Introducing S4C

Freedom of Information Act

Part 1: S4C

S4C was established by the 1980/81 Broadcasting Acts and first went on air at 6.00pm on Monday 1 November 1982. Prior to S4C's establishment, the limited number of Welsh programmes produced were scattered throughout the schedules of BBC1 and ITV. Since 1982, all Welsh language television programmes, from whatever source, have been transmitted on S4C to create one comprehensive Welsh medium service.

Over the years, S4C has developed a distinctive role in the provision of public service broadcasting to a bilingual community. More recently, new technology such as the Internet and the advent of digital television in 1998, has enabled S4C to expand the service it provides.

S4C is a commissioning broadcaster, rather than a programme producer, creating jobs and boosting the local economy throughout Wales. S4C is funded by a combination of grant-in-aid from the Treasury and revenue generated by the activities of its commercial subsidiaries. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport provides S4C with funds in order to carry out its activities according to a statutory formula set out in the Broadcasting Act 1996.

S4C's programmes are transmitted from Central Square, Cardiff.

Further information regarding S4C is available on S4C's website and in the S4C Annual Report and Statement of Accounts.

Part 2: The Freedom of Information Act

2.1 Introduction

Individuals already have the right of access to information about themselves under the Data Protection Act 1998. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act") builds on this by giving a general right of access to all types of information held by public authorities, whether personal or non-personal. "Information" is defined in the Act as being information which is recorded in any form.Any person who makes a written, statutory request to a public authority for information must be informed whether the public authority holds that information and to be supplied with that information. This right of access will be brought into force for all public authorities in January 2005, and further details are set out in paragraph 3.4 below.

2.2 S4C and the Act

For the purposes of the Act, the term "public authority" includes all government departments and public bodies. S4C is defined as a public authority in the Act, together with the BBC and Channel 4.Significantly, the Act does not apply to S4C in the same way that it applies to other public authorities. S4C is defined as a public authority "in respect of information held for purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature" (as are the BBC and Channel 4). The Act, therefore, does not apply to information held for the purposes of creating S4C's output, whether programme-related, multimedia or interactive. For example, all programme-related material (including programme submissions) is excluded from the S4C publication scheme.It is important to note, however, that S4C will continue to make available a great deal of information relating to S4C's programming and programme-related output elsewhere. For example, full information relating to S4C's Development and Commissioning Process is available by consulting the S4C Producer's Site (www.s4c.cymru/en/production/).This website sets out information including:

  • S4C's Programme Development Requirements (on a collective and departmental basis)
  • S4C Submission Details
  • S4C Technical Specifications
  • Language Guidelines for programmes on S4C
  • S4C Archive Scheme
  • S4C will also continue to publish comprehensive information about its programmes in its Annual Report.

Part 3: Publication Schemes

3.1 What is a Publication Scheme?

Under the Act, all public authorities are under a duty to specify what information they publish, or intend to publish, in terms of information 'classes'. The classes of information applicable to the S4C scheme are set out in Part 4.The purpose of publication schemes is to ensure that as much information as possible is made available without the need for a specific request for information. It is also intended that schemes will encourage organisations to be proactive in terms of information that they publish, and to develop a culture of openness generally.

3.2 The S4C Publication Scheme

The aim of the S4C publication scheme is to provide a comprehensive guide to the information S4C makes available to the public and, wherever possible, to provide an easy method of accessing this information. The scheme is intended to make more information available about S4C's activities generally and promote a greater understanding of its distinctive role.This scheme is a description of the information that S4C makes publicly available. In accordance with the Act, this scheme specifies:

  • the classes of information which S4C publishes or intends to publish;
  • the manner in which information in each class is, or intended to be published; and
  • whether the material is, or is intended to be, available free of charge or whether payment is required

The classes of information and the manner in which they are published are set out in Section 4. The S4C scheme refers to items published in a number of different formats, including electronic documents, written reports and other media.

