back to article Zero* welcome for 200 Welsh TV shows - in Wales

Almost 200 Welsh language programmes broadcast by S4C last month attracted precisely zero viewers, leaked audience figures show. The figures suggest an incoming Tory government will have the Welsh language channel right next to the BBC on its media working-over list. According to the Western Mail, which obtained leaked BARB …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Tom_


    Those figures aren't actually true, though, are they? OK, if it's cable TV then the provider knows what channel the viewer is watching, but if it's broadcast TV, they're just asking a sample group and extrapolating.

    Normally, that's fair enough, but if you're going to claim exactly zero viewers then you're basically making things up.

    1. Stuart Castle Silver badge


      These figures are considered more accurate than the returns from Cable Boxes purely because they track what the people actually watch rather than what channel the box is tuned to..

      After all, if you tune your cable box to (say) BBC1 , then go out of the room, are you watching BBC1?

      Barb (when compiling the figures) do attempt to determine how many people are in the room at the time, and what each person is watching.

    2. Jimbo 6


      There's no explanation of how the survey is done (presumably - as it is carried out by the BARB - it involves a sample of people manually recording their watched programs, rather than being recorded centrally through feedback from their digi-boxes). Given that 1000 people is usually considered a representative sample of the 60 million people in the UK, and the population of Wales is approximately 5% of that total, and the number of Cymry Cymraeg* is around 20% of that, this conclusion might well be extrapolated from only 10 people's responses.

      I also note that the original article does state that "A zero rating means...watched by fewer than 1,000 people" - so to extrapolate the other way, it's the same level of popularity as a BBC2 arts program that's watched by <100,000 people across the UK. Probably not, in fact, zero.

      *That's Welsh-speaking Welsh people to you Saxons

      Flames, cos we likes our real fires, us.

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        Re: Agreed

        The BARB FAQ says that the panel is 5,100 homes, so if they've been selected in a statistically sound manner, we're looking at 51 households.

        However, I can't find the "20 cell matrix" that BARB use to check demographics on their website, so there's not even any guarantee that they have properly accounted for Welsh speakers in the survey.

        I've frequently heard the criticism that both BARB and RAJAR are devalued by the requirement to be owner occupier in order to participate in the survey, which means the results are biased to middle class viewing habits, and in the case of rural Wales this often means "white settler".

        The only way for anyone to fully understand these figures is with confirmation that Welsh language is proportionally represented, and with a plot of viewing figures for all Welsh-language programmes (which will reveal the bias in the sample set -- I'm guessing that we could determine pretty quickly where only one household has a child in a particular age range, for example).

  2. Peter Mylward

    Digital I think

    As a welsh dwelling Englishman, I should point out that this looks to be referring to the digi option of s4c, which is welsh language only. The terrestrial option serves up a mash of time-shifted C4 stuff with a smattering of welsh language in mornings and early evenings. As C4 is carried on digi terrestrial in Wales, only welsh officionadies search out this stuff, and there aren't many of those about.

    I would be willing to bet most of the viewers will either be of the older generation or more likely middle class English emigre parents trying to get timothy into the local lingo, in case local government, s4c or a pocket of bizarrely welsh speaking Patagonia call in later life and welsh somehow becomes useful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Digital important in wales

      In some of the lesser-populated areas of Wales (around Lampeter, Aberystwyth (I think), digital is the only option these days. Looks like Cardiff is about to be switched / has done already. no more Ess Pedwar Ec on terrestrial


      Kilvey Hill The Swansea area Complete

      Preseli south west Wales Complete

      Carmel Parts of south and central Wales Complete

      Llanddona North west Wales Complete

      Moel y Parc North east Wales Complete

      Long Mountain Parts of east and central Wales Complete

      Blaenplwyf Parts of west and central Wales Complete

      Wenvoe Cardiff, Newport and south east Wales 3 March 2010

  3. Anonymous Coward


    There are more people who speak Klingon than Welsh but you don't see THEM demanding their own programming do you?

    Hab SoSlI' Quch!

    1. Robert Ramsay

      Activate the bartender...

      I'm sure that if the Klingon speakers did demand their own programs, the programme makers would give in immediately after one of them was sliced up with a Bat'Leth...

