In an Urgent Question in the House of Commons today (6 Feb), Plaid Cymru’s DCMS Spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, has raised concerns that the Westminster Government could put the future of Welsh public broadcasting at risk – in both Welsh and English.
Mr Edwards’ comments come after the Westminster Culture Secretary, Baroness (Nicky) Morgan, said the licence fee was increasingly outdated, comparing the public broadcaster to defunct video rental chain Blockbuster.
The largest part of the Welsh language broadcaster S4C’s budget comes from the licence fee. The BBC is also the largest Welsh news source in both of Wales’s national languages.
Earlier this week the Westminster Government announced plans to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee, which the BBC claims will cost it at least £200m in funding.
During the Urgent Question, Jonathan Edwards MP asked:
“S4C is largely funded these days via the license fee and the BBC itself is the main provider of broadcast news in both of the national languages of Wales.
“What assurances can the Minister give that these vital public broadcasting services will adequately resourced well into the future.”
The minister responded by saying that S4C’s funding will be considered as part of a review in 2022.
Following the exchange, Mr Edwards said:
“Wales-focused broadcast news would be unlikely to survive if the Westminster Government moved the licence fee to a subscription service.
“We have fought long and hard for broadcasting in both our national languages, we can’t let Westminster put that at risk. Every option must be explored to ensure that the future of our national broadcasters is secure – that includes devolving broadcasting.
“The Westminster Government needs to tread very carefully as the path they are heading down could easily be seen as an ideological attack on public broadcasting in Wales.”