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Artists take to the stage to perform music Capital XTRA is refusing to play
Posted: 27/01/2014 03:08 PM
Copyright: Trevor Raymond

THE SECOND protest rally against Capital XTRA's (formerly Choice FM) decision to desist from playing reggae, gospel and soca music was held on Saturday (Jan 25) outside Global Radio Headquarters in Leicester Square, Central London.

The rally, organised by BECTU, the Broadcast and Entertainment union and The Voice readers, began just after 2pm with an introduction from Janice Turner, Diversity Officer at BECTU. Ms Turner intrigued the cross section of protesters with her stance on the lack of racial equality and diversity in London’s radio programmes.

She said that Capital XTRA’s decision seemed to imply that they are more concerned with finances than the public interest and may even constitute a breach of their licence to play urban music. Later, she told The Voice that BECTU had written two letters to Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries.

The first was written in October after Choice FM was rebranded Capital XTRA, regarding the content of Global Radio’s licence to play reggae, soca and gospel music and whether they had been given permission to depart from it. Ofcom’s response was that they had given no such permission and Global was still legally entitled to play the type of music it was contracted to.

The second letter, according to Ms Turner, queried if Global was in breach of its licence with Ofcom based on its current programming. BECTU, she said, is still waiting for a response from Ofcom to this letter.

As the crowd grew, the rally took on a carnival like atmosphere as several artists took to the stage to perform the music format Capital XTRA is refusing to play.

There were performances by popular calypsonian Alexander D. Great, gospel rapper Keylyric, 2011 MOBO award winner Triple O and reggae singer Harmony among others.

Trade Union Congress Race Equality Officer, Wilf Sullivan told The Voice that he believes these protests will have a profound impact on Capital XTRA especially if they are continuing to keep reggae, soca and gospel off the air. He noted that London is a multicultural society and the music and radio programmes should reflect that diversity.

Keylyric commented that Capital XTRA’s resistance is ‘upsetting’ and that gospel and reggae music needed the far reaching outlet that only a major commercial radio can offer. He is hoping that the rally will have a positive impact on the station and that they will resort to playing the music they are licensed to.

Triple O, on the other hand, remarked that he believes Capital XTRA stopped playing urban music because they do not have faith in the economic aspect of the genre. He said that we need to show them how marketable and popular our music is.

*WORDS: Sashakay Fairclough*

Read the full report in The Voice on sale next Thursday (Jan 30)