The Nobel Foundation chairman, Marcus Storch, gave a speech at the Nobel dinner in December 2007 addressing freedom of the press and freedom of speech. The Chinese television company that bought the rights to the broadcast from TV 4 censored the speech.
According to a press release on Friday the Nobel Foundation only received information about the censorship of the broadcast in April.
The foundation acted immediately to terminate the contract with TV 4, which owned the sole rights to broadcast the festivities.
“Censorship contradicts our fundamental values. This we can not accept,” said Michael Sohlman, Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation, to Dagens Nyheter.
Sohlman maintains that the broadcasts from Nobel Day are governed by the strict terms contained in a contract between Nobel Media and TV 4 – a detailed contract that renders censorship of the broadcasts impossible.
TV 4’s subsequent contract with Chinese television deviated from the terms of the original contract, according to Sohlman.
Jan Scherman, TV 4’s CEO, disagrees with Sohlman’s version of events. Scherman maintains that Nobel Media had been made party to the details in the agreement between TV 4 and the Chinese television company in the middle of November. According to Scherman, Nobel Media expressed no objections at the time.
The agreement with the Chinese broadcaster included several detailed clauses restricting amendments to Nobel broadcasts, according to TV 4.
“They were responsible for informing us of any planned changes in the material. Changes were not completely forbidden but had they affected any of the fundamental conditions then we would have had to remove China from the map,” said Jan Scherman.
50 million Chinese viewers were, for the first time, given the opportunity to experience the Nobel festivities, according to TV 4.
It is as yet unclear which company will takeover the rights to broadcast this year’s Nobel prize ceremony.