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Fact

      The difference is that people who speak Welsh were almost all either born there or lived there at some point and bothered to "pay lip service" to the community they found themselves in, whereas people who speak Klingon certainly weren't born there and frankly need to spend a LOT more time in their community.

      No, the real story here is that a public service broadcaster has fulfilled their remit but are about to get set upon by people in the pocket of sociopaths like Rupert Murdoch who want to see the whole ethos of PSB dead and buried.

      1. Marvin the Martian


        What?! No! Being fluent in Klingon means self-selecting you out of the regular community, to mutual gain.

        It's like the open prison system called academia (where people work on average 59h/week, since decades), 'coz you wouldn't want them running amok in the real world, would you?

  4. Andrew James


    There's about 3 million people in Wales. Only about half of them speak welsh... if that (taking into account that some people will say they do even if their welsh is the equivalent to my spanish - dos thervethath por favor... grathiath).

    The vast majority of that 1.5million people will also speak english, and are probably quite partial to a bit of eastenders or coronation just like the rest of the evening tv viewing public.

    Welsh is a minority language but it is right that its represented in the broadcasting.

    Incidentally, i'm english, living in wales. My wife is welsh, and my daughter has been born in wales. My 2 year old daughter can now count to ten in english and in welsh ... i can only count to 5 in welsh. Does this make her IQ bigger than mine?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Yes, if you can't count to 5 in english as well. :-)

      even if you can, she's still got 5 in both lanuages on you ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward


      yes, if you can only count to 5 in welsh.

      start to learn the english 1-5 then progress onto the 6-10 in both ;-)

      1. Andrew James

        one two three four five... erm.

        Nope. Completely stumped at five. No wonder i'm a management accountant lol.

        ps. The welsh for 5 is pimp (or at least thats how its pronounced). Makes me smirk every time my little girl says it.

        1. Anonymous Bastard

          What do you call a Welshman with five sheep?


        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @one two three four five... erm

          Spelled "pump", but pronounced "pimp". And if that makes you smirk, you'd love the Welsh for "first".

          1. Andrew James


            I'm guessing the second letter is pronounced as a U? *giggle*

            so, rough pronunciation in yorkshire dialect of welsh numbers... eeen die tree pedwarr pimp.

            There you go mr englishman living in france watching welsh tv with subtitles and being able to count to 5 in a few languages, you can add welsh to your list.

            ine vie dry fear fumf ... have some german too.

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Pobol y Cym

      [please read to the final paragraph!]

      I watch "Pobol y Cym" from time to time (not exactly a committed viewer). Makes an interesting change from cack like Hollyoaks and... I'm sorry... what is the attraction with EastEnders/Coronation Street? Some days it is like a bad comedy, other days it is so depressing that sticking pins into your eyeballs must surely be a more interesting way to pass the hours.

      BTW, for the purposes of statistics, that would make me a Brit living in France watching Welsh TV with subtitles.

      Oh, and I can count to five in English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. I would like to add Russian but I seem to have a mental block on getting the words in the right order. Welsh? Sadly no, but if you hit "Reply to this post..." :-)

      [the final paragraph - finally making a point <grin>]

      I think, however, something very important should be bourne in mind. S4C, catering to a *small* number of viewers (for zero on a sample is not necessarily zero in reality) and costing £100m is not as bad as it might seem considering the government has just been found to spend £1.3m on an ID card scheme nobody wants. Oh? That's only a hundredth? Okay, here's the slammer - the NHS IT scheme (currently in the order of £12.7bn (yes, BILLION)) is going to have some drastic cutbacks to shave off around £600m. Shall we start on next?

      Or, in terms of figures:

      Chris Moyles (2009): £630,000 pa

      Terry Wogan (2009): £800,000 pa

      Dr. Who/Torchwood: £10,000,000 (per season, approx.)

      S4C: £100,000,000 pa?

      Lord Ashcroft owes: £100,000,000 (unpaid tax, says Vince Cable)

      Deprived pupil Fail: £249,000,000 (on educating deprived, things now may be _worse_)

      Matalan dividend: £250,000,000 (owner will pay self from loan capital!)

