The future of S4C

Dr Ruth McElroy, Reader in Media and Cultural Studies, gave evidence about the future of S4C to the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee at the Senedd yesterday (Wednesday, March 8).

Ruth was invited to give evidence to the committee as part of her role as Co-Director of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations. Ruth has also provided written evidence as part of the IWA’s Media Policy Group submission.

Evidence gathered by the committee is likely to feed into an independent review of S4C.

Ruth said: “I see that the role of S4C is essential because of the Welsh language and, to me, that seems quite obvious, but it does need to be restated. If the Welsh Government is going to achieve its aim of having one million Welsh Speakers then S4C is going to be crucial in that. 

"We do have other public broadcasters in Wales, but what is different in terms of S4C is the Welsh language and for me that has to be the basis of everything that S4C does. 

"Having said that, that is not the only thing that is important about S4C, of course, and it has a cultural role more broadly which goes beyond the Welsh language, and an economic role as well. In terms of the economic role, it’s not just about what has happened so far but it also has essential work ahead of it.”

She added: “There is a challenge for public service broadcasters throughout the World because the landscape has changed particularly when we look at teenagers and young adults. 

"They don’t turn to the television and I know by asking a first-year class how many of you watch S4C or BBC, very few said that they did that regularly… To me the greatest challenge to S4C at present is to ensure that people stay with S4C after the programmes for toddlers and young children, and this goes back to S4C’s linguistic and educational role because there has to be a clear strategy on how to use digital in order to ensure that educational materials and entertainment content is available for young people.”

You can watch Ruth’s full evidence to the committee here.