Bad news for the many fine young Welsh artists currently singing lyrics in their own language, such as Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog (above). A BBC-wide directive has just been issued with immediate effect, stating that no more Welsh Language music can be played on air until further notice:

This e-mail is being widely circulated across the BBC in order to ensure that the BBC does not infringe the copyright in specific musical works (i.e songs) for which we will not have the rights after 31st December 2012. Please cascade this e-mail to your teams and any other colleagues who need to be aware of it.

Music composers writing in the Welsh language and a number of the publishers of these songs have withdrawn from the PRS. This means that the BBC does not have permission to use this material under the blanket license with PRS and it has not been possible for the BBC to reach an agreement on licence terms with the new Welsh-based collecting (EOS) which will control these rights from 1st January 2013.

Any use of the repertoire concerned on BBC Services after 1st January 2013  may result in  legal action for an unauthorised use as a breach of copyright.  The BBC is seeking to clarify with PRS and EOS precisely which musical works will be controlled by EOS but this information is not yet available to us.

Pragmatically therefore, all songs in the Welsh language should be withdrawn from BBC use with  with effect from 1st January 2013.  In the event that the use of a specific Welsh-language song is considered  editorially essential and there is no recognisable alternative the Music Copyright team will check in specific individual cases (as far as possible) whether rights have withdrawn.

Please cascade this message as necessary

Head of Copyright Contracting
Talent & Rights Negotiation Group
BBC Vision Operations.
Room 3400 White City
201 Wood Lane
London. W12 7TS

Personally I’m just passing on what we’ve been told. I know nothing of the discussions between the BBC, EOS and PRS that have led to this situation, but it does seem a crying shame that (in the short term at least) Welsh composers and musicians are being damaged by the fallout.  Will this embargo also apply, to bands with Welsh names and Welsh song titles who make purely instrumental music? For instance, the exellent North Wales surf guitar combo Y Niwl:

Tom Robinson

London-based broadcaster & songwriter, born 1950. His best known songs are 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby; he has also co-written songs with Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Dan Hartman and Manu Katché. Read More...


  1. K-RODD

    This could only happen in Wales,unbelievable!!

  2. bocscymru

    On the subject of Y Niwl, will Football Focus now have to change its theme tune?

  3. sharon morgan

    This is a dispute between the BBC and EOS, not between PRS and EOS. The BBC in Londopn are showing a great lack of respect for Welsh language culture by not agreeing to pay the musicians a decent copyright fee.

  4. Phil

    As Sharon says, the article is incorrect – it’s a dispute between the BBC (Radio Cymru in the main) and EOS.

    @ K Rodd. Why could it only happen in Wales? An odd comment. Google ‘copyright dispute’ and you’ll find that, actually, it happens just about everywhere !

  5. Steve

    This is about Welsh Language culture fighting for fair play, and proper support.
    Frankly, the risible amount paid to artists under the old regime is so paltry (just £110K between 300 artists for a whole year’s airplay!) that I don’t expect any of the artist will be ‘damaged’ very badly by the embargo.

  6. Randal Isaac

    Mae’n rhaid ennill yr achos hwn er mwyn dyfodol yr Iaith Gymraeg a cherddoriaeth yng Nghymru. Mae creadigrwydd ein beirdd a’n cerddorion yn y fantol.

  7. Tom

    Translation of Randal Isaac’s comment: (EOS) must win this case so that the future of the Welsh language and music in Wales. The creativity of our poets and musicians at stake.

  8. june Campbell-Davies

    Music is Music – composers and singer song writers are the same no matter what language and culture they appeal to.
    English does not rule the Waves!

    Does this apply to Scottish – Gaelic Folk music Scene?
    British Asian music/Film scene?

  9. Rex

    Maybe this will shake the suits at Radio Cymru out of their complacency and force them to search out some fresh talent. More power to Eos: the PRS has basically defæcated on Welsh composers and performers by reducing the status of Radio Cymru from a national station to regional (on a par with Radio Shropshire, for example), conveniently forgetting that Wales is a country with its own government, not a county in the west of England

  10. K-RODD

    @ Phil,Freshonthenet is about the only place I’ve come across that supports new/unsigned bands.With a little help from FOTN,(if your music is good enough)you can actually get heard on the BBC,to a band like mine this is massive.
    Now some faceless organisation (whom I’ve never heard of)has made it even more difficult for Welsh artists to get heard.What a heap of bullshit!

