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Volume 540: debated on Thursday 9 February 2012

11. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of new financing arrangements on the editorial and operational independence of S4C. (94341)

I agree with the assessment of the new independent chairman of S4C that financial and governance arrangements agreed between the BBC and S4C will

“safeguard the Welsh language services provided by S4C for the foreseeable future”


“allow S4C to maintain its editorial and managerial independence.”

I thank the Secretary of State for that reply, but why have he and the BBC explicitly ruled out operational independence? The cut in grant is 24% over four years, but the cut against anticipated income is some 32%, which is really challenging. Is it not important for S4C to be able to manage its own business and have operational independence?

We do want S4C to learn from what the BBC does as a much larger broadcaster—it is one of the most successful public service broadcasters in the world, if not the most successful—in how it runs its operations, because S4C has been through a very difficult period. The most important thing is editorial independence, so that there is a choice of Welsh language services and plurality of news provision in Wales. I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the new agreement between the BBC and S4C is supported not just by peers from his party but also by Plaid Cymru in the other place.