration and since the consultation closed have been considering amendments to the agreement.
Commenting today, the BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten said:
"I am delighted that the BBC Trust and S4C Authority have approved this Operating Agreement, which expands on our existing partnership in Wales. I believe that through this agreement both organisations will be able to further develop Welsh-language broadcast media to provide a service that truly meets the changing needs and expectations of the audience."
Huw Jones, Chairman of the S4C Authority also said:
“This is an historic development for Welsh broadcasting which provides clarity for the new relationship between S4C and the BBC, while safeguarding S4C’s independence.
“This Operating Agreement is the culmination of extensive discussions between the S4C Authority, the BBC Trust and numerous stakeholders and secures the major part of S4C’s funding until 2017. We are grateful to all those who have responded to the public consultation. Their submissions have been of great value and have contributed significantly to the final wording of a unique agreement.”
Elan Closs Stephens, BBC National Trustee for Wales said:
“My main priority is to help S4C to provide the best possible programmes for Welsh speaking audiences, while safeguarding S4C's independence and ensuring that licence fee money is spent wisely. This enhanced partnership will build on the BBC's commitment to the Welsh language since its earliest days and on the successes of the last thirty years of S4C and take Welsh language broadcasting into a confident creative future.” Into a confident creative future
The BBC will contribute the following funding from the licence fee to S4C:
2013-14 - £76.3m
2014-15 - £76.0m
2015-16 - £75.25m
2016-17 - £74.5m
In 2013-14 the BBC will also contribute programming to the value of £19.4m under the Strategic Partnership on the statutory provision of programming.