Speaking at an RTS Wales event on the 13th December, Amanda Rees, S4C’s Creative Content Director, (above left with Judith Winnan), described how S4C, “aims to create the conversation, touch the heart, and fire the imagination”. The broadcaster’s output is certainly prolific, screening 6300 hours of Welsh language programming a year across all genres, including drama, factual, news & current affairs, children’s programmes, the arts, and sport. But Rees acknowledges that the channel’s core audience is changing, and her strategy for 2018 is to reach new viewers. Rees explained that, “we need to press the re-set button and adapt the schedule”, announcing that S4C’s two very popular soaps, Pobol y Cwm and Rownd a Rownd, would be moved to create a new one-hour 8pm weekday family viewing slot in the new year, aimed at audiences that might not currently be familiar with the channel.
Before joining S4C Rees was already an experienced producer. She had filmed in over 35 countries, for Channel 4, BBC, ITV, National Geographic, UKTV, and Foxtel. Her own production company, TiFiNi, was nominated for a Grierson Award, a Bulldog, and a Broadcast prize (for 2015’s Best Documentary) for Finding Mum and Dad. Rees has aimed to extend S4C’s demographic with new challenging programmes, such as the recent crime drama series, Bang, set in Port Talbot, which mixed English and Welsh language dialogue, to offer a more realistic reflection of the local area. Other content which has extended the channel’s reach includes Hansh, the youth orientated on-line content portal, and sports, including live international football.
In response to a question from RTS Wales Chair, Judith Winnan, on the challenges faced by S4C, Rees suggested that, “budgets are tight and we have to be inventive, but it’s hard to grow without additional resources. Our drama tariff is normally less than £250K per hour, but we can add value through co-productions”.
Commenting on S4C’s Christmas schedule, Rees suggested that there would be, “a lot of laughing, eating, crying and singing”. It will certainly be a challenging new year for S4C. A DDCMS review of the service, conducted during the autumn, is likely to be published in spring 2018.