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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK

UK: Wales

Language campaigner faces jail

A language campaigner said he was ready to face jail

A retired headmaster has become the latest person to be fined for refusing to pay the TV licence fee in protest about the language policy of Welsh broadcasters.

A group of campaigners have been protesting at what they see as the excessive use of English in Welsh-language radio programmes produced by BBC Wales and Welsh-language television programmes produced by S4C.

At Caernarfon magistrates court, Geraint Jones of Trefor, Gwynedd, said he had deliberately not paid the licence fee as part of the campaign.

He said there was an increasing use of English on Welsh-language TV and radio programmes.

'Ready to face jail'

He was fined 60 with an order to pay 45 costs. He told the magistrates he had no intention of paying the fine and would rather go to prison.

[ image: Meredydd Evans: fined for language protest]
Meredydd Evans: fined for language protest
He is the latest person to appear before the courts as part of the protest.

In August, four people appeared in two separate hearings before magistrates in west Wales.

In one of the cases, Dr Meredydd Evans and Dr Eirwen Gwynn were each fined 75 each with 45 costs by Aberystwyth magistrates after pleading guilty to the charge of receiving television signals without a licence.

Support from campaigners

The chairman of the bench, Brian Ashton, said that the maximum penalty for such an offence was 1000 but after hearing the defendants' address they decided to fine them 75.

Dr Evans said the BBC and S4C had decided to use the English language as a fundamental part of its Welsh language service.

He said that this was against the spirit of the act that was passed by Parliament in 1981 when S4C was formed. More than 150 supporters were at the magistrates court to express their support for the two defendants.

The two were backed by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, the Welsh Language Society. A petition is being collected in their support.

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