S4C: First 100 refuse to pay TV licence

IssueMarch 2011
News by Kelvin Mason

Within four days of a campaign launch, over a hundred people have signed up to withhold their television licence fee in protest over threats to the Welsh language channel S4C. Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) are campaigning for the UK government to guarantee independence and sufficient funding for the channel.

Amongst those who have said they won’t be paying the tax that funds the BBC are the singers Dafydd Iwan, Gai Toms and Bryn Fôn and the academic Dr Simon Brooks. Bethan Williams, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, said: “The future of our only Welsh language TV channel hangs in the balance. It faces cuts of over 40% in real terms; a takeover by the BBC; and puts power in the hands of Westminster ministers to get rid of S4C completely. It’s a critical situation; that’s why we are pleased that so many people have started to stop paying the TV licence. The Government is actually saving 94% of the money they used to pay to the channel, a completely unfair cut.”

“This is a campaign we can win, and we’re confident because of the rising public support for the need for a strong future for the world’s only Welsh language TV channel. We now know from Thatcher’s cabinet papers that Gwynfor Evans’ stance was critical in changing the government’s mind in the late 1970s, the people who are refusing to pay their TV licence today are following in the same tradition of peaceful direct action campaigning.”

The campaign group will hold a series of public meetings across Wales from January until March entitled “S4C a’r Dyfodol” (“S4C and the Future”) to raise awareness of the threats to the channel and discuss the way forward.

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