The Welsh Liberal Democrat Heritage and Broadcasting Spokesperson, Peter Black has spoken out in support of the campaign to save the future of S4C which is being spearheaded by his party. The campaign follows repeated Tory threats to either cut or abolish the BBC licence fee.
The licence fee provides £75 million, equivalent to over 90% of the channel’s funding. The Tory manifesto pledges to freeze the BBC licence fee ‘pending Charter renewal’ but new Culture Secretary John Whittingdale MP has previously said it should be scrapped. The remaining £6.7m of S4C funding comes from the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport and is not guaranteed beyond March 2016.
Mr Black said:
"S4C makes an immense contribution to safeguarding our Welsh language and enriching Welsh cultural life, as well as bringing many other benefits. For instance, every £1 of S4C spend is worth £2.09 to the Welsh economy, and since the channel started in 1982 it has brought over £2.2bn of investment into Wales.
"Since May’s general election, the Tories have eagerly resurrected their anti-BBC agenda. The new Culture Secretary has said that the BBC licence fee should be scrapped, which creates huge uncertainty over future funding of S4C. This makes it extremely difficult for S4C to plan for the future.
"The Welsh Lib Dems will fight to secure the future of S4C. The Liberal Democrats already played a key role in securing S4C’s current settlement whilst in government, ensuring that the new operating agreement between the BBC and S4C gave the channel a secure future whilst retaining its independence. "I am worried that without our restraining hand the Tories will simply plough ahead with their war on the BBC without any regard to the future of Welsh-language broadcasting.
"The Tories must come clean over their plans for future funding of the S4C to end the current uncertainty, so that the channel can get back to commissioning the quality Welsh language programmes that are enjoyed by so many of us."