Television producers in Wales have called for the editorial independence of Welsh broadcaster S4C to be protected under a new funding arrangement with the BBC.
In 2010, a new BBC licence fee settlement saw the BBC Trust agree to provide the majority of S4C’s public funding from 2013.
A draft operating agreement has now been drawn up, which outlines the “funding and accountability arrangements” that will be put in place between the two organisations.
However, TAC, the trade body for independent television producers in Wales, has raised concerns about the agreement. It claims it appears to “contradict” assurances given the by the government that S4C will continue to have editorial independence and subjects S4C to “measures or procedures that would seem to undermine its core mission and status”.
It argues that “clearer and firmer safeguards for S4C’s status as a separate broadcasting entity would not only reassure those concerned about S4C’s future prospects but would also allow the BBC Trust a simpler task in monitoring S4C’s use of the licence fee”.
In particular, it contests part of the draft agreement that suggests the licence fee funding means S4C’s output will contribute to the “delivery of the BBC’s public purposes”.
TAC argues that the licence fee is “not the same as the BBC” and adds that each service funded by it “should have its own distinctive appropriate purposes”.
The trade body also expresses concern about S4C having to make “further efficiency savings”.
It argues that S4C should not “be subject to the same cuts as part of the BBC when it has already had a substantial cut in its overall budget”.
TAC chair Lestyn Garlic said: “We appreciate the drawing up of the draft agreement has been a long process but it may have been that very fact that has led to it to fall short in some key areas of guaranteeing S4C has a clear modus operandi which cannot be affected by anyone other than the government.”