Over 1,000 protest over S4C plans
More than a thousand people came out to protest Government plans for S4C at a Cardiff rally today.
The Government wants the BBC to take over responsibility for the Welsh-language channel and its funding, and also wants to reduce its budget, but some see this as a threat to the channel’s independence and future.
Protestors attending the rally in Cathays Park, organised by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society), heard talks from speakers including Deputy First Minster for Wales Ieuan Wyn Jones, presenter Angharad Mair and Newport West MP Paul Flynn, with calls made for Wales to have a greater say in the running of the channel.
The four leaders of the main Welsh political parties recently appealed to David Cameron for S4C to continue as an independent broadcaster.
In his speech, Mr Wyn Jones said: “We must secure the independence and the proper funding stream. That is what we are asking for here today.”
Protestors enjoyed Welsh dancing, songs and raps at the event.
Jamie Bevan, involved in organising the rally, said: “We are against anything that would undermine s4c. If they can take away S4C, what’s next? The national library? How many more Welsh institutions will go?
“We should have full powers. That’s just scaremongering on the part of the Conservatives. But there are alternatives. There was no consultation with the public or with the Welsh politicians.”
Colin Nosworthy, for the Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, said: “S4C is on the edge of destruction because Westminster is taking such cuts to the budget. We think handing it over to the BBC undermines its independence. It creates competition between Welsh services and English services.”
One protestor, Matthew Hackett, said: “I think it is fantastic that so many people have turned up. It (the Welsh language) is as a big part of our identity as the rugby. It’s what keeps as as nation. It plays a massive, important role.
We are a model of trying to reintroduce a native language and […] it would be a massive shame to lose it.It just shows how passionate people feel about S4C. People feel that the government in London don’t care….It’s completely disgusting. We could put it forward as one of the many reasons to have further powers for Wales.”
The Welsh Language Society are, in the meantime, calling on the people of Wales not to pay their TV licence fee from December 1 unless the Government reverses its plans to hand over S4C to the BBC, a decision which could cost the Government a lot in the long term.
Click here for a history of S4C.