BBC to play 'four to five seconds' of Thatcher protest song

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The BBC has announced it will not play "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" in its entirety on today's Radio 1 Chart Show. The song has become the third most downloaded single of the week, following the death of former United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The song is featured in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.

Controller of Radio 1 Ben Cooper said "about a four or five second clip" of the song would be included in a news item explaining why it has featured in the charts, which will air as part of the programme.

BBC Director-General Tony Hall stated that although he believed the song was "distasteful and inappropriate", an outright ban would breach the principle of free speech.

Conservative MP John Whittingdale, Chairman of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee welcomed the BBC's decision, acknowledging "this was always going to be a very difficult decision for the BBC [...] I don't think it would have been right to have allowed the chart show to have been hijacked for political purposes and had they played the whole song that would have been the consequence. But on the other hand they couldn't have just ignored the fact that it does feature amongst the most downloaded singles of the week."

Conservative MP Rob Wilson, for Reading East, however, said the BBC had "come up with a very British old-fashioned fudge" and Mrs Thatcher would have been "horrified [...] that she could in any way have censorship in her own country."

Mrs Thatcher's supporters have launched a campaign to get "I'm in Love with Margaret Thatcher" into the music chart alongside "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead".

Mrs Thatcher's funeral is scheduled for St.Paul's Cathedral on Wednesday. It is to be attended by leading figures from the worlds of politics and entertainment, as well as several international figures, including former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee.