Wales and the Welsh Language
The Welsh language is central to S4C and its services. Our content in the Welsh language is the reason our audience wants to come to us and we must ensure that they want to spend time with our content and stay with us.
Promoting the Welsh language with relevant content therefore remains a fundamental priority for S4C and is central to our existence. We need to ensure that we facilitate access to and use of the Welsh language for everyone of all ages and linguistic abilities.
The Welsh Government’s strategy ‘Cymraeg 2050: A million Welsh speakers’ emphasises the importance of S4C in that regard and, undoubtedly, S4C has a prominent role to play in leading the way across the three main themes of the Cymraeg 2050 strategy, namely: to increase the number of Welsh speakers, increase the use of the Welsh language and create favourable conditions to ensure the prosperity of the Welsh language.
In confirming S4C’s financial settlement from the Licence Fee for the period 01 April 2022, the Secretary of State at the time acknowledged the key contribution that S4C can make to the delivery of the Cymraeg 2050 strategy. We are therefore working closely with the Welsh Government, and other key partners on delivering this vital strategy.
By establishing S4C as the home of the national experiences of Wales, we can take ownership of national events – from music to sport – and leading the conversation around them. As a result of these national events, we can attract more diverse audiences and new speakers, offering them access to a wider range of S4C content that they would not normally consider, thus increasing the amount of Welsh they see and hear.
Prominence and Availability
Like the rest of the public service broadcasters, the S4C linear TV service relies heavily on the prominence it receives on digital terrestrial, cable and satellite television in Wales. Ensuring viewers in Wales see the services that are relevant to them at the start of electronic programme guides is an important part of getting the best value from the investment made in the content. As viewing habits develop and increasingly rely on digital platforms, it is essential that S4C is given prominence on digital user interfaces on fair and reasonable terms.
Our strategy prioritises how we distribute our content on a wider range of platforms than the traditional linear service in order to respond to audience demands.
Broadcasting is more competitive than ever before, with a range of international publishers now seeking to attract audiences to their content across a range of platforms.
The creativity and needs of our audience must therefore be at the heart of everything S4C does – a focal point for our opportunities and strategic decisions, and central to the way S4C commissions, schedules, distributes, develops, sells and communicates. Creativity should drive our decisions.
Understanding our audience by collecting relevant data on their habits is a vital part of the process, allowing us to personalise the experiences of individuals in their involvement with S4C content. Similarly, we will continue to gather regular feedback on appreciation and feelings towards S4C from different representative groups, as well as looking at the overall performance of our content.
We have a good idea of the demographics of our audience, but there is a need to continue this analysis and scrutiny to identify further their characteristics.
All the data we collect will be drawn together in a clear dashboard, to be used to inform all our decisions – in order to ensure what we do is for the benefit of the audience.
By getting to know our audience better, and building relationships with them as individuals, we can tailor our content to ensure we meet their needs.
In addition, special focus on reaching a greater proportion of younger viewers in mixed-language households will be an important element of broadening the audience, and helping to ensure S4C’s continued relevance in a linguistic landscape that is always changing.
Publishing Our Content
The combination of new digital platforms, together with new global content providers, has revolutionised viewing habits in Wales, as everywhere else. Welsh language content distributed by S4C has to compete with content from some of the world’s leading production companies.
In recent years, we have seen our content – particularly our dramas – sold to other broadcasters and platforms around the world. We want this to continue, by commissioning content of the highest standard, that is internationally recognised.
At the same time, we must extend our reach and grow the impact of our service within communities. By commissioning engaging content which gives rise to conversations, we aim to reach a wider audience locally. In that respect, we will continue to prioritise drama, sport, and content for children – which have already proved successful in attracting a wider audience to S4C.
S4C content on whatever platform it is distributed must be compelling and of high quality. S4C content must also be distributed in the appropriate formats and on the platforms that are popular with users. We do not think of S4C as a linear television channel from now on, but as a distributor of Welsh language content on a range of platforms (with the linear service being one of those platforms).
As a result of that evolution, our content strategy will also evolve to better serve our audience. Using consumer data to drive our commissioning decisions we will publish bold, engaging content that seeks to meet the needs of our audience and stimulates the mind.
We will also consider the target audience at the beginning of the commissioning process, in order to decide on which platform or combination of platforms the content should be published for their attention in order to reach the greatest possible proportion of that audience. Varying the commissioning process in this way will facilitate our commitment to creating more digital-first and digital-only content.
In addition, the communication and promotion around the commission will also be discussed at the beginning of the development process, to ensure that a creative package is developed at the outset to meet the needs of the audience, and to reach them in the most effective way.
Diversity, Inclusion and Representation
Diversity, inclusion and representation are central to all S4C’s activities.
Everyone in Wales and beyond who watch S4C content, on any platform, must feel that they are reflected in our range of content.
We also want our workforce and our suppliers’ workforce to include the widest range of people, and are working with production companies and other partners to attract new talent to the sector.
Supporting the Economy
As a public institution, S4C has a responsibility to maximise the benefit to Wales from our influence and resources.
Creating and maintaining purposeful partnerships with other broadcasters and various other organisations will be an increasingly important part of S4C’s future. There is a need to take a more strategic and long-term approach by grasping the strengths and abilities of others from different sectors to drive our creativity and innovation and to help us address some of the biggest challenges.
Alongside this corporate strategy, we also developed a new strategy for S4C’s commercial activities. This commercial strategy will ensure that we identify partners across the world in order to obtain new markets for our content, and place an emphasis on co-producing content of the highest quality in Wales to bring additional investment to the sector and best value to S4C’s audience.
Maintaining interesting partnerships – both in Wales and internationally – will be an effective way of developing talent, improving skills, ensuring diversity and empowering Welsh communities to feel that they want to be part of S4C.