Last month many Welsh speakers were left disappointed at the announcement of cutbacks to be made to the weekly soap opera ‘Pobol y Cwm’. The costs have apparently become too much for the producers and they will be reducing the number of episodes broadcast. Filmed at Roath Lock in Cardiff Bay, the Welsh-language soap is loved by many and has a dedicated following. These cuts should save the programme one million pounds per year, through plans to remove the Sunday omnibus as well as one of the five weekly episodes. It will also have a two-week break in every twelve-month period.
No More Omnibus
Although mostly funded by the BBC, it is S4C that pays for the omnibus and they have found that their profits have dropped, partly due to the increase in online viewing.
Sian Gwynedd is the head of programmes at BBC Wales and oversees programmes that are entirely in the Welsh language. She understands the viewer’s frustration as she said: “This is obviously disappointing news but we recognise that S4C, just like the BBC, is operating in a very tough financial climate at the moment. We’re also confident a four-night-a-week Pobol y Cwm will continue to appeal to audiences the length and breadth of Wales. Pobol y Cwm is a flagship programme for both the BBC and S4C and we have exciting story lines ahead in this, the 40th year of its illustrious history.”
Uncertain Future for the Production Team
Gwynedd also tried to reassure the production team, saying: “It’s too early at this stage to say what the precise impact will be on the production team but our immediate focus is to discuss the implications of the change with production staff, artists, trade unions, the Writers Guild and Equity.”
If they do make a saving of £1 million, S4C plan to reinvest in the development of new programmes. They also have plans to continue to work with the BBC in order to deliver high-quality drama. This hasn’t satisfied the protestors though, with plans afoot for a series of demonstrations in order to raise awareness.