S4C - Welsh Affairs Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Urdd Gobaith Cymru

In the opinion of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, Wales' largest children and young people's organisation with 50,000 members under the age of 25:

  • The provision of good-quality Welsh language programmes is fundamental to establishing a linguistic context for those who speak Welsh and who wish to learn it.
  • It is vital that this is funded to the necessary level.
  • A good partnership already exists between S4C and the Urdd, but the Urdd would be happy to co-operate and work with S4C to identify further opportunities for collaboration to offer opportunities for children and young people, thus developing new audiences.
  • We believe that decisions about the development of S4C should be made in Wales.

1.   The Urdd is an organisation for children and young people which has 50,000 members under the age of 25 throughout Wales. We hold cultural, social and sporting activities at a local and national level. We organise eisteddfodau, sports competitions and maintain three residential centres, where over 40,000 children and young people come to stay annually.

2.   Our aim is to offer the children and young people of Wales an opportunity to live their lives through the medium of Welsh, developing confidence and respect for each other.

3.   We would have serious concerns if the new arrangements were to be detrimental to the Welsh language—the language of many young people in Wales. Whatever the arrangements, we call upon S4C to develop programming for children and young people and we wish to co-operate further with S4C to develop the provision by broadcasting programmes which reflect the Urdd's activities.

4.   Adequate funding is vitally important to ensure that the quality is of good standard. It must be accepted that creating programmes incurs costs, more costly than, for example, organising social activity on a local level.

5.   S4C is an important part of the linguistic context in Wales and an integral part of the effort to ensure language use and that the language is heard and used. S4C is not simply a television service but part of a language strategy. Language experts across the globe emphasise the importance of broadcasting in lesser-used languages in order to reach the audience and show that the language is contemporary, technologically modern and thus relevant to the age. Only since the advent of Radio Cymru in the 70s and S4C in the 80s have Welsh speakers heard the varied language that exists across the country and this has been vitally important, as was the case with the English language and the BBC in the 1920's.

6.   The contribution of S4C can be compared to the translation of the Bible into Welsh which elevated the language to a very privileged status. It was a new use of the language and a new medium—it was a crucial development in that age and a "modern" development. No comparable thing happened with other languages across Britain or Europe with the result that the Welsh language survived whilst others have died out. Therefore the existence of a Welsh channel and radio services and all other technological media are vitally important to the language.

7.   Artistically S4C has provided opportunities for the talents of children and young people over the years—talents that would not have seen the light of day without the existence of S4C.

8.   The partnership between S4C and the Urdd has meant we as an organisation have been able to develop young talents and have provided more opportunities for children and young people.

9.   The fact that television is available in Welsh ensures that the Welsh language is a "normal" language, in the same way as Microsoft in Welsh normalises the language, as do international companies that advertise in Welsh; mobile phones, websites.

10.  The fact that there is so much discussion about the quality of S4C programmes proves that the people of Wales demonstrate ownership of the channel.

11.  The economic contribution made by S4C is significant especially in Cardiff and particularly in the north west where the percentage of people who have been employed through S4C has been a major boost to the local economy.

12.  There is co-operation between S4C and the Urdd on several levels. There exists a partnership with the Urdd's magazines which have a monthly readership of 30,000 and we are partners in the Wales Children's Laureate Project.

13.  The independence of the channel is vitally important and the model of deterring political interference has enabled the development of services that reflect the opinions of the Welsh audience. As an organisation we receive much praise for programmes from our Eisteddfod and the Bryn Terfel Urdd Gobaith Cymru Scholarship. The loss of this independence, and the funding to maintain it, will be a significant loss to the development of the language in modern Wales.

November 2010

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Prepared 11 May 2011