  11. Eos is representing 297 PRS members, 34 publishing companies and over a 1000 other composers who are not PRS members. All in all, this represents around 30,000 works,( i.e. songs in Welsh and English, and some other languages and instrumental tracks). They have withdrawn broadcast rights only from PRS and are negotiating a new blanket deal centrally with the BBC for all of the BBC’s radio and television services (excluding on-line). PRS’s distribution policy meant that tracks played on Radio Cymru (the main platform for these works) only paid 1/12 of the rate of say The Asian Network (even though the audience was only double). There were many other inconsistencies Basically the comfortable relationship between the BBC and PRS in London, where a ‘bulk buy’ blanket is negotiated, does not work for minority music, and so Eos is fighting for a better commercial rate for minority music.

  12. Herbert

    BBC & PRS seem to want everything done through the ‘Anglo-American’ framework. There are many frameworks of thinking and listening to music… if Bernie Taupin was Welsh, and had Radio Cymru as the only outlet for hiw work, I’d imagine him standing up for this just cause. It’s not ‘bullshit’ as someone suggests, it’s a David and Goliath situation. I support David! Good luck!

  13. K-RODD

    I can appreciate all the EOS views that are obviously represented by their employees on this forum.But my view is that its all bullshit,musicians just want to make music and get it heard.All you ‘suits’ are interested in is the money.Fucking businessmen,its always about the money.

  14. Rhys

    Eos does not have any emplyees, it is a not for profit distribution company, and all its members are either musicians, composers or publishers, whose livelihood has been drastically affected by the cuts imposed by PRS on the rate paid on Radio Cymru airplay. The directors are similarly musicians, composers or publishers and are unpaid. Attempts to reverse the PRS cuts have been ongoing for the last 5 years, but to no avail, which left welsh language composers and publishers with no option but to go it alone. Mewn undod mae nerth.

  15. ££C Radio Cymru

    Amateur musicians might only be interested in ‘making music and getting it heard’, K – Rodd, but some of us are professional musicians, and plough income derived from airplay, back into recording, promoting and releasing new music

  16. penbwl

    It’s a shame that the BBC had not taken Eos seriously until it was too late.
    Why does it take a crisis for men in suits to sit down and talk?
    Let’s hope a deal is struck soon that will support Welsh creativity and culture. It’s obvious from tuning in to Radio Cymru that it’s been a tough few days for them, but I do believe that if resolved fairly and before too much damage is done to the listenership, this will benefit not only the musicians but also the station – as well as the music industry in Wales as a whole.
    Good luck Eos!

  17. jago

    Yes k-rodd your view is just bullshit!

  18. K-RODD

    Yes Jago,but nevertheless its MY view.And as for you ‘Pro’ musicians who plough your income back into recording,what do you think us amateurs do?But there you go,the ‘Tafia’ at their best,pretending to represent all music in Wales.When quite patently its just the ‘Pros’ who matter,thanks from all the amateurs x.

  19. Randolph

    Whatever you think about this particular situation, it will not change the fact that within the next few years we will see that all recorded music will be virtually free and music makers will gain most of their income from live performance only. This happens in spain for example within their flamenco folk structure. Music over there is part of all aspects of their lives and is freely available and integrated within its culture, its as free and accessable as air. I am glad we are turning our backs on an economy based on overpaid superstars and idolism and we are giving music back to the people.I can now produce music and people can hear it.I probably produce more in my spare time (for the love of it) than ‘bono’ ’50 cent’ and ‘bowie’ put together do nowadays . years ago i had to bang on every door only to told that for whatever reason it did not fit some multi-million pound industry idea of what music should be.The bbc are doing a great job especially with the ‘introducing’ structure to rebalance things ready for the paradigm shift. letting everyone have a chance to be heard and making music a commodity that is free and uncontrolled. however I also think they should treat everyone fairly and in this case it seems they are not.

  20. ££C Radio Cymru

    But you’re contradicting yourself, Rodd, first you say ‘all we’re interested in is getting our music heard’, and ‘it’s not the bucks’, then you say ‘I too invest income from music back into music too’. Make your mind up!

    If you don’t care about ‘the money’, then don’t register your songs, and tell radio stations as you send material in. If you DO care about airplay related income, then why the hell are you laying into EOS? You’re not making any sense bud.

    I love a good rant, me, but at least have some logic / consistency behind your ranting, if you’re going to rant.

    And I ain’t no ‘Tafia’ (cool word though). Most of my songs are in English

  21. PRS made it possible for Sly and Reggie to make a video by tapping Bestival for a load of performance royalties so I wont knock them.
    Negotiating direct with the BBC is a smart move when performance payments are now such a large part of a musician’s small income.
    Creating a bit of a stink never hurt a negotiating position. So….it’s all good.

  22. K-RODD

    @££ Radio Cymru,no contradiction here.I put my own money into studio time,money I make from my 9-5 job.And where on earth do I say ‘its not the bucks’?Please keep things accurate.
    By the way this isn’t personal,its just My view.

  23. K-RODD

    @££ Radio Cymru And lastly all our songs are free to download on soundcloud.

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