S4C cuts should be frozen until the conclusion of the Independent Review

Below is a letter I have written to the Minister for Culture, Matt Hancock, expressing my concerns over funding cuts to S4C.

I believe no cuts should take place when the Independent Review is still taking place and the Government should wait until its conclusion before making any decisions.

Matt Hancock
Minister for Culture
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
100 Parliament St,
SW1A 2BQ                                                                                                                    

01 March 2017

Dear Matt,

As you know, today is St David’s Day, and so I’m writing to you about an issue of great importance to Wales, S4C.

S4C is a much-loved and hard-fought-for TV channel which demonstrates in its broadcasting the diversity and dynamism of Welsh culture. S4C is part and parcel of the modern, confident, self-determining Wales which works to benefit everyone.

However, this Government is failing to provide S4C with the certainty it needs.

At the end of 2015, the Government announced a cut to their annual contribution to S4C, amounting to a reduction of £1.7 million by 2020. Then, in February 2016 the first cut was delayed and they announced an Independent Review of S4C to look into remit, governance, and funding.  The review was scheduled for 2017, but we are still waiting to hear when the process will begin.

Adding to this confusion, in January 2017 the Government stated that their contribution to S4C would be reduced from £6.762 million this financial year, to £6.058 million in the next, as stated in the 2015 Spending Review. That is, the Government implied that funding cuts would be going ahead before the review into that same funding had even begun. Then, the caveat was added that the Secretary of State is looking at the matter. The Government’s messages are muddled when S4C deserves clarity.

A cut of £700,000 could make a big difference to S4C. The outgoing Chief Executive of S4C, Ian Jones, said that, for example, the subtitling service could be reduced. This would make it much harder for those who don’t speak Welsh, those who are learning Welsh, and those who are hearing impaired to enjoy S4C.

St David taught the importance of doing the little things. £700,000 makes a big difference to S4C, but is a small sum for the Treasury. Will the Government reinforce its support for S4C today by announcing the Terms of the Reference for the Independent Review, and freezing the cuts set out in the 2015 Spending Review until the conclusions of the Independent Review have been published and considered by the Government?

I look forward to your response.


Kevin Brennan MP (Cardiff West)

Shadow Minister for Arts and Heritage