Alun Ffred Jones tells Welsh Assembly of concern over cuts in broadcaster's grant and urges national government to consult
heritage minister Alun Ffred Jones yesterday joined the Cardiff political establishment in lending support to troubled broadcaster S4C.
Jones revealed that he is meeting the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, next week and has already written to express concern over the £2m cut in S4C's £101m annual budget proposed by the coalition government. He is asking Hunt to abide by the guarantees on annual funding that are enshrined in broadcasting legislation.
In a statement to the Welsh Assembly, Jones said: "The [Welsh] government is very concerned about the cultural and economic impact should S4C's budget be cut, and its output reduced. The DCMS [Department for Culture, Media and Sport] should not ignore its statutory obligations to the channel."
S4C was set up as a public service broadcaster, "not a government department or non-governmental body," he added.
Jones said S4C should be treated similarly to other public service broadcasters in discussions about its long-term future and financing.
"Television programmes are at the heart of our public life, as relevant and important for Welsh-speaking viewers as it is to those viewing in English," he added. "It provides an essential component of British public service broadcasting, and is at the heart of the creative industries in Wales."
He said that S4C also has a key role to play beyond broadcasting and fostering the creative economy, in ensuring the Welsh language continues to thrive and remains a modern language.
Jones added that he accepted public spending cuts were on the way, but said these should only be contemplated after "appropriate consideration and consultation.
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