Welsh broadcaster S4C will place added emphasis on digital and dual-screen ventures as it attempts to cope with big budget cuts and a change in funding.
S4C CEO Ian Jones, who joined the channel from A+E Networks in January, gave an update on the state of the broadcaster in a keynote address at the National Eisteddfod event in Wales yesterday.
He expanded on a previous commitment to up spending on digital output and revealed specific projects.
From next month, S4C is launching Ti Fi A Cyw, a dual-screen initiative that will provide non-Welsh-speaking parents with translations through a live Twitter feed for a morning block of Welsh-language children’s programming.
Jones said: “The days of broadcasting on a single platform are long gone. We must accept that people’s method of engagement when they receive content has changed – particularly young people.
“The big challenge is to realise, and to accept, that the new platforms are not desirable add-ons or attachments, but that they force us to rethink our whole culture as broadcasters.”
S4C has set aside £1m (US$1.6m) a year for commissioning digital content, despite facing stringent budget cuts.
Budgets will be reduced by 36% by 2015, with most of its money now coming from the BBC licence fee. The BBC money is guaranteed until 2017 but there is no such assurance over the extra £7m that comes from the UK government after March 2015.
Jones said: “The truth of the matter is that we are facing tomorrow with far less funding and fewer resources than expected, and securing editorial independence and ultimate control is essential for the future of the channel.”
Nevertheless, he predicted an “exciting” future for S4C and pointed out how far the network had come since its launch, which he was a part of, 30 years ago.
The BBC Trust and S4C Authority today launched a public consultation on finer details of the agreement which will see the bulk of S4C funding coming from the licence fee from April next year.
Interested parties can comment on the arrangements until Tuesday October 23.