Promoter slams BBC's free festivals

Vince Power demands Government explains why broadcaster is allowed to spend taxpayers' money on massive music events

Vince Power, the man behind some of the biggest music festivals of the past 30 years, has launched a furious campaign against the BBC.

The music entrepreneur has twice written to the BBC's director-general Mark Thompson to demand to know why the broadcaster is putting on so many festivals, in particular this month's free admission, Rihanna-headlining Hackney Weekend, this summer.

Mr Power, who pocketed £13m from selling his Mean Fiddler music venues business in 2005, has also sent a letter to the Government, arguing that taxpayer money is subsidising the BBC festivals that are eating into the business of commercial event organisers.

His current company is Music Festivals, which is behind the Hop Farm festival in Kent that takes place a week after the Hackney Weekend. Mr Power, who has said recently that ticket sales for his festivales were down on last year, told The Independent on Sunday that big name acts, such as former White Stripes lead singer Jack White, had shunned his event for the BBC, as big record companies wanted their acts to get the playlist exposure that the broadcaster's event would bring.

"In a special time of austerity, I'm sure that taxpayers don't want to see their money spent on festivals," said Mr Power, alluding to the licence fee that funds the BBC. "If the BBC is giving something out for free, then we can't compete. It's really pissed me off. A lot of people aren't willing to put their head above the parapet, to say that this isn't fair. It isn't right."

Mr Power said that the BBC and ministers had sent back standard responses and passed him on to more junior officials. However, he said he would continue to demand answers from the BBC and Government as he "needs to get a proper result" on what he believes is a distortion of the market. "This needs to be taken seriously," he added.

The Hackney Weekend is part of Radio 1's annual "Big Weekend" events, which have taken place all over the country. It is in east London and is particularly big this year as part of a wider event to mark the Olympic Games. The event will be covered on Radio 1, BBC Three and will have its own website.

The threat to festival organisers is clear from BBC's website: "As 2012 is a very special Olympic year it felt right to celebrate in east London with an even bigger party. Nothing we've done so far has been as huge as the festival due to happen in Hackney this summer."

The six-stage line-up also includes the likes of Jay-Z, will.i.am, Leona Lewis and Kasabian. The BBC also puts on Radio 2's hugely popular Hyde Park Festival in September.

A number of music festivals have already been called off this summer as they have struggled to compete with the Olympic and Queen's Jubilee celebrations. Innocent Drinks cancelled its London 2012-themed event due to poor ticket sales, while the Scipmylo – "Olympics" backwards – cultural festival, also in Hackney, was put on hold earlier this month.

But, veteran rock concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith said the industry had to accept that the market was crowded. "Competition is competition," he said. "I don't know why the BBC is doing this, but that's life."

Asked for comment, a BBC spokesman said: "Live music is a core part of our output and we have a long history of staging events that offer unique live performances, feature an unrivalled breadth of artists, support new British music and complement the UK's vibrant festival scene. "

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
music
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own