3.3 Exemptions

As well as excluding information which relates to "journalism, art and literature", the Act also contains a number of exemptions from the generic duty of public authorities to communicate information. It is therefore possible that certain information will be excluded from the S4C scheme because it falls within the ambit of one or more of the exemptions.In some instances, information included within a particular class may also include information which falls outside the ambit of the Act. For example, the S4C Annual Report includes information which relates to the running of S4C together with information about S4C's programming and interactive output. Where information of this kind is included in the scheme, it does not automatically mean that it is within the ambit of the Act.

3.4 Requests for Information from January 2005 onwards

The individual right of access to information comes into effect on 1 January 2005. Those wishing to exercise their right under the Act from this date onwards should:-

  • make their request in writing (e-mail requests are acceptable)
  • address the request to the S4C Freedom of Information Officer (for contact details see paragraph 3.9 below)
  • include their name and address to enable S4C to respond to the request
  • set out as much information as possible regarding the requested information
  • confirm the preferred method for receiving the information (e.g. paper copy, e-mail or computer disc)

S4C will respond to statutory requests for information within 20 working days from the date of receipt. This time limit may need to be extended in certain circumstances, however, e.g. in the event that significant amounts of information are requested.

3.5 Obtaining copies of Information

Information published under this scheme can either be downloaded from the S4C website (where documents are available electronically) or requested via e-mail, or by telephoning the S4C Viewer's Hotline.

Tel: 0370 600 4141

e-mail: gwifren@s4c.cymru

This scheme will be made available on the S4C website and also by means of a hard copy for those who do not have access to the Internet. The scheme is published in Welsh, English, and large print versions. A hard copy of this Scheme is available by contacting the S4C Viewer's Hotline.

3.6 Charges for Information

No charge will be made for those requesting single copies of this scheme, in whatever format.There will be no charge for downloading information contained in this scheme directly from the S4C website, unless otherwise indicated. (It is possible that users may be charged by others for Internet access, or for printing the information).For those without Internet access, single copy print outs of the relevant information are available by contacting the S4C Viewers' Hotline. However, requests for multiple printouts, for documents to be faxed, or for archived copies of documents which are no longer available on the S4C website, may attract a charge in respect of the cost of retrieval, photocopying, faxing or postage. Details of the precise charge will be provided at the time of the request and the charge will be payable in advance.

3.7 Copyright

This scheme, together with all information and materials made available under this scheme, is subject to S4C's copyright unless otherwise indicated. Such materials may be downloaded or reproduced for personal use without formal permission or charge, but they should not be reproduced, copied or republished for sale or other commercial purposes, or modified or transmitted by any means.

3.8 Review and Responsibility

S4C will review the scheme at regular intervals (particularly in the light of statutory requests for information) in order to monitor how effectively it is operating. In adopting and reviewing its scheme, S4C is mindful of its obligation to have regard to the public interest in allowing public access to information which it holds. In the event that S4C wishes to add a class of information to the scheme, it will submit its plans to the Information Commissioner for consideration. The S4C scheme has been approved by the Information Commissioner for the period up to and including 29 February 2008.The S4C Freedom of Information Officer is responsible for the scheme on behalf of S4C and for maintaining the scheme on a day-to-day basis.

3.9 Feedback, Comments and Complaints

S4C wants this publication scheme to meet users' needs. S4C also welcomes suggestions for additional information that might be included in future together with comments on how the published information might be made more accessible.Any feedback or comments about this publication scheme should be in writing and addressed to:

The Freedom of Information Office


Canolfan S4C Yr Egin


SA31 3EQ

Email: Iestyn.Morris@s4c.cymru

If users are dissatisfied with their ability to access information contained within the S4C scheme, they should contact:

The Secretary to the S4C Unitary Board


Canolfan S4C Yr Egin


SA31 3EQ

Email: Geraint.Pugh@s4c.cymru

If users are still dissatisfied, they may refer the matter to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner is responsible for ensuring that public authorities comply with the Act. Further information is available by contacting:

The Information Commissioner's Office

    • Wycliffe House
    • Water Lane
    • Wilmslow
    • Cheshire
    • SK9 5AF
    • Tel: 01625 545 740
    • Fax: 01625 524 510
    • E-mail: mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk
    • Internet: www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Part 4: Classes of Information held by S4C

4.1 Annual Reports

This category comprises the current S4C Annual Report and the previous year's Annual Report.The most recently published Annual Report and Statement of Accounts is available on the 'About S4C' page of the S4C Website: www.s4ccymru/annualreport. The previous year's Annual Report and Statement of Accounts is also available.

