24 hour fast to demand broadcasting powers for Wales

Over a dozen campaigners have started fasting today (Tuesday, 2nd January) as part of a campaign to devolving control over broadcasting to Wales. 

The news comes as the report of an independent review of S4C is to be released. It is due to consider, among other issues, whether the responsibility for S4C from Westminster should be devolved to the Assembly. A petition with over a thousand names calling for powers to be moved from London to Cardiff was presented during the Review. In 2013, the Silk Commission - a cross party review commissioned by the British Government - concluded that control over the British Government's financial contribution to S4C should be transferred to the Welsh Government. 

At present, over fifty people are refusing to pay for their TV licence as part of Cymdeithas yr Iaith's campaign to devolve broadcasting. 

Among the group of 14 campaigners who will not be eating for a 24-hour period is Elfed Wyn Jones, a 20-year-old farmer from Trawsfynydd. He explained the purpose of the action saying: 

"The campaign has gained momentum and I can promise that I and others will intensify the campaign over the next few months if the Government in London does not respond positively. Given the absence of  Welsh on commercial radio, local television, and the serious cuts to S4C and lack of Welsh content in the media, it is clear that London does not control the media for the benefit of the people of Wales. Decisions on the media in Wales need to be made by people of Wales. The vast majority of the people of Wales are in favour of that and there is a cross-party consensus for devolving some responsibility. It is time to devolve power over broadcasting, not only for the benefit of the Welsh language, but for the wider benefit of Welsh democracy. " 

According to the results of the last year's YouGov survey, 52% of people support moving the responsibility over media to the hands of the Assembly while only 27% want politicians in Westminster to retain the power. Omitting the dont-knows, 65% were in favour of devolution and 35% against devolving powers over broadcasting to Wales. 

Aled Powell, a father of two living in Wrexham, who is fasting and chairs Cymdeithas yr Iaith's Digital Campaigns group added: 

"Every-day people from all over the country are beginning to take a stance against a system that deprives people of media which reflects their lives and aspirations. A great deal of the media ignore the Welsh language and Welsh democracy. The BBC is trying to swallow S4C up and have helped the Conservative Government make cuts to our only Welsh language television channel. There will be no fair play for the Welsh language or Wales if broadcasting continues to be managed by London. "  

"It is also clear that there is a significant democratic deficit in Wales: British broadcasters confuse people by reporting on decisions that affect England alone. Now is the time to ensure that we in Wales control our media for the benefit of the language and all the communities of Wales. "