CORNWALL: LICENCE PROTEST ENDS
A 24 hour protest by the Kernow branch of the League ended on Sunday morning (22nd August) outside of the BBC Radio Cornwall studio in Truro. The Assistant General Secretary (AGS) of the League, Tony Leamon, reports below on what was a hugely successful protest by the branch.
“Branch Secretary Mike Chappell started his protest at 10 am on Saturday (21st August) to highlight the BBC’s perceived lack of awareness of Cornwall’s distinct Celtic identity. As part of Mr Chappell’s demonstration he tore up his BBC TV licence and told supporters that he would not be paying his BBC fee until the Corporation changed its colonialist minded and corporate attitude in Cornwall.
“In his address Mr Chappell said that `the BBC is not fit for purpose for the people of Cornwall’ and accused the Corporation of either completely ignoring or only paying lip service to a variety of factors that make Cornwall unique and as distinct as the other Celtic nations. In addition to his own licence, Mr Chappell also ripped up a number of other licence’s that had been sent to him by supporters in Cornwall who said that they would be following his suit in protest. Finally Mr Chappell said that he invited the BBC to prosecute him for not paying his licence and added that he would be prepared to go to court to argue his case further.
Supporters were asked to phone the BBC Radio Cornwall studio’s to show their support for the stance that Mr Chappell and the branch was taking against the BBC by protesting, but many reported that the BBC simply hung up on them. The branch was informed that people had called the BBC from as far away as Australia and the USA. One early caller asked why the radio station was not reporting the protest happening outside its own front entrance and were told that `that is not news’.
“Nevertheless the BBC employed extra security for the weekend and at one point Mr Chappell said that he was surrounded by BBC security guards. Mr Chappell said that he was also contacted by the police before the protest, because they wanted to know why they had not been informed of his intentions. Mr Chappell explained that he was under no obligation, according to the law, to contact the police for what he was planning, but was warned by one officer that if he as much as `threw a piece of litter on the floor he would be arrested’. During the 24 hour protest updates were available on the Celtic League Twitter and Facebook sites and a film of part of Mr Chappell speech has been placed on the Celtic League TV website.
“The League’s General Secretary (GS), Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, was also at the protest to offer his support and called the BBC on Sunday morning (22nd August) following the protest to ask for a comment. However the BBC Cornwall press office said that a statement from the BBC would not be ready until Monday morning. Mr Tal-e-bot said that he had the “greatest respect” for Mr Chappell’s protest, adding:
`”The BBC Trust has recently sponsored a report that says that coverage of the devolved nations has improved on its news network, since the damning King Report a couple of years ago. However Cornwall has always been neglected and coverage of this particular Celtic country on the BBC is as bad now as it has always been. Moreover, the BBC in Cornwall maintains its colonialist attitude and is happy to forward the assimilation process at every opportunity.”‘
“Over the weekend, a past BBC Radio Cornwall presenter contacted Mr Chappell and agreed to appear on the Kernow Branch radio show, `One and All’, to answer questions about her employment with the BBC. Mr Chappell was also visited during his protest by almost 70 people over the 24 hours, including many non league members. Over £100 was also raised during the protest for the homeless charity ‘Shelter’ though monetary donations.
“On Saturday members and supporters of the League also demonstrated for an hour outside the BBC studios in solidarity with the Kernow Branch protest in Wrecsam/Wrexham, north east Wales.”
(Tony Leamon remained with Mike Chappell for most of the duration of the protest)
J B Moffatt (Mr)
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