Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Channel hopping

Could responsibility for S4C be among future powers devolved to Cardiff Bay?

Here's an extract from question time yesterday and an insight into the views of the Culture Secretary James Purnell:

Adam Price (Carmarthen, East and Dinefwr) (PC): After a quarter of a century of Sianel Pedwar Cymru, the Welsh language fourth channel, being overseen from Wales and Westminster, does the Secretary of State agree with Plaid Cymru and the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) that responsibility for it should be transferred to Wales, where the majority of Welsh speakers live?

James Purnell: If the hon. Gentleman wants to submit a proposal on that, we are happy to look at it. Traditionally, the process has been dealt with at the UK Government level because broadcasting has implications throughout the UK. In the same way, digital switchover involves spectrum planning throughout the whole of the UK, and the use of the licence fee or the use of public funding has UK-wide implications. I am happy to discuss that issue with him and the authorities in Wales if they want to submit that proposal.

Adam Price says informal talks have already taken place between Cardiff and Whitehall about the prospectn so perhaps we should watch this space.

If it happens, Plaid say S4C's budget should be "ring-fenced" to protect its programming. Would that not lead to Ministers at Westminster dictating how much the Assembly Government could spend in a particular area? The road to devolution has many twists.

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