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£3 million investment for S4C’s digital future

S4C will spend an additional £3 million over the next three years on developing the channel’s digital strategy “in order to achieve more for our viewers”.

This was announced by S4C Authority Chairman, Huw Jones, in response to some of the recommendations outlined in the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport’s review of S4C.

“We plan to spend £3 million over the next three years on the digital strategy in particular – in addition to what is already being spent. This is a greater amount, as a percentage of income, than that spent by Channel 4, for example,” says Huw Jones.

Huw Jones and S4C’s Chief Executive Owen Evans discussed the Review with its author Euryn Ogwen Williams, at an event held in conjunction with RTS Wales in Cardiff on Thursday 19 April.

S4C – Huw Jones – Cadeirydd S4C Chairman

In his opening speech, the channel’s Chairman, Huw Jones, said that the review was “a key step in the process of looking to the future”, and an important milestone for S4C as it moves towards creating “a service which will achieve more for our viewers, especially digitally.”

“The digital direction mentioned in the review is not new to us,” says Huw Jones, revealing that the S4C Authority has already approved basic steps towards a new direction in the way the channel connects with viewers.

“The way in which the digital world influences the viewing habits of audiences is plain to see, and the technology allows and encourages us as broadcasters to seek to communicate one-to-one rather than via mass advertising alone. We will move from providing a single channel that must include something for everyone, to being able to offer a personalised service to individual viewers. This is the way forward.”

This means improving and expanding the online viewing platform S4C Clic, and varying the form of the content on offer – long form, short form and mid form. And S4C will work to get to know the viewers better, making it possible for everyone to have a personal homepage.

Recognising the success of the online platform Hansh in reaching the target audience of 16-34 year olds on Facebook and YouTube, S4C hopes to build on this model, along with developing new platforms as well as the current service. While growing the capacity to provide for tomorrow’s audience, the channel must also provide for today. This will involve making “strategic and specific decisions” says Huw Jones, in bridging between the two.

As the channel prepared for the future, the review reinforces the one constant which has remained since S4C was established – which is its role in the Welsh language. To close, Huw Jones says;

“The review raises a number of questions and recommends a number of changes. But there is no recommendation to change S4C’s unique mission of providing a service through the medium of Welsh. It has always been a matter of common sense that S4C has a role to play in the development of the language. Now, there is clear support, but it will also be very important for us to define clearly what this means and how this role is amalgamated with the responsibilities of delivering a media service in the years to come.”

Preparations are already underway for submitting the channel’s plan of action to DCMS by July this year. But S4C will not wait until then before taking action. Over the coming months, further elements of S4C’s strategy will be discussed and announced as the work progresses.