Welsh broadcaster warns that cost of developing digital programming is hampering its public service duties
Welsh broadcaster S4C has made a desperate plea to the government for more money amid fears that without an injection of cash the service could be seriously damaged, writes Penny Hughes

S4C chief executive Huw Jones is concerned that the cost of developing digital programming and services is having a detrimental effect on a wide range of the channel's public service duties. He told Broadcast: 'If we don't [get more funding], it will damage our ability not only to continue to deliver digital services but to deliver sponsorship, training and initiatives peripheral to programming.

?The fact that our analogue service is shared with Channel 4 puts constraints on what we can offer Welsh viewers in daytime.'

Jones added that a better-funded S4C Digital could safeguard its commitments, but it was 'not as richly resourced as it could be'. S4C's funding from the Treasury, which according to the latest available figures was £78.2m in 2000, has not increased since the pre-digital era.

While Welsh-language output broadcast on analogue is shown simultaneously on S4C Digital, the service does not carry any of C4's output, allowing the rest of the schedule to be used for new and archive Welsh programming as well as extended coverage of cultural and sporting events.

Jones, who has had several meetings with the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, suggested two ways the extra funding could be given. First, there is provision in the current legislation for the government to allocate more cash in respect of the cost of digital transmission.

Alternatively, the government could alter the basic funding formula in the legislation to allow more money to be released for investment in S4C Digital, which is available to more than 40 per cent of Welsh-speaking viewers. This figure is expected to rise to 70 per cent by 2007.

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