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S4C's Chief Executive Huw Jones told a conference of European TV industry delegates that the world's smaller broadcasters can compete in today's multi-channel commercial market by delivering high-quality programming.
Jones also warned that public service broadcasters need the commitment and support of their national governments if home-grown programming in Europe is to meet the challenge of cheap, attractive American imports.
In a keynote speech delivered at the European Broadcasting Union's Presentation 2001 conference in Mainz, Germany, Jones said that these were crucial days for public service broadcasting in Europe.
Jones said: "National governments everywhere have to believe in the crucial importance of public service broadcasting for sustaining national culture. Part of our job is to help politicians and viewers see the big picture in the future of television, to persuade them to create appropriate and effective regulations and organisations for their own countries."
In his speech, Jones said he was optimistic that smaller broadcasters could compete by producing quality programming that the public would "cherish and demand".
He added: "If the quality is high, audiences will tend to prefer programmes from their own countries to imported ones. But smaller countries are much less able to produce substantial revenues from public service licences or from advertising, even though making quality programmes costs exactly the same. Smaller countries therefore face a far greater danger that their television viewing will be dominated by commercial broadcasters who are free to import high-quality, attractive American programmes at will."
The three-day conference, which attracts delegates from all over Europe, is also discussing themes such as the promotional potential of the internet on television, and the challenge of attracting a younger audience. (CD)
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