Welsh and Gaelic language speakers will benefit from increased programming under new laws proposed by the UK government.
Decades-old broadcasting regulations will be updated to give the UK’s vital public service system a deal fit for the streaming age and make sure the importance of programmes broadcast in the UK’s regional and minority languages is recognised in the public service broadcaster (PSB) remit for the first time.
The broadcasting white paper published today also includes plans for regional and minority language content published on digital platforms to be captured in S4C, STV and other broadcasters’ public service remit.
Geographical broadcasting restrictions will be removed from the Welsh language broadcaster S4C so people can enjoy Welsh content no matter where they are in the UK – supporting the Welsh economy, culture and society, and the UK government’s ambition to see one million Welsh speakers by 2050.
Moves to boost the prominence of programming by channels such as BBC, S4C and STV will support Welsh and Gaelic language broadcasting in Wales and Scotland by ensuring they are available and easy to find on smart TVs, streaming sticks and set-top boxes. These are part of plans to give PSBs greater flexibility in how they meet their obligations and strengthen their ability to target younger audiences amid a rapidly changing media landscape.
UK Media Minister Julia Lopez said:
“Broadcasting in regional and minority languages provides a crucial opportunity for speakers to enjoy a range of quality shows in a language familiar to them, and a means of cultural expression for communities across the UK.
“We will – for the first time – make the importance of programmes broadcast in the UK’s regional and minority languages clear in law by including it in our new public service remit for television.”
Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said:
“Hundreds of thousands of people access Welsh-language content every week and our plans will provide greater support to broadcasters like S4C and make it easier for audiences to find content in the language of their choice.
“Welsh-language broadcasting and production plays a crucial part in the creative industries and the UK Government will continue to support the sector as we work towards our ambition to see one million Welsh speakers by 2050.
“Today’s announcement follows our commitment of £7.5m a year for S4C’s digital development, ensuring the widest possible range of platforms”
The government will continue to support long-term commitments to support cross-border broadcasting on the island of Ireland including funding for the Northern Ireland digital terrestrial television multiplex that has carried RTÉ and TG4 services to Northern Ireland since 2012. It will also consider the scope to ensure the prominence of regional and minority language services.
The government’s Broadcasting White Paper sets out a huge range of measures to protect British content by giving public service broadcasters a more flexible remit for the programmes they produce and show.
This includes plans to better give viewers of video-on-demand services the same protections from harmful content as TV viewers by establishing a new Ofcom code and regulatory powers on content standards.
The government will pursue a change of ownership of Channel 4 to give it the tools it needs to succeed in the future as a public service broadcaster while protecting its distinctiveness.