S4C have announced a package of measures worth up to £6million for the independent production sector in Wales.
Responding to both the need to reflect the current situation in on-screen programming and the pressures on the Welsh production sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, the channel has initiated a three-part strategy.
1) Rapid Commissioning Round
S4C has allocated £2.8million for an immediate commissioning round. Looking specifically for ideas that arise out of the present situation, the channel wants access documentaries, uplifting programming and comedy to raise the spirts of viewers during the Covid-19 emergency.
The Role of a Public Sector Broadcaster
Director of Content Amanda Rees said:
“S4C has a unique role during this time. As a Public Service Broadcaster, we have a responsibility to serve our audiences with information and entertainment. We need to reflect the reality of people’s lives during this challenging period and people will be looking to us for comfort and company.
The channel’s viewing figures have risen generally during the crisis, with the figures for the nightly magazine programme HENO up 23% and the evening news programme Newyddion S4C up 21%.
“Therefore” said Amanda Rees;
“we want to commission worth up to £2.8million of programming for transmission as soon as possible. We want producers to be as imaginative as possible and flexible in the way they go about producing, without risking the health of their production teams or the general public. We want to commission programmes that chart and reflect our current situation, and programmes that help distract us from our day to day problems.
2) Support for the production sector.
S4C are aware that production companies, their staff and the freelancers that service the sector are all facing a difficult period. S4C Chief Executive Owen Evans has been in contact with both Welsh Government and the Westminster Government underlining the need for financial assistance for both companies and freelancers in the production and creative sector.
Owen Evans, Chief Executive of S4C said:
“In my calls with the Secretary of State at the DCMS, Oliver Dowden and Eluned Morgan, the Minister with responsibility for the Welsh language in Welsh Government last week I underlined the importance of helping the sector.
Both the Welsh Government and the Westminster Government have announced various programmes to help companies and freelancers, and S4C urges the Welsh production sector to take advantage of these.
“However,” Mr Evans continued:
“we can also do our part. To this end, in addition to the new commissions, we are announcing a package of measures to release up to £2.9million to support companies. These include releasing funds to companies developing programs for production as soon as the Covid-19 crisis allows.
The channel is also speeding up payments on productions that already have contracts in place and will be as sympathetic as possible where production milestones have not been fully met due to problems caused by Covid.
“Together” said Owen Evans;
“these measures inject nearly £6million into the independent production sector in Wales at a time of turmoil and uncertainty.
3) On-line support portal.
S4C has also created an on-line resource pulling together all government help, health and safety advice and other Covid-19 related resources for companies on the S4C Production website.
“As the national broadcaster of Wales”, concluded Owen Evans, “it is only right that we should do our utmost to entertain and inform our audiences and to protect our industry. I believe these measures do that”.