The S4C Authority, the body responsible for overseeing S4C, is today (14 May) launching a public consultation into proposals to introduce a new Welsh language public service television channel for children.
The ten-week consultation will seek the views of the public and key stakeholders on the proposed new service, aimed at children up to 16. The new service will require the granting of a public service remit from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
John Walter Jones, Chair of the S4C Authority, said: “Children’s viewing is migrating from mainstream channels to dedicated children’s channels. As television enters a wholly digital age, we must ensure that the children and young people of Wales are not left behind. It is vital that an equivalent Welsh language children’s channel is provided.”
He added: “A generation of children and young people who have a passion for their culture are also part of a wider, media-savvy generation with high expectations of when and how they wish to consume media. It will be an opportunity missed if we fail to live up to their expectations and deny them the choice of consuming media in the Welsh language.
“Over the coming weeks we will be seeking the views of all interested parties –specifically those of parents, teachers, children’s charities, youth organisations, politicians and children themselves. We want to ensure that the service meets the needs of our young people.”
S4C would fund the new service from its current budget. Additional S4C commercially-generated revenues will help fund start-up and technical costs. S4C is one of the largest purchasers of original children’s programming in the UK with a budget of £10.9 million to commission from the independent sector in 2007.
It is proposed that the new service would be available in Wales on digital satellite, digital cable and digital terrestrial television. It will also be available to viewers elsewhere in the UK on digital satellite and on broadband.
Please visit s4c.co.uk/childrens for details on how to take part in the consultation, which closes on Friday, 20 July.
1. The 2001 Census showed that 41% of children in Wales age 5-14 speak Welsh – an increase of 15% since the 1991 figures.
2. The proposals coincide with wide industry debate about the future of children’s programming. Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has identified children’s output as a key component of public service broadcasting and is currently undertaking a review of this important genre.