      RBS bonus: £1,600,000,000 (for £3.6bn loss)

      National debt: £178,000,000,000

      2009 govt spending: £661,000,000,000 (count those zeroes)

      S4C should look to reducing the costs, drop some programmes that don't perform, but in the scale of government spending, it is daft to jump on "underperforming" media (S4C, Radio6...) that some people actually enjoy, while pissing away money on ill-conceived online presences, chasing terrorist threats that don't exist, and all of the other news stories that have us scratching our heads and asking "couldn't they see this had FAIL written all over it?".

      BTW, figures from ElReg, national papers websites via Google, and

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Do I smell burning holiday cottages again?

  6. David Webb


    If I remember correctly the actual figure isn't 0, it's just classed as 0 because not enough people watched it? They had the same thing with 5 where 0 people were watching, only people were watching just under a certain threshold for it to actually count as a figure.

  7. Helena Handcart

    @ Robert Ramsay

    You forget a few important details: 1) Klingons aren't real. 2) Everyone who pretends to be a Klingon looks like a knob and can't fight for toffee: ad nerdiam

  8. McBread
    Dead Vulture


    Can I request that you correct the title to "200 Welsh TV shows'had less than the statistical significant 1000 viewer cutoff limit".

    At least the Telegraph put in that fact in to their article. Which I might add you haven't linked to, something which is poor etiquette to both the reader and the source.

    And neither of you linked to the original story, which happens to be the article with the highest quality of journalism.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I agree with Anne

    Anne Robinson rules!!!

    Its about the only thing I ever agreed with her about.

  10. Andrew Oakley

    Shropshire - disputed territory

    "Wales' Welsh-speaking community, and apparently a number of English speakers who have maladjusted TV aerials." - or English Welsh speakers from Oswestry and other parts of Shropshire where Welsh is the language of choice in the home.

  11. Justa

    S4C HD

    It's really going to hit the fan when people realise they're going to get S4C HD instead of C4 HD on Freeview. Most Welsh people only speak English and have got used to being able to watch C4 on digital TV. When the Freeview HD advertising starts and they realise they're going to get (effectivly) one less channel than everyone else it'll get interesting.

  12. Scott A. Brown


    Although I'm a non-Welsh speaking Englishman, I was Sgorio on a regular basis (with subtitles for the punditry). I'll be sad to see it go, if it does.

    I bet S4C gets more viewers than BBC Alba. Also, S4C has some great continuity graphics, very stylish compared to most channel's offerings.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      BBC Alba

      But BBC Alba is Scottish, and the Tories and especially Labour wouldn't want to upset the scots would they?

  13. NogginTheNog

    Modern multi-lingualism?

    I watched a welsh language chat show a while back whilst visit a relative who now lives in North Wales (we're both English). I was fascinated by the totally natural way the presenters and interviewees were switching between welsh and english languages, often mid-sentence. It mightily impressed (sadly mono-lingual) me!

    So perhaps the low viewing figures really just reflect the fact that modern welsh speakers are perfectly comfortable in both languages, and just watch whatever they deem is 'good'?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That'll annoy the only 3 people in the world who actually speak Welsh.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a joke

    Having the pleasure of being brought up in Wales by childhood was blighted by having to watch S4C instead of Channel 4. Now I just have the pleasure of seeing how much of my hard earned money gets wasted on Bilingual translations/Welsh Assembly/Keeping the oddball nationalists happy. £100 million and the rest!

  16. Mike Shepherd

    @Helena Handcart

    "Everyone who pretends to be a Klingon looks like a knob and can't fight for toffee..."


  17. Oldgoat
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Digital important in wales

    Actually here in the wilds of Lampeter we've only had digital for years 'cos the terrestrial signal was rubbish, so a satellite dish was the only way to go, same for the interweb thingy as BT don't venture out here (broadband taxes notwithstanding.) Back when we were the first household with a dish, neighbours would come over to share the wonder when they got tired of viewing snow on their screens as well as out of their windows.

    Yes we watch S4C, but no-one's ever bothered to ask us. 'tis the best channel in the UK for us yokels with more rural coverage than any other channel. Mind you I suspect us rural types are now a smaller minority than genuine Welsh speakers.

    Paris 'cos she enjoys a roll in the hay ...

