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Europe

BBC under fire for ‘Witch is Dead’ song compromise

© afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-04-14

The BBC came under fire for censorship Saturday after saying it would broadcast only part of “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” following an online campaign to push the song to No. 1 in the wake of former PM Margaret Thatcher's death.

The BBC came under fire Saturday from critics crying censorship after announcing that it would broadcast only part of the song “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” from “The Wizard of Oz” movie as part of a news item, instead of playing the whole song as part of its usual “Top 40” charts coverage.

Detractors of Britain’s former prime minister Margaret Thatcher have been waging an online campaign to push the song to No. 1 on the British charts in a posthumous protest over her union-busting and privatisation policies. Thatcher died on Monday after suffering a stroke.

The BBC's Radio 1 normally plays a Sunday countdown of all the songs that have made the charts in the past week.

By Friday the online campaign had elevated the song to No. 2 on the music charts after selling 20,000 copies in the past week and made it the No. 1 download on British iTunes.

Several lawmakers from Thatcher’s Conservative Party had called for the publicly funded broadcaster to drop the song entirely.

The BBC sought to silence the critics while not giving in to outright self-censorship by airing just four or five seconds of the song. Director-general Tony Hall said that while the BBC felt the campaign was “distasteful and inappropriate”, executives decided the song should not be banned but should also not be broadcast in its entirety.

“We have agreed that we won’t be playing the song in full, rather treating it as a news story and playing a short extract to put it in context,” he said in a statement.

Police brace for street ‘celebrations’

Police in London were bracing Saturday for massive street demonstrations planned in London's Trafalgar Square to celebrate Thatcher's death.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said the authorities were prepared for potential violence after trouble erupted at several impromptu street gatherings earlier in the week.

Thatcher’s funeral is set to take place in the capital on Wednesday, attended by Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister David Cameron and 2,000 other world figures.

No formal demonstration has been organised for Saturday, but almost 1,500 people have pledged to attend a "Thatcher's Dead" event at 5pm GMT announced on Facebook.

Several representatives of the coal miners who battled Thatcher in a year-long strike in 1985 plan to travel to the capital for the event alongside students and left-wing groups, The Guardian reported.

Johnson said people were “entitled to protest” but warned police would take a tough line on any violence.

"We live in a democracy where people are entitled to protest, they are entitled to have fun and do what they want," Johnson told LBC radio on Friday.

"The police are obviously going to be making sure that if people do break the law they will be properly dealt with," he said. 

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

 

Date created : 2013-04-13

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