DUNCAN BARKES We shouldn’t have to pay for Welsh on air

There is much rumbling in the Valleys regarding S4C, the Welsh language television channel you and I fork out for.

Currently the channel receives a £100m grant from the government. However, as of 2015 the funding will come from the BBC licence fee.

Either way, we are paying for something that is an unnecessary indulgence in these challenging economic times.

I like the Welsh, especially their lamb, cider and music (the Manic Street Preachers being a personal favourite pop beat combo of mine), and one of the best evenings of my life was spent quaffing ale with the finest folk of Flintshire in the Blue Bell Inn, Halkyn.

I love the TV show Gavin and Stacey which is partly set in Barry Island, and there are several unprintable things I would like to get up to with Welsh singing goddess Katherine Jenkins given half the chance.

Yes, my affection for the Welsh and their beautiful country is sound, but I do not believe Wales should have its own television channel.

In short, I am fed up with my money being used for projects or services which are no more than cultural or political vanity projects.

A study last year by the Broadcasters Audience Research Board revealed that 196 out of 890 programmes broadcast on S4C had ZERO audience.

That’s right, from Cardiff to Anglesey, thousands of Welsh people simply did not tune in to vast chunks of the output of their dedicated TV channel.

The background to S4C is fascinating. It was set-up by the Conservative Government in 1982 when Channel 4 launched in the rest of Britain.

It was launched by Gwynor Evans, the then leader of Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru, who threatened to starve himself to death if the station was not created.

Almost 30 years on and times have changed. I would wager there are fewer Welsh speakers in the country than ever before and that there is no real appetite for a TV channel that broadcasts exclusively in the Welsh language.

The government has made it clear it can no longer afford to fund this luxury. It has cleverly passed the buck to the BBC, who will fund it through the licence fee we are all forced to pay.

I do not want my already extortionate licence fee to be used to underwrite a service that appeals to an increasing minority.

The BBC is complaining about the freeze of its licence fee. If it had any sense it would either offer S4C as a subscription only service (then we would see how popular it really is) or hand the responsibility of it back to the government with a suggestion that the service is privatised.

You and I should no longer be funding S4C. As the economy once again goes belly-up, an obvious cut is surely the public funding of a niche TV channel that nobody seems to care about.

* Don’t let pint jug go down the drain

The introduction of the new two-thirds pint glass or the ‘schooner’ has been criticised by the Campaign for Real Ale as ‘unnecessary’ and rightly so. But if we are going to get worked up about what we sup our ale from, then there is a far more important issue that needs addressing.

More pubs are using the straight pint glass as a matter of course while phasing out the iconic pint jug.

Recently I have taken to enjoying my beer from the latter as I feel the straight glass is too chavvy.

One pub that offers you the choice is the Star and Garter in East Dean. Other boozers should follow their example.

The campaign to preserve the pint jug starts here. Cheers!