As S4C prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary this autumn, the channel’s Chief Executive is totally confident about its future.
As he delivered the Owen Edwards Memorial Lecture ‘Carrying the Flame’ at the National Eisteddfod in the Vale of Glamorgan today (Thursday 9 August), Ian Jones said that the channel has an“exciting” future and that Wales can pride itself in S4C's performance over the years.
Whilst reminding the audience of S4C's contribution to Wales and the Welsh language, Ian Jones also said that the channel only broadcast 22 hours a week when it started broadcasting in November 1982. The channel today provides a comprehensive service and broadcasts over 120 hours a week of programmes and services.
S4C is unique among minority language broadcasters, said Ian Jones. "The fundamental difference is that S4C provides a full, comprehensive service. This is what makes S4C both unique and cherished and that‘s why we need to safeguard the channel. It is only a comprehensive service of this kind that can truly reflect and celebrate the life of the nation," said Ian Jones.
In order to continue as a comprehensive television service and to develop the channel’s digital media and multi-platform services, S4C must receive adequate funding, said Ian Jones.
One example of S4C’s digital and multi-platform development is the new Ti, Fi a Cyw provision, a service which is specifically aimed at non-Welsh speaking parents and learners who wish to watch Cyw with their children. This innovative service will be launched later today at the National Eisteddfod.
Available from September onwards, the service will provide information on a second screen, so that families can join in the fun with their children, get in touch with other viewers during live broadcasts and learn Welsh.
Ian Jones expressed his wish to work closely with many other organisations and partners as the channel faced the future. He also stressed that viewers had a key role to play in the channel’s future.
“I'm keen to work closely with those many different organisations which are key to the language’s survival, whether it’s the Assembly, the Westminster Government or other stakeholders, so that we all make the best use of limited resources, and ensure that we work more closely in terms of strategy, generate a greater understanding, and move in the same direction in working for the future of the Welsh language.
"I'm very eager to explore the possibility of further devolving S4C, perhaps looking at operating from three centres or locations at some juncture in the future, one in Cardiff, another in West Wales and a third in North Wales. It would be foolish not to discuss such possibilities if the service were to benefit from such a development, if it meant that our audience would feel a greater ownership of the channel and if it were to make economic sense to do so," he said.
Ian Jones added, "We have a great deal to celebrate as we look at the current state of the Welsh language and S4C’s performance. We have many reasons to be confident. I hope that we all, both as broadcasters and audiences, can continue to carry the flame with pride and confidence.”