S4C’s Contribution to Society and the Economy

Since S4C was established in 1982, it has been very aware of its contribution to Wales and more widely.

As a public service broadcaster, we have an important role and responsibility as a facilitator and enabler, using our resources to maximise the benefits to our viewers and to society more widely.

By working with a range of partners, we are working hard to contribute to the future of the Welsh language, culture, environment and economy.

Policy Statement

In December 2022, the Unitary Board approved a policy statement that brings together S4C’s existing activities in terms of social and economic contribution.

This policy statement aligns with the new corporate strategy approved earlier in the reporting year, and the policy priorities reflect elements of the corporate strategy – which underlines how S4C’s social and economic contribution is at the heart of the organisation’s wider activities.

S4C’s Social Purpose: To ensure that the Welsh language is part of everyone’s life in Wales

Policy Priorities
“The Welsh langu age belongs to us all”

Increase the numbers engaging with S4C’s content in Welsh, to help reach the million (and double the daily usage)

Reflecting Wales in all its diversity

Reflect Welsh communities by setting clear diversity targets, both internally and across our productions

Creating Value Sustainably

Create value through our resources to support the local economy; and in doing so, to work towards reducing the carbon footprint of all our activities

Developing Talent

Use our resources and influence to develop talent within S4C and the wider sector, as well as to support skills development

The new post of Diversity, Sustainability and Social Purpose Leader was created in spring 2023. Among the responsibilities of the Leader will be to lead S4C’s activities within this new policy statement, and to develop relevant strategies as necessary.


“The Welsh language belongs to us all”

Since 1982, the Welsh language has been central to the existence of S4C and a key focus for all its provision. The vital role S4C plays in maintaining and promoting the Welsh language is at the heart of its unique public purpose, and this was formalised as S4C received confirmation of its Licence Fee settlement from April 2022 onwards.

We now have a significant contribution to offer towards realising the objectives of the Welsh Government’s strategy ‘Cymraeg 2050: a million Welsh speakers’, namely: to increase the number of Welsh speakers, to increase the use of the Welsh language and to create favourable conditions to ensure the Welsh language flourishes.

We are therefore – through our content – seeking to facilitate access to and use of the Welsh language for everyone of all ages and linguistic abilities.

This is particularly important in relation to education, and we are working with key partners to develop educational content to support the curriculum in Wales and to ensure that S4C content can be used by learners – whatever their age. To achieve these objectives, we have appointed to two new posts during 2022–23, namely the Welsh Language Strategy Lead, and the Education Content Executive.

Alongside facilitating access to our content for new speakers, it is vital that Welsh speakers of all linguistic abilities choose to watch S4C content regularly.

To evaluate our contribution in this respect, we will be looking over the coming years to increase ‘habit’ among our audience – namely the percentage who choose to watch S4C content on one or more platforms, for at least two hours, and across three or more days per month.


Reflecting Wales in all its diversity

It is essential that S4C portrays and celebrates Wales in all its diversity and working towards this remains a priority for S4C. The audience sees this as an important aspect of S4C’s work.

68% of viewers who speak Welsh consider S4C to be a channel that successfully reflected the diversity of people living in Wales in terms of age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity across its programmes during 2022–23 (Source: S4C Image Tracking Survey, Beaufort Research, 2023). In the same survey the previous year, the comparable figure was 59%.

In order for S4C to continue to serve and grow its audience, as well as contribute to a strong broadcasting sector, the long-term commitment to ensure that representation on and behind the cameras continues and is crucial.

We are therefore working with the production sector to ensure that our content reflects our communities in all their diversity.

S4C is joining the Diamond system which is co-ordinated by the Creative Diversity Network. This is the system established by a number of leading UK broadcasters to collect consistent diversity and representation data on the programmes they commission. S4C’s intention in adopting the system is to increase diversity on and behind the ‘scenes’ in the content of S4C in order to reflect Wales today.

In evaluating our progress, we will compare the data from the Diamond system on S4C content against the 2021 Census diversity results for Wales. We will report on our progress once the Diamond system is in place.

As well as taking steps to ensure that our content reflects Wales in all its diversity, we are also working to increase diversity, equality and inclusion across our corporate activities.


Creating Value Sustainably

Alongside our social contribution, S4C is making a significant contribution to the Welsh economy.

Almost 80% of S4C’s public funding is invested in programming and content. This represents investment in the services provided to the audience and in the production sector in Wales.

We invest and commission our content from production companies across Wales and our supply chain companies in turn play an important role in their local economies.

We are also keen to support the sector to develop, and assist companies to realise their potential. This in turn will strengthen our supply chain. The steps we have taken so far include facilitating more collaboration between the larger and smaller companies – such as by encouraging the use of production equipment and resources by smaller companies when they are not required by the larger companies that own them.

