Radio 1 Show ‘A Fart In A Space Suit’

MAMA Group chief exec Dean James is the second festival promoter to hit out at the BBC over the Big Weekend free festival it staged at London’s Hackney Marshes June 23-24.

He told the city’s Evening Standard the BBC event “significantly impacted” his Lovebox festival, one of the events HMV has put on the block, which was a week earlier and pulled about 20,000 fans per day to a 50,000-capacity site at London’s Victoria Park June 15-17.

“For them to turn up with a free event in an Olympic year was about as welcome as a fart in a space suit,” James told the London daily.

Isle Of Wight chief John Giddings previously told Pollstar he isn’t happy his festival was forced to compete for acts with a free festival that’s paid for out of the public purse.

Artists didn’t get paid so well – if they got paid at all – to play the free bash on the 300 or so acres of grassland neighbouring the Olympic Park, and Giddings says it irks him when acts looking to play both expect him to work around the BBC’s schedule.

The Beeb’s Big Weekend lineup had Rihanna, Jay-Z, Kasabian, Florence & The Machine, Jessie J, Plan B, David Guetta and Ed Sheeran, among others.

“What it amounts to is that I’m subsidising the competition,” Giddings said. “I understand that record companies want their acts to play a Radio 1 show but I’m not happy about paying for it.”

James, whose Vintage Festival has sold so few tickets that it’s become part of HMV-owned Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire Aug. 10-12, is especially angry as Radio 1 boss Ben Cooper has said that Big Weekend was “going into an area that I don’t think any commercial operator would have gone into after the unrest of last year” and it wasn’t “taking ticket sales from competing festivals.”

“Instead of putting on a free event with taxpayers’ money,” Cooper should “get behind our event,” said James, echoing Giddings’ opinion of how the BBC event is funded.

Apart from Lovebox, Vintage and Wilderness, the other UK outdoors HMV’s trying to sell are Global Gathering and The Great Escape.