Eight out of the ten most popular programmes on S4C are sports, according to the channel's Chief Executive.

Siân Doyle and Rhodri Williams, Chair of S4C, gave evidence in front of members of the Welsh Affairs Committee in the House of Commons this morning, July 13.

Over the next four years, S4C has secured free broadcasting rights to show the matches of Wales’ men's national football team from 2022 and 2024, and Wales rugby matches in the Six Nations Championship.

But, from 2025 onwards, there are concerns about securing such free-to-air broadcasting rights for the Welsh language.

Eight out of the ten most popular programs on S4C are sports, in particular the Wales men's football team, according to the channel's Chief Executive. Photo: PAChief Executive of S4C, Siân Doyle

In response to Ben Lake MP's question about the "challenges" this presented, Siân Doyle spoke of  the "importance" of broadcasting sports programs on S4C.

"There are so many opportunities to bring a new audience to the channel by having sport on it," she said. "We know it's part of Welsh culture - we all grew up with rugby or football, or whatever.”

According to Ms Doyle, the channel broadcasts: "some 430 hours of sport which is 28 per cent of what brings us a large audience... Eight out of ten of our most popular programs are sport."

READ MORE: 

She added that the Welsh football team's recent victories against Austria and Ukraine had "helped" attract those audiences.

As for the challenges, Ms Doyle said: "Our audience says they don't want to see these big games go behind the paywall."

Eight out of the ten most popular programs on S4C are sports, in particular the Wales men's football team, according to the channel's Chief Executive. Photo: PAWales fans. Photo: PA

Broadcasting via the medium of Welsh, she said, is: "Essential to the success of the language in Wales."

Lake agreed with her but also wanted to know what the government could do to help.

"How much of a worry is it for the channel?" in terms of free broadcasting rights, he asked.

Ms Doyle said: "When it comes to the Six Nations, we are fine because we work with the BBC. In terms of the football games (men's national team), everyone is thinking at the moment that 2022-24 is great ... the challenge we have now is 2024-28."

READ MORE: 

That is because the company that has secured the broadcasting contract, said Ms Doyle, puts the games: “behind the paywall. The people of Wales will not be able to see Wales games, in Welsh, for free - a subscription will need to be paid.

"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."

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.