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Volume 515: debated on Wednesday 8 September 2010

2. What recent discussions she has had with Ministerial colleagues on the review of the economic impact of S4C. (13133)

I have had several discussions with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the importance of S4C and Welsh broadcasting in general, and I will continue to do so to ensure that Wales receives a broad range of programmes about and for the people of Wales. I have also had discussions with the senior management at S4C.

I thank the Secretary of State for her reply. Does she agree that given its programming for children, its substantial forward spending on planned programmes and the profound sociolinguistic effect that it has, S4C is in no way just another television channel that happens to be in Welsh? It is not a Welsh version of Dave TV, nice thought that is.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. From what I have seen of S4C, it is a television station that continues to meet the needs of Welsh speakers by providing programmes and services through the medium of Welsh. It is fair to acknowledge that it is dealing with some internal problems at the moment, but I have been impressed with the range of services that it provides, particularly to people who are learning Welsh. He may know that I visited the set of “Rownd a Rownd”, where I was extremely impressed by how we are bringing on young acting talent in Wales through that soap opera. I was impressed with the cast and the production team working on it.

The Secretary of State will also be aware of the significance of the independent TV production sector and the importance of its relationship with S4C. The sector was recognised in a Select Committee report in the previous Parliament as one in which Wales excels. Extensive cuts could jeopardise that. Will she continue to make the robust case to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport about the scale of the potential cuts?

I will continue to do that on a regular basis. One thing that is so exciting about the Welsh economy is our huge potential in the creative industries. There is tremendous potential between the BBC and ITV, which is expanding its news coverage, and S4C, but our broadcasting industry must face the reality of the budget within which we must work, thanks to the previous Government’s mismanagement of the economy. However, I stress that the television industry is the place for independent companies to do business.