The blog is worth quoting in full just for its entertainment value:
There is much rumbling in the Valleys regarding S4C, the Welsh language television channel that you and I fork out for. Currently the channel receives a £100million grant from the Government. However, as of 2015 the funding will come from the BBC licence fee.
Either way, we are paying for something that is an unnecessary indulgence in these challenging economic times. I like the Welsh, especially their lamb, cider and music (the Manic Street Preachers being a personal favourite pop beat combo of mine), and one of the best evenings of my life was spent quaffing ale with the finest folk of Flintshire in the Blue Bell Inn, Halkyn.
I love the TV show ‘Gavin & Stacey’ which is partly set in Barry Island, and there are several unprintable things I would like to get up to with Welsh singing goddess Katherine Jenkins given half the chance.
Yes, my affection for the Welsh and their beautiful country is sound, but I do not believe that Wales should have its own television channel. In short, I am fed up with my money being used for projects or services that are no more than cultural or political vanity projects.
A study last year by the Broadcasters Audience Research Board revealed that 196 out of 890 programmes broadcast on S4C had ZERO audience. That’s right, from Cardiff to Anglesey thousands of Welsh people simply did not tune into vast chunks of the output of their dedicated TV channel.
The background to S4C is fascinating. It was set-up by the Conservative Government in 1982 when Channel 4 launched in the rest of Britain.
It was launched by Gwynor Evans, the then leader of Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru, who threatened to starve himself to death if the station was not created.
Almost thirty years on and times have changed. And whilst there are still obviously Welsh speakers in the country there is clear evidence that increasingly there is no real appetite for a TV channel that broadcasts exclusively in the Welsh language. With the wealth of content also available online, surely a fresh outlook is called for.
The Government has made it clear that it can no longer afford to fund this luxury. It has cleverly passed the buck to the BBC, who will fund it through the licence fee that we are all forced to pay. I do not want my already extortionate licence fee to be used to underwrite a service that appeals to an increasing minority.
The BBC is complaining about the freeze of its licence fee and has announced many cuts in the last few days. If it had any sense it would either offer S4C as a subscription only service (then we would see how popular it really is) or hand the responsbility of it back to the Government with a suggestion that the service is privatised.
You and I should no longer be funding S4C. As the economy once again goes belly-up an obvious cut is surely the public funding of a niche TV channel that nobody seems to care much about.
Far more deserving of a blog is the excellent informed and accurate response by 'Iwan' to Barkes's rant:
*Sigh*. The S4C BARB viewing figures have been debunked many, many times by people who actually know what they're talking about, including the cross-party Welsh Affairs Committee. Yes, a lot of programmes registered as zero, but that's because during daytime S4C runs an award-winning service for pre-school children, and BARB doesn't count those children in its figures. They're actually very popular programmes.
So since the whole premise of this blog is a load of cobblers, it's hard to know how to respond.
Should public funds only be used to fund majority interests? That would mean cancelling all religious programming, all arts programming, all sports programming… even Eastenders isn't watched by a majority of the British public, should it too be cancelled as a minority interest? If not, where exactly would you draw the line? (And bear in mind that Pobol y Cwm, S4C's soap opera, is actually watched by a higher percentage of the available audience than Eastenders.)
You can either believe that some public funding for cultural initiatives is a good thing in general (whether you personally appreciate them or not), or you can believe that funding for S4C, opera, theatre, libraries etc (they're all pretty much in the same boat – appreciated by their audiences, not understood by anyone else), is inherently a bad thing. In which case you're probably a charlatan, but you may well have saved yourself a few pennies, to the cultural detriment of the country. Well done you.