S4C vigil: campaigners ask management to wake up

gwylnos-s4c.jpgA group of language campaigners have begun a vigil in front of S4C's headquarters to draw attention to the threats to the channel tonight.The campaigners from Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society) will also call on the channel's management to stand up against the plans of the BBC and the government which will mark the end of the channel as an independent broadcaster. Last week, the BBC and the Government announced a new agreement which will mean that the corporation will have complete control over S4C's budget after 2015.In a letter to Huw Jones, Chair of S4C, Bethan Williams, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg said:"It's clearer than ever that the channel as a independent broadcaster is on the verge of disappearing. We have said since the original plan was published that S4C would lose its independence, but that that is more certain than ever following these recent decisions. The BBC itself is facing cuts, so it will be very difficult for them to fund the channel, by having the power to determine the budget what will protect the interests of S4C? S4C will be competing for a budget with English language programmes and there is no expectation that the corporation will consider a channel it's gobbled up over its own productions.""The government and the BBC have already shown that they don't respect the channel or Wales - you [S4C] didn't know about this decision until it was released publicly ... I ask you [S4C managers] therefore to join us and raise your voice by pulling out of your discussions with the BBC. Otherwise, S4C will be a poodle and will be ignored at every turn.""... we [also] ask you to call on the Government to pull the channel out of the Public Bodies Bill so as to protect the plurality and independence of broadcasting here in Wales. Channel 4 was removed from the bill so there's no reason why they should not do the same for S4C. Doing those two things would give a clear message to the Westminster Government and the BBC - that S4C isn't willing to be trampled upon and the channel is willing to fight for the future of broadcasting in Wales and for its audience."The plans for S4C would mean the government cutting its grant to the channel by 94% over four years, and the BBC contributing to its funding and taking over the running of the channel. Since the government announced its plans, a number of organisations, the leaders of the four parties in Wales, the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, two Westminster committees, and tens of thousands of people have declared their opposition.In his criticism of the plans for S4C earlier this year the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan wrote:"Before any decision is made concerning the future of S4C, the Welsh language television channel, a thorough and wide ranging review needs to be held into its future. The leaders of the four main political parties in Wales are agreed on this and it is important that their views are taken into account...""When S4C was first established, it was protected by legislation from political interference. With the passing of the Public Bodies Bill, it will have lost that protection."