4.2 Governance

This class of information comprises selected information setting out the framework within which S4C is regulated.The S4C Authority is responsible for regulating S4C. The Welsh Fourth Channel Authority is an independent broadcasting authority, responsible for S4C's strategic policy. The Authority's Chair and members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, following an open procedure of application and interview.The documents which S4C makes available under this category of information are:

  • The Role of the S4C Authority: This paper sets out the role of the S4C Authority as a regulator and broadcasting authority, and sets out its relationship with S4C as a television service.
  • Code of Practice for Members of the S4C Authority: This document sets out a Code of Practice for Members of the S4C Authority. It is based on a model suggested by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
  • The Register of S4C Authority Members' Interests: This document contains declarations of interests in companies or bodies active within the industry, general businesses, other bodies and any additional interests.
  • Authority Bulletins: In addition to its programme of meetings with the public across Wales and the publication of its Annual Report and corporate plan, the Authority publishes regular bulletins about its discussions and decisions.

4.3 Corporate Documents

This class of information comprises selected corporate documents routinely published by S4C. The documents which S4C makes available under this category of information are:

  • S4C Corporate Plan: This document sets out S4C's commitments to viewers, the taxpayer and the public at large.
  • Corporate Plan - End of Year Review: A summary of S4C's performance against the main targets in the previous year's corporate plan.
  • S4C Welsh Language Scheme: S4C as a public body has adopted the principle that when dealing with the public in Wales it will treat the Welsh and English languages with equality. This scheme sets out how S4C gives effect to that principle in its dealings with the public. The scheme is not applicable to the content of S4C's television or interactive services.

4.4 Selected Speeches and Press Releases

This class of information comprises selected press releases, speeches and similar documents which S4C has made available to the public during the previous 12 months.The most recently published press releases, together with speeches and similar documents, are available on the home page of the S4C Press Department (http://www.s4c.cymru/e_press.shtml).

4.5 Freedom of Information

This category comprises information that has been added to the S4C publication scheme together with selected enquiries made to S4C in accordance with the Act.When the general right of access comes into force in January 2005, certain requests for information and S4C's responses will also be made available under this category.

4.6 Working at S4C

This class consists of designated policies and procedures which apply to S4C staff, S4C's Equal Opportunities Policy, together with selected information about employment opportunities with S4C.

4.6.1 Staff Guidelines and Policies

Staff Guidelines

  • Equal Opportunities Policy
  • Appraisal Policy
  • Harassment
  • S4C Communications Code of Practice
  • Training and Development
  • Computer Security, Misuse and Data Protection
  • E-mail and Internet usage
  • Green
  • Maternity Policy and Parental leave
  • Flexible working policy
  • Health and safety policy
  • Unpaid leave policy
  • Smoking

Financial Procedures

  • Public Interest disclosure
  • Fraud
  • Travel and Subsistence
  • Expense Claims
  • Internal Control Procedures

4.6.2 Employment Opportunities

  • S4C Work Experience Scheme: S4C provides opportunities for work experience within certain departments.
  • S4C Scholarship: S4C has established a fund to offer a number of training scholarships to individuals.
  • Careers: S4C also has a careers website which is a general guide to finding employment and work opportunities within S4C and the media. Vacancies and employment opportunities with S4C are advertised in the local and national press from time to time.

Further details of all the information made available in this category are available on S4C's careers website: www.s4c.cymru/jobs

Part 5: Contacting S4C

S4C's headquarters are located at:

Canolfan S4C Yr Egin.


SA31 3EQ.

S4C also has an office in Caernarfon, and in Central Square, Cardiff,



Doc Fictoria


LL55 1TH



3 Y Sgwâr Canolog


CF10 1FT

S4C's Viewers' Hotline is open 9am-10pm daily. It can be contacted by the following means:

Telephone: 0370 600 4141

E-mail: gwifren@s4c.cymru

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