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Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2007, 16:58 GMT
S4C questioned over Big Brother
Shilpa Shetty
Shilpa Shetty remained in the house after winning viewers' votes
The Commission for Racial Equality has written to Welsh-language broadcaster S4C over its screening of Celebrity Big Brother in the wake of the racism row.

The channel screens many of Channel 4's programmes in Wales as part of its English-language output.

Channel 4 has been criticised for not doing more to halt clashes between housemates and some want the show axed.

The CRE has asked for reassurances that Channel 4 content meets S4C's commitments to racial equality.

S4C said members of the S4C authority would discuss their response at their next meeting on 15 February.

Jade Goody on Big Brother
Jade Goody received 82% of the total votes in Friday's eviction

Reality show housemate Jade Goody's on-screen disputes with Indian actress Shetty has sparked wide-spread criticism.

Ms Goody, who was evicted from the house on Friday, later apologised and admitted making racist comments but denied she was a racist.

Media watchdog Ofcom said it had received about 42,000 complaints about the programme.

The programme is also screened on Welsh-language channel S4C, which has broadcast much of Channel 4's English-language output on its analogue service since it was set up in 1982.

The CRE in Wales has now written to S4C expressing its concerns over Celebrity Big Brother.

It is clear that public service broadcasters need to be seen to be taking action over what happened
Aled Edwards, commissioner CRE in Wales

The letter, signed by Aled Edwards, commissioner of the CRE in Wales, said: "You will be aware, I know, of the extensive public concern over the content of the Big Brother programme over the last week.

"It is clear that public service broadcasters need to be seen to be taking action over what happened.

"In the case of S4C, my understanding is that the programme is simply transmitted on.

"I would be grateful if you could assure me that you will be requiring Channel 4 to ensure that any future C4 materials broadcast on S4C will meet your commitments to race equality as outlined in your race equality scheme.

"A public statement to this effect would help considerably in restoring confidence in British broadcasting on the part of wide sections of the public in Wales."

Meanwhile, the Welsh equalities minister Jane Hutt called on S4C to justify its decision to broadcast Big Brother.

Ms Hutt said that S4C should not assume that it did not have editorial responsibility for programmes re-broadcast from C4 and she said the station needed to give a "strong explanation" to viewers for its decision to broadcast Big Brother.

S4C said it did not have any editorial control over its English-language output taken from Channel 4.

It added that it would cease to broadcast English-language programmes when the analogue TV signal is extinguished in Wales, beginning in 2009.

A spokesman for S4C said: "Members of the S4C Authority will discuss their response to the letter from the Commission for Racial Equality at their next meeting on February 15th."

The spokesman added: "The discussion about Celebrity Big Brother has raised a number of difficult issues for S4C, because we have a duty to broadcast Channel 4's programmes without any editorial input or control.

"The S4C authority has a policy on racial equality which we operate.

"Meanwhile, the chairman of the S4C Authority intends sending the letter from the CRE to Channel 4 chairman, Luke Johnson. The chairman is also in contact with senior members of S4C's staff.

"S4C's viewers' hotline received 36 calls about Celebrity Big Brother - the vast majority of which were complaints.

"S4C has been in contact with Ofcom and the regulator confirmed that it was happy with S4C's policy of referring complaints about the programme's contents on to Channel Four."

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