Wales politics

S4C must 'do more' to entice more viewers

S4C reception Image copyright Warren Orchard / S4C
Image caption Most of S4C's budget now comes from the BBC licence fee

S4C needs to do more to ensure viewers tune in to the channel more often and for longer, the chair of the S4C Authority Huw Jones has said.

S4C's annual report showed it had 578,000 viewers in 2013 each week, down from 599,000 the previous year.

Senior figures said a change in the way figures are calculated and budget cuts limiting the channel's bids for sports rights were mainly behind the drop.

Huw Jones said S4C had produced high-quality programmes despite the cuts.

The weekly 'reach' figure is the number of viewers across the UK in an average seven-day period.

The annual reach - the number of viewers watching across the whole year was up, from 5.3m to 6.5m, although that figure can be skewed by popular one-off broadcasts.

But the report showed a decrease in the numbers watching within Wales.

The average weekly number of viewers in Wales was 404,000 in 2013-14, down from 458,000 in 2012-13 and 483,000 in 2011-12.

There was also a fall in the number of Welsh speakers watching over the same period, from 226,000 in 2011-12 to 216,000 in 2012-13 and 194,000 in 2013-14.

Mr Jones said: "It is necessary for us constantly to revisit the question of our audience's programme priorities, and the primary aim must be to entice more of those who use the service occasionally to discover recurring reasons to tune in regularly.

"We must also be prepared to question our own ability to continue to deliver, on a regular basis, programming across the whole range of desired genres."

He argued the channel had "done well" to produce high-quality programmes in the face of funding cuts since 2011.

'Firm foundation'

Chief executive Ian Jones said there had been "significant and far-reaching changes at S4C over the last two years" and there were many more "creative and practical challenges to come".

"Our key challenges are to ensure that we continue to provide the highest quality service possible to the widest audience possible on a wide range of platforms and devices, to continue to innovate and to build sound foundations for a strong, national, independent organisation for the future and strive to turn casual viewers into more regular viewers," he said.

"I look forward to working with the independent production sector, BBC Cymru and S4C's staff to ensure that all of this becomes a reality and that we set a firm foundation for the next stage in the history of S4C beyond 2017."

Most of S4C's budget now comes from the BBC licence fee, with a much smaller contribution coming from the UK government.

The funding system for channel after 2017 will be reviewed after the general election.

The BBC contributed £76.3m from the licence fee to S4C in 2013-14. That figure will fall to £74.5m by 2016/17.

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