January 1, 2013 14:05

BBC Radio Cymru forced to play English-language music after royalty dispute

Welsh-language station has lost rights to more than 30,000 Welsh songs

BBC Radio Cymru forced to play English-language music after royalty dispute
Welsh-language station BBC Radio Cymru has been forced to broadcast English-speaking music after a dispute over royalty payments.

Talks between the BBC and Eos, the body representing more than 300 Welsh-speaking artists, have stalled, and from New Year's Day Radio Cymru no longer has the right to play more than 30,000 songs.

The station has subsequently reduced its airtime and its output will include more English-language songs. Songs by some Welsh pop artists - those who didn't break away from the Performing Rights Society (PRS) to form their own agency - will not be affected.

In December, more than 450 Welsh musicians demanded their music was withdrawn from the station, effectively going on strike. Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys backed their action.

The BBC said. "It is disappointing that Radio Cymru programming will be now be affected by the dispute and we will obviously do everything possible to minimise the impact on the daily service we provide to thousands of listeners across Wales."

Discussions between the BBC and Eos are expected to continue as both sides try to find a solution. Under the new schedule, daily output on Radio Cymru will be reduced by two hours and a number of English language and international artists will be broadcast.

Sian Gwynedd, head of Welsh language programmes and services at BBC Cymru Wales, said: "While Welsh language music will continue to be the bedrock of our output, the current dispute will prevent us from playing most of our usual repertoire. This will clearly have a noticeable impact on the service we can deliver, but I would like to emphasise to our listeners that we are doing everything possible to protect the quality of our programming despite the difficult circumstances."

The BBC Trust, which oversees the BBC, has warned the dispute risked damaging an "essential service" for listeners. "I am profoundly worried at the harm any substantial change may cause for our audience," said the BBC National Trustee for Wales, Elan Closs Stephens.

"I understand the financial pressure on Welsh musicians but there are also huge financial pressures on the BBC, too, like all public bodies. Nobody wins from this action, least of all the Radio Cymru audience. I would urge you to continue in your efforts to ensure that this matter can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion."

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