S4C Authority chairman John Walter Jones has taken early retirement from his post just a week after he denied reports that he had resigned.
The news comes towards the end of a tumultuous year for the Welsh language broadcaster which is facing budget cuts, greater integration with the BBC and a reorganisation of the executive and authority structures following the resignation of chief executive Iona Jones.
Last week Mr Jones told S4C staff that he would retire at the end of March after the broadcaster announced he was leaving his post with immediate effect.
In the first public comment about the situation since the authority announced his resignation two weeks ago Mr. Jones said he wished to end the confusion surrounding his position at S4C. Writing to the culture secretary he said:
“The situation pertaining at S4C cannot be allowed to continue.
“The word confusion is repeatedly applied for whatever reason, by some, to my decision to retire.
“I have now come to the conclusion that my suggestion last week that I would stand aside now in order to make easier any decision by you regarding the future as S4C is something that I wish to act upon.
“I will therefore retire as Chair of the Authority with immediate effect.”
Following news of his resignation Alun Cairns MP called on other members of the S4C authority to resign:
“I’m very sorry that the S4C Authority have forced the chairman out, and now look to the remainder of the authority to do the honourable thing and follow suit.
“It’s clear to me that the established members of the authority who have been there for some time are the root cause of the problem.”
Harsh words from the Welsh Conservatives’ spokesperson for heritage and culture.
In the meantime Rheon Tomos will be responsible for leading the authority as vice chairman until a new chairman is appointed.
But what will be next for the Welsh language broadcaster?
In his letter of resignation, Mr Jones said:
“The S4C Authority must be unquestionably united and single minded in its quest for an answer to the challenges that face the channel.
“Anything other than unanimity of approach can but be destabilising and result in an intolerable situation of instability for the dedicated staff at S4C and for the programme suppliers.
“All involved should now be concentrating on progressing meaningful negotiations with the BBC Trust and DCMS to ensure a workable model that guarantees S4C’s independence and on creating a stable working relationship with the independent production sector.”
The question now is will we see further resignations or will the board now unite? And who is in line for the ‘top job’?
With 25% cuts in the pipeline, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport reducing its grant by 94% over the next five years as the BBC takes over part of S4Cs funding, whoever takes on the role of authority chair has one thing at least they can rely on. It’s going to be a tough job.