ITV (LSE: ITV) and S4C have teamed to produce a Welsh-language version of the former’s decidedly flaky regional web video portal, ITV Local. Both public broadcasters are facing increasing financial pressure as ad spend falls and audiences splinter in the digital age, so they have partnered to show both new and archive programming.
ITV Local Cymru content includes some of the 35 hours per week of TV shows ITV Wales already produces for S4C, programmes from ITV Wales’ 50-year Welsh-language archive and a resurrected version of weekly news show Y Dydd, which was aired by ITV Wales forerunner HTV in the 60s, prior to S4C’s establishment two decades ago.
It’s hard to fathom why this material isn’t being published on S4C.co.uk instead of ITVLocal.com. Whilst ITV Wales, like BBC Wales, has long been an independent producer of S4C TV shows, it hasn’t, as a brand, distributed Welsh-language content since S4C’s establishment in 1982, which saw the pair revert to English only. Now the ITV mothership’s commercial decline is meaning cutbacks in its regional provision, however, it looks like ITV Wales is trying to trying to highlight its once-proud track record under its own steam before it’s finally starved of cash.
It’s not the first branding ball that S4C has dropped online – though BBC Wales produces daily news bulletins for S4C’s own TV channel, the predominant Welsh-language web news source operates under the BBC name at BBC.co.uk. S4C launched its web video catch-up service S4/Clic before some other UK broadcasters – ITV Wales’ catalogue would have fit well on the service, which performs better than the ugly concoction of platform-dependent technologies that comprise ITV Local. Release.