Westminster's Welsh Affairs Committee has launched a new inquiry looking at public service broadcasting in Wales.

The committee of MPs is launching an investigation into a wide range of issues including current funding models for public service broadcasting in Wales, how the privatisation of Channel 4 will affect the broadcasting sector in Wales, and whether a move away from free-to-air sports broadcasting would ensure more investment in Welsh grassroots sports.

The new inquiry has been launched after a committee meeting last week with S4C chief executive Siân Doyle, and chairman Rhodri Williams; during which the latter said that privatising Channel 4 "would mean a loss of £17 million to the Welsh economy".

Ms Doyle said how eight out of ten of S4C's most popular programmes were sport, and that one of the broadcaster's biggest challenges is that the Wales men's football team's games are expected to go behind a paywall from 2024 onwards.

READ MORE: How Wales' football team is attracting viewers to S4C

"The people of Wales will not be able to see Wales games, in Welsh, for free - a subscription will need to be paid", she said.

"I think that is something the government would be able to help with. Because we want to make sure that the flourishing of the Welsh language is essential. And sport is an integral part of what we do."

Yr Egin - S4C's headquarters in Carmarthen. The broadcaster's chiefs have inspired an inquiry into Welsh broadcasting by MPs in Westminster.S4C's chief executive, Siân Doyle.

The committee has already heard how smart TVs have a role in making S4C visible and easily accessible to audiences, and of calls for investment in training to ensure the future of independent creative companies in Wales.

While answering a question in last week's meeting about concerns he had about Channel 4's privatisation, Rhodri Williams said: "The question for me is not ownership but what the remit is that goes with it."

According to Williams, Channel 4's current remit means that a quota of its programmes must be produced by independent companies.

"Companies from outside London," he said, "which includes companies here in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, specifically."

READ MORE: Privatising Channel 4 would have 'negative' effect on Welsh economy

Losing that, said Williams: "would mean a loss of £17 million to the Welsh economy."

Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Stephen Crabb MP, said: "Public service broadcasters in Wales are facing a period of enormous change as more and more viewers choose to stream content through online platforms. Despite pressures on funding and investment, broadcasters continue to deliver high quality and original output in Wales. 

"As a Committee, we are keen to identify what can be done to secure the future of public service broadcasting in Wales. Among other issues, we are exploring whether the model for public service broadcasting in Wales is sustainable, and how we can ensure the survival of free-to-air content."

The committee has invited written submissions of evidence from the industry to be submitted to them by Friday 22nd August 2022.

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