  18. ThreadGuy

    I think this says it all

    Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i'w gyfieithu.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Would the sample just happen to consist mostly of people living in Cardiff? Or at least urban areas. Real hardcore Welsh speakers tend to live in rural areas or at least small towns.

    The problem with these sorts of viewing figures is that the volunteers for the sample group tend to be obsessive TV watchers. The sort of idiots who watch soaps and reality TV. The chance of them giving accurate viewing figures are virtually zero.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love Welsh yokels on TV

    I speak not a word of Welsh but hugely enjoyed the spectacle of Fferm Ffactor, S4C on Sky. It's a programme so bizarre and low-budget in concept and execution that it benefits tremendously from being broadcast in a language hardly anyone speaks. Far from being provincial pursuits of gap-toothed Welsh yokels, the likes of competitive log-sawing and tractor trailer loading are shown to have a universal appeal which is only enhanced by commentary in their native language. I only wish that more of the populist televisual drivel we pay to despise were broadcast in Welsh. I for one would di a lot happier.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Frankly, I'm amazed ...

    ... that there are 10,000 people in Wales actually capable of understanding enough welsh to follow a TV programme in the language. The welsh language is a luxury that the country (principality) can ill afford in these straitened financial times, and toys like S4C should be shut down "until such time as some else has rebuilt the UK economy to the point where they can be afforded again".

    Anonymous, as I live in Wales and there are so many flammable things around here.

    1. The Indomitable Gall


      "The welsh language is a luxury that the country ... can ill afford in these straitened financial times"

      I would like to extend this argument to English. The grammatical irregularities, lunatic spelling system and strangulated pronunciation make it a massively inefficient medium of communication, and a luxury we can ill afford. Switching to Esperanto would allow us to get our kids out of school and into the workhouse by the age of 12.

      In these straitened financial times, these are the sorts of measures we must take....

  22. Rhod
    Paris Hilton

    Statistical significance?

    I'd question the significance of Barb's figures both in general and specifically in this case. An awful lot of the Welsh speaking community reside in the more rural North, Mid and West Wales. Barb, when they do get information from these areas get it primarily from English speaking homes as they are an English speaking organization. This inevitably biases the data against Welsh speakers. Given that they only poll around 5100 homes for the whole of the UK it is easy for them to miss a significant tranch of viewers.

    Paris, because she's BARBie.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Err... In 2004 less than 30 people spoke Klingon (has only risen from about 12 in 10 years). Over 3/4 million speak Welsh and a lot more know basic conversational.

    Oh I see, the troll icon, yes that icon does mean you're only 6 years old.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits

      Hope you're including the Pategonian lot in that stat

  24. John Savard

    Selection Effect?

    Perhaps the elderly Welsh television viewers whose English was not that good, and who were avid viewers of Welsh-language television fare... failed to be reached by those who were looking for households to survey?

    After all, if you knock on the door, and say that you would like the household to take part in a survey, and the resident can't understand a word you're saying... it's unlikely you'll make the arrangements for them to join the survey.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    if they are going to kill Welsh

    Then they will have to Kill all other languages as well - we cannot be unfair can we?

    and they could cap MP expenses and save far more...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apologies to the Welsh, but it's time to get real


    Set against the world as it stands and the UK in particular, the Welsh language is an irrelevant distraction.

    I think we'd *all* be better off learning Mandarin Chinese; perhaps the BBC could help us do that instead.

  27. alan lovedog

    speaking as a welsh person...

    the idea that the welsh speak welsh is pretty much a myth.

    first time i ever encountered it was as a 6 year old - a teacher arrived at our school and announced that we would be learning ' our ' language.

    even then i thought it curious that it could be my language when i'd never heard a word of it.

    language is a means of communication - the world needs less languages, not more.

    1. The Indomitable Gall


      So what you're saying is "I am Welsh, I don't speak Welsh, therefore Welsh people don't speak Welsh?" I think you'll find that some actually do. No-one in the UK believes all Welsh people speak Welsh.

      And as for less languages...

      "Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation."

  28. Andrew James


    Eastenders with an overdub of welsh. That'd be fantastic. And you could watch the same episode in english first and use it as an educational tool to help you learn welsh.

This topic is closed for new posts.