Cyfrwng Award 2008: Owen Edwards
The 2008 Cyfrwng Award was presented to Owen Edwards, the first Director of Sianel Pedwar Cymru (S4C). He was honoured for his vast contribution to the development of the Welsh language media in Wales.
The award was presented to Owen Edwards in an emotional ceremony by his friend Alwyn Roberts, former Chair of the BBC’s Broadcasting Council for Wales and one of the first members of the S4C Authority. The ceremony was held in the DRWM auditorium at the National Library with the celebrations continuing at the Conference Dinner in the Council Chamber.
Owen Edwards’ career in the media started when he became a presenter on the Welsh programme Dewch i Mewn produced by the ITV company Granada. After three years working for the company from Manchester, he received an invitation in 1961 to travel to Cardiff to present the BBC’s Welsh language daily news programme, Heddiw. He remained with the programme until 1966, presenting the news and conversing daily with the people of Wales.
Following his period in front of the camera, Owen Edwards influenced the development of the Welsh language media from behind the scenes, first as Programme Organiser and then as Head of Programmes at the BBC. He was appointed Controller of BBC Wales in 1974 and under his leadership the Welsh and English language services were expanded with the launch of Radio Cymru and Radio Wales.
Then in 1981, following the Conservatives’ infamous U-turn, Wales saw the establishment of a new Welsh language television channel, and, according to Alwyn Roberts, Owen Edwards was the natural choice for the role of Director of S4C. His appointment provided the necessary credibility for the new channel and his innate ability for enabling others to succeed was key to the success of the channel. Owen Edwards was head of the channel until his retirement in 1989.
The son of Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards, the founder of the Urdd, and the grandson of the historian, author and publisher O.M. Edwards – both noted and celebrated Welshmen – Alwyn Roberts was eager to stress that the award was presented in recognition of an individual’s achievements, not a family’s. He noted that the three men, in their own way, had all contributed to the development of the Welsh language but that Owen Edwards’ unique achievement was that he had been instrumental in turning a medium which was considered a threat to the language into a means of enriching and deepening its influence.