'Major changes' to S4C after departure of Iona Jones

Major changes will be made in the way S4C is run after the sudden departure of its chief executive, says the chair of the body overseeing the channel.

S4C Authority chair John Walter Jones said it would no longer be run with "due separation" between the authority and top management.

BBC Welsh affairs editor Vaughan Roderick said this indicated the authority taking direct control of the running of the Welsh language channel.

Iona Jones left her post on Wednesday.

Mr Jones told the BBC that he made an address to all members of S4C staff on Thursday morning, and would be looking to speak with its programme suppliers over the next few weeks to bring stability to the independent production sector.

"The way in which we have been operating, which we refer to as 'due separation', which is not dissimilar to the way you operate within the BBC, has now been ditched," he told BBC Wales.

"We are looking at a spirit of co-operation and stability between the authority, the staff here in S4C and the production industry out there.

"For the future we want to work in partnership with everyone.'"

Mr Jones said the station would be advertising for a new chief executive "to lead the channel into the future in very challenging times" but that an interim chief executive "may well be appointed".

In the meantime, he said, four directors will share the work at the top of S4C: Rhian Gibson, head of commissioning, Kathryn Morris, head of accounting, Garffild Lewis, head of communications, and Elin Morris, head of corporate affairs.

Image caption Iona Jones was S4C's first woman chief executive

"The four people were here working previously so they are not new people," said Mr Jones.

"They are the people who will be leading the work here in S4C, continuing the work and discussions that take place on a routine basis between us, our suppliers and the authority."

Asked whyMs Jones had left her post, Mr Jones said: "I'm not going to go into personal details regarding just one individual.

"I have no further comment to make on personal matters concerning Iona. I just want to thank her for her contribution."

Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan said she was "concerned" that Ms Jones had left her post.

She said: "Having spoken to the S4C chairman John Walter Jones, I am reassured I will be kept fully informed on developments.

"I have also spoken with ministerial colleagues at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. We remain fully supportive of S4C and the important role it plays within the broadcasting and creative industries in Wales.

"I look forward to ongoing discussions with S4C to ensure it continues to deliver quality Welsh language programming."

Elan Closs Stephens, a former chair of the S4C Authority, said she did not want to comment on Ms Jones's departure, but added: "Any board has the right to make decisions."

Ms Stephens told BBC Radio Cymru: "As someone who comments on the media I'm concerned about the timing. The sector is going through a difficult time.

"I'm concerned about the vacuum left behind and the authority needs to explain who's running the channel and who's doing the decisions."

She added: "Sometimes I don't think people realise the pressure on a chief executive of a channel like S4C and it's easy to find a scapegoat.

"It's a public job during a time of huge changes."

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