Jill Evans in court over S4C

'A chance to say thanks', that's how S4C campaigners have described Euro MP Jill Evans court appearance in Pontypridd today (Friday, 4th November) over her refusal to pay the TV licence.

Since Autumn last year, over 150 campaigners, including singer Bryn Bryn Fôn and the Reverend Guto Prys ap Gwynfor, stated their intention to refuse to pay the TV licence.

The actions of Jill Evans and others were part of the campaign against 94% cuts to Welsh TV channel S4C and plans to merge it with the BBC.

Speaking ahead of her court appearance, Jill Evans MEP said:

"The recent agreement between the BBC and S4C means there is funding certainty for the channel for the near future, as well as a degree of editorial independence, and for that reason I have decided I will once again pay my licence fee. The campaign has made a difference.

"The Westminster Government's hasty decision threatened the very existence of S4C and was an attack on the Welsh language itself. That's why I refused to pay my television licence as part of the campaign. As it is, S4C will face a cut every year until 2017 and there was no consultation with the Welsh Government or the people of Wales. It was as if devolution never happened.

"The campaign to secure good quality Welsh and English language broadcasting in Wales will continue and central to that is the demand to devolve broadcasting responsibilities to Wales."

Last Saturday, campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg announced they would be asking supporters to start paying their TV licence again, although a number will still appear in front of magistrates over the next few weeks.

Speaking ahead of the court case, Bethan Williams, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg said:

"I'd like to thank Jill and the tens of thousands who are supporting our campaign to secure a future for our only Welsh language TV channel. The Welsh language is a unique treasure of our country, and its presence in the media is vital if the language is to survive and prosper. We're very thankful to all those who are part of our campaign to refuse to pay the TV licence fee, we hope future generations will recognise their contribution to the future of the language. It's clear that their actions have made a difference, some type of future has been secured for S4C thanks to them and many others.

"As our campaign continues, we will be calling for the devolution of broadcasting to Wales - and we will be meeting politicians next Tuesday to lobby them. The only way to prevent unwise decisions over broadcasting in the future is to ensure that politicians in Wales are responsible for these matters."

Adam Jones, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg's broadcasting spokesperson added:

"Our campaign will continue to give a chance for raise their voice as the Government and the BBC conspire and decide on the future of S4C. We'll continue to work with the unions to prevent the cuts which are undermining job opportunities for young people, the language and our economy. From the start, the plans have ignored the people of Wales' views and the latest agreeement between the BBC and S4C is completely undemocratic as it happened behind closed doors without any consultation. We call on the magistrates in Jill Evans' court case to acknowledge the undemocratic situation."