Wednesday, October 20 2010, 11:04 BST
By Andrew Laughlin,
The Welsh Assembly government has expressed concern about a deal that is expected to see the BBC assume funding for Welsh-language channel S4C.
Under a deal reportedly agreed yesterday evening, the BBC will take over funding of S4C from the Departure for Culture, Media and Sport by 2015.
It is unclear whether the corporation will assume the channel's entire £100m annual budget, but there have been assurances that S4C will retain its operational independence.
Members of the S4C Executive and S4C Authority - the channel's governing body - are expected to meet later today to consider their response to the move.
However, Welsh heritage minister Alun Ffred Jones has expressed his surprise and anger at not being informed of the funding change.
Speaking to BBC Wales, Jones said that there had been no discussion or debate in Wales about S4C's new financial arrangement.
The minister also expressed his fears about the BBC's dominant position in Welsh broadcasting, arguing that it's "simply not healthy to have one organisation overbearingly influential in this field".
"This is a story about the BBC taking over effective financial control of S4C, and whoever holds the purse calls the tune. Now this is very worrying. We have to await the details and obviously look at them carefully," Jones said.
"It is not healthy, it doesn't matter what the BBC is about, it is not healthy to have one broadcaster dominating the broadcasting and the media scene here in Wales.
"And therefore we will have to look carefully at how to preserve the independence of S4C if that is possible within the parameters of the deal."
Plaid Cymru AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas, a former Welsh culture minister, said that the "astonishing" move represented a "backroom deal in London by people who have little to no understanding of the importance the channel plays culturally and economically in Wales".
Thomas added that the new funding situation would call into question S4C's future viability as an independent broadcaster.
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