At the same time, S4C’s new commercial strategy aims to contribute to Wales’ economic prosperity by, amongst other objectives, establishing a growth fund to invest in companies with potential to grow, and which align with S4C’s purpose.

Taken together, all this activity therefore means that S4C’s contribution to the Welsh economy is substantial – and it is important that this contribution is felt across Wales.

Our objective is to spend over 95% of our content budget with producers based in Wales. In 2022–23, we succeeded in spending 98% of the content budget within Wales (2021–22: 99%).

The above data relates to the location of the production company offices, and does not reflect production activity or expenditure in locations across Wales)

Our objective over the coming years is to ensure a more even distribution of content spend across Wales.

In December 2020, S4C commissioned Arad Research to review S4C’s expenditure during 2019–20 and to undertake an economic impact assessment on S4C’s contribution to the UK and Welsh economy. Arad calculated that S4C, during the financial year in question, created an economic impact of £197.4m on the UK economy, and £141.1m on the Welsh economy.

This means that for every £1 of public income S4C received in 2019–20, we created the following economic impact:

• £2.03 in the UK Economy; and
• £1.45 in the Welsh Economy.

In approving the policy statement on S4C’s Social and Economic Contribution, the Unitary Board committed to commissioning an assessment of S4C’s economic and social impact every two years, to ensure an independent evaluation of that impact.

During spring 2023, Wavehill was appointed to undertake an independent evaluation of S4C’s economic and social impact during the reporting year 2022–23. Wavehill is expected to report to the Unitary Board on their findings in autumn 2023.

Of course, in supporting and investing in the economic growth of Wales, S4C is acutely aware of the need to do so in an environmentally sustainable way.

Since September 2021, S4C has partnered with the BAFTA albert consortium – which brings together some of the UK’s largest broadcasters and production companies – in order to achieve this, and to incorporate sustainability into our production process by:

• Enforcing the use of the albert carbon footprint calculator for all the content we commission; and
• Encouraging productions to complete the albert certification process.

From 01 January 2022, it became mandatory for companies producing content for S4C to comply with the above requirements (unless the production is a series under 15 minutes long and / or the total budget is less than £50,000).

During 2022–23, some 92% of S4C productions complied with albert requirements – a result that was lower than was projected as a result of the number of sports broadcasts during the reporting year.

The BAFTA albert consortium also offers free training covering climate change, its implications for the TV industry and what individuals can do to make a difference.

As a result of our partnership with albert, S4C was one of 12 broadcasters and streamers who came together in November 2021 to sign up to the Climate Content Pledge, organised by albert. This was the first time the industry has worked together on such a statement.

S4C and other signatories – including the BBC, BBC Studios, BritBox International, Channel 4, Channel 5 / ViacomCBS, Discovery UK and Eire, ITV, RTE, Sky, STV, and UKTV – are committed to using our content to help audiences understand what tackling climate change could mean for them, as well as informing and inspiring sustainable choices.

Off screen, S4C is working to reduce the impact of our corporate activities on the environment.

In recent years, we have taken steps to reduce unnecessary travel and increase the use of video conferencing. The use of public transport is encouraged as much as possible.

In 2022–23, 100% of the electricity used by S4C at Yr Egin came from renewable sources (2021–22: 88%). Furthermore, the majority of our office waste was recycled during the same period.

S4C has prepared a separate Sustainability Report, which appears in the ‘Operational Reports’ section of this Annual Report.

Our aim is to reduce the carbon footprint of our corporate activities over the coming years, and agree a target date to complete the transition to net zero-based operation.


Developing Talent

Since the very beginning, S4C has played a crucial role in developing talent and skills within the sector in Wales.

The nature of S4C’s commissioning as a non-content creating broadcaster has enabled our content partners to invest in the skills development of their staff over the years – and S4C itself continues to invest and lead the way to support this aim.

Supporting people from all backgrounds to come to work in the sector is also a priority for S4C. We are therefore pleased to have continued to work with partners such as It’s My Shout, Screen Alliance Wales and Careers Wales during the reporting period to realise this, and to have been involved in the RAD Cymru Wales pilot – a paid training scheme for those from under-represented backgrounds.

We have also formalised our partnership with Sgil Cymru, and jointly invested with Creative Wales in the Criw scheme to enable more apprentice opportunities on S4C productions.

And Hansh: Dim Sbin, our pioneering training partnership with ITV Wales established in 2018, has also continued successfully

All these activities help us to maintain a highly skilled workforce that underpins a world-class production sector in Wales and attracts TV production, film and digital content from around the world.


Evaluating The Social and Economic Contribution of S4C

Our intention is to report on our progress against the new policy priorities in our annual reports from 2023–24 onwards.

To allow evaluation of progress, a series of bespoke indicators are being developed. The relevant targets have not yet been agreed for each of the metrics.