S4C audiences 'growing across UK'

S4C gallery
Image caption The number of Welsh speakers watching the channel suffered a small decline

S4C's audiences grew in Wales and across the UK in the last financial year, its annual report reveals.

The Welsh language broadcaster increased viewing by 5% in Wales and 12% across the UK during 2017/18.

Each week, 365,000 people in Wales watched S4C on TV, 690,000 across the UK. The channel also had 8.2 million viewing sessions on its online channel, Clic, and the BBC iPlayer.

It confirmed it is writing-off £3.27m after the failure of Loteri Cymru.

The venture went into administration in April, exposing the television channel to debts from TV rights fees of £660,000 and finance of £2.6m.

"No material recoveries from the administration are expected," stated the channel.

It is the first annual report since an independent review of the channel recommended changes to its funding and governance.

The number of Welsh speakers watching the channel suffered a small decline but S4C said the figure was steady over the longer term.

More stories on this subject:

Euryn Ogwen Williams' review for the UK government was published in April, and said all of S4C's funding should come from the licence fee by 2022.

Of the channel's current £84m budget, about 8% comes from the UK government and 90% from the licence fee. The remaining 2% is generated by S4C's commercial arm.

The review also recommended replacing the current management board, and the governing S4C Authority, with a single unitary board.

Image caption Chairman Huw Jones said S4C would be a "comprehensive Welsh language media service provider" across different platforms

Writing in the annual report, S4C chairman Huw Jones said the review would allow the channel to evolve.

"We can now pursue our digital strategy confident in the knowledge that there is broad support for the view that S4C should be a comprehensive Welsh language media service provider on a range of platforms, old and new," Mr Jones said.

Image caption Rhodri Meilir in Craith (Hidden), a bilingual crime drama on S4C and BBC

Dramas have been a ratings success for S4C. It has co-produced a number of series with the BBC, which has seen them broadcast in Welsh on S4C before being shown largely in English on the BBC's services in Wales and across the UK.

Addressing the future of the channel, Mr Jones said the success of dramas such as Un Bore Mercher (Keeping Faith) and Craith (Hidden) showed the TV industry in Wales was a "golden age" for producers.

He said: "Funding will be tight, but there is a commitment to stability for some time to come, which is not available to every public body. It is a golden age for content producers.

"The world is more open than ever to high quality content in whatever language it is made. Some of our recent productions provide a wonderful basis from which to move forward."

The independent review of S4C published earlier this year also recommended changes to S4C's commercial arm.

It has since emerged that the channel made a substantial loss after an "unsuccessful partnership" with Loteri Cymru, and a review of its commercial operations has already begun.

The annual report states that the channel reassessed the value of some of its investments, stating that "a thorough assessment of the performance and value of all investments was undertaken and as a result a number were re-valued on the balance sheet.

"Nonetheless, the value created by the commercial group as a whole over the period of the strategy is greater than any losses and the group has continued to contribute a significant dividend to S4C's public service fund."

Chief executive Owen Evans will chair the commercial arm of the company.

Writing in the annual report, Mr Evans said he was "refocusing" its commercial activity.

"I have set the goal of ensuring that our focus is on supporting the development of great content, flexible distribution platforms and intuitive marketing as our future. This has meant reviewing many of our on-going activities," he said.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites