Ensuring value for audiences

S4C aims to ensure that the highest possible percentage of S4C’s public income is spent on content and services that are comparable in terms of quality with that of other UK networks, whilst ensuring programmes are produced in the most efficient way and ensuring S4C’s overheads remain low.

Value for money is the relationship between S4C’s cost and performance as a service and as an organisation. For a public service broadcaster, this means providing a high quality, comprehensive service on television and online platforms that is used and valued by the audience, and doing so efficiently in terms of the financial resources available.

S4C’s first priority is to provide high quality services, on television and on relevant online platforms, which meet the needs of the audience. It is also important to ensure that the investment in S4C’s services ensures appropriate value for money. It is therefore a key objective to ensure that the highest possible percentage of S4C’s public income is spent on programmes and content.

Ensuring that S4C’s running costs as an organisation continue to be a small percentage of S4C’s spending is another aspect of this objective.

S4C has delivered significant efficiencies and cost savings over recent years with staffing, estate and technological rationalisation. As a result, administration and overheads are now just 3% of S4C’s total spend – a figure which has continued on a downward trend since 2018–19 – with the remainder of spend supporting content creation and distribution.


Prioritising spending on programmes and content – allocation of S4C’s expenditure

Most of S4C’s public finance is invested in programmes and content.

The allocation of the S4C Public Service Fund during 2022–23 shows that the majority of S4C’s expenditure continues to be directly invested in its programmes and content, which represents both investment in the services provided for the audience and investment in the production sector in Wales.



S4C is one of the most cost-efficient public service broadcasters in the UK

By working closely with producers to manage the cost of producing each hour of content, S4C has a proud record of commissioning cost-effective programmes and has managed to protect the number of hours that are broadcast, as well as the range, variety and quality of the service.

S4C is one of the most cost-efficient PSBs in the UK with a cost per hour significantly lower than other broadcasters, commissioning at a fraction (typically 25 – 33%) of similar genre rates applied by other public service broadcasters.

However, we know that the cost of making programmes is increasing, with global spending on some genres – particularly scripted drama – rising to unprecedented levels. This places greater pressure on future budgets as we compete for on- and off-screen talent. Recent trends in the creative industries have also had inflationary effects on production costs.

We continue to work with TAC (Teledwyr Annibynnol Cymru) and individual production companies to obtain the best value for audiences from our public funding.


Cost per hour – programmes commissioned by S4C (excluding digital only and digital first)


The effect of Covid-19, alongside the change in S4C’s VAT status, has resulted in substantial increases or decreases over recent years in the cost per hour of some genres – in particular drama, arts and culture, and religion.


Cost per hour – digital only and digital first content commissioned by S4C (excluding social media content)