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News agencies boycott wedding over rights row

AFP/The Local · 20 Jun 2010, 09:17

Published: 20 Jun 2010 09:17 GMT+02:00

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In a note to its subscribers hours before the ceremony was to begin at 3:30pm, AFP explained that "due to restrictions by Swedish public television SVT on images of the marriage ... (AFP) will not distribute text, photos, or videos" of the event.

The three global agencies were unable to resolve their disagreement with SVT ahead of the ceremony and decided not to cover the event despite having additional journalists, photographers and cameramen in Stockholm.

The dispute related to the royal court's decision to grant exclusive broadcast rights inside Stockholm Cathedral to SVT, as well as the amount charged by the public broadcaster to purchase its footage and the terms of use attached.

The amount requested by SVT "largely surpasses the market price," said Christine Buhagiar, who heads AFP's video service AFPTV.

SVT meanwhile insisted the price was "standard."

Sweden's royal court has said the festivities surrounding the 32-year-old princess's wedding to her former personal trainer would be the biggest event ever organised in Stockholm.

SVT head of communications, Helga Baagoe, said the three news agencies had been given the choice of what kind of broadcast rights they wanted to purchase from the event and could have chosen to "pay more to get more."

"We are very surprised by their reaction," she told AFP, adding that SVT had thought it had an agreement with the three agencies. "We are following normal practice here."

The decision "to take measures that penalises other media, who will not get text and pictures," was "very regrettable," she said.

According to Baagoe, the disagreement was over "completely ordinary terms of use and SVT cannot in any way take responsibility for these strange measures."

The three agencies contacted the royal court Saturday morning in hopes it would intervene, but in vain.

In an email addressed to the head of communications at the royal court, Nina Eldh, the agencies said "owing to the impasse over unrestricted television news access to today's wedding ceremony, Reuters, AFP and the Associated Press have decided to withdraw from coverage of the event."

In the email, also copied to Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, the agencies said they "will not be distributing still pictures, text or video reports relating to it anywhere in the world."

Story continues below…

"We have made this decision reluctantly and at great cost both to ourselves and our subscribers," they said, calling on the court to come with "any suggestions you might have as to how the situation could be resolved."

AFP global news director Philippe Massonnet said "this battle aims to enable us to better inform the public."

He went on to decry "the increasingly commercialised use" of large events by their promoters.

"This has become common in sports but now affects all kinds of events, especially involving celebrities," he said.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:40 June 20, 2010 by Gordon Kerr
Greedy swedes
09:51 June 20, 2010 by Mib
The Royal Court made a big mistake to offer exclusivity to one agency. The publicity alone worldwide would have been a great advert for Sweden whose Government (tax payers) incidently are paying a large sum to cover security and more. So, it was a very short sighted decision!
10:46 June 20, 2010 by StockholmSam
Wow, all that tax money spent with the explanation that it would bring international attention to Sweden and therefore be a good use of public funds and this is what happens? Nice move Royal Court and SVT. I had friends outside of Sweden who wanted to watch it but couldn't because of this. I think the taxpayers deserve at least a partial refund because the contract was not fulfilled.
10:51 June 20, 2010 by byke
Yet another TAX waste.
11:19 June 20, 2010 by Great Scott
Yes greed rules once again, and who wins no one. What a great opportunity missed for Sweden? Not only have they lost money for the TV rights, but probably even more through tourism.
11:23 June 20, 2010 by cogito
Can't they do anything right?
11:59 June 20, 2010 by arslan11
Don't understand the hype created by the local on this ordinary marriage.. You can't even imagine to compare Swedish Monarchy with British or even Danish..

Does Sweden ever ruled half of the World including complete South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh), almost complete Africa etc like British??? People from these countries are interested in British Monarch due to their history (either positive or negative).

Why they bother about princess of a country that they never heard about??
12:03 June 20, 2010 by Wertyx
I don't believe it! The only reason why I decided to be OK with my taxes used to pay the over-price, obsolete and useless royal wedding was because of the marketing opportunities it would bring to Sweden, and now because of this idiots, it turned out to be just a national event?

How do we ask a tax refund for next year???

Sweden is such a small country because of the small mindset of the people leading it. What a shame...
12:42 June 20, 2010 by Twiceshy
hold on.... so they AP etc think it is too much money...

but when we do that, and to piratebay we are going to jail.

hummm........ i love double standards!

as for me I am happy the 2 had their perfect day!
12:46 June 20, 2010 by Earandur Lissesul
Well folks I watched the whole coverage of the Royal Wedding on SVT on my computer here in the UK, from midday to the first dance in the evening. All I can say it showed Sweden in a great light and no doubt will enhance your tourist trade. I for one am looking forward to my seventh visit to Stockholm (Sweden) this Thursday for the Mid-Summer festivities. Every country has it's horror stories, not least the Uk and the NHS. So lighten up and take the wedding for what it was the joining of a happy couple.
15:28 June 20, 2010 by vladd777
@Earandur Lissesul

My thoughts exactly!
17:07 June 20, 2010 by glamelixir
tax refund.
17:59 June 20, 2010 by Miss May
Wonderful wedding!!! I made a fresh pot of coffee, pulled my rocking chair up to the computer monitor and felt I was a guest!!! The music was splendid, as was the choir. I sang the hymns too!

Now, I wish I had a piece of wedding cake!!!

Kind regards from Miss May

Lake Tahoe,California
18:13 June 20, 2010 by carolinabelle
It was a lovely day and the footage really showcased what a beautiful city Stockholm is. Too bad the only available coverage was entirely in Swedish! As an American, while I am multi-lingual, Swedish is not a language that I understand...nor do most people outside of Scandinavia.

What a disappointing move by SVT. This was an incredible opportunity to "show off" Sweden to the rest of the world. I was only a five-year-old when Lady Diana wed prince Charles and remember it very well. I was hoping to watch Princess Victoria's wedding with my young nieces. They would have loved to have seen a "real" princess. Not much fun watching on a laptop in a language one cannot comprehend.

Oh well. I will continue visiting Sweden. It is a wonderful country for family vacations. Perhaps my children will meet a member of the royal family as I did as a teen while vacationing on Öland (the King).
18:43 June 20, 2010 by Kaethar
The "rest of the world" being the US and France? And the other countries in Africa and Asia that get news from them? This wedding was big news in the rest of the Nordic countries as well as Northern Europe (Germany, Netherlands, etc and to a lesser extent Britain). These are the countries we would expect to, and will get, tourists from. So mission accomplished, I say. :)
19:24 June 20, 2010 by Frobobbles
As many papers report, swedish television demanded that all pictures be removed after 48 hours. Nowadays many papers keep their news on the web for years. The SVT demand means that the wedding pictures would have to be removed worldwide already on monday! Of course, no respectable news agency can accept such an absurdity.
21:58 June 20, 2010 by Kaethar
@Frobobbles: Out of all contracts signed only 3 complained. The biggest 3 that are used to pushing people around and getting their way. You don't think we're sad SVT didn't bow down to them, do you? :) The 48 hour rule only applies to video - and it is not an uncommon request either
06:44 June 21, 2010 by Decedo
Opportunity lost. I don't think the 'Nordic Countries, Northern Europe and/or people that regularily travel to Sweden (anyway)' are the target markets that tourism could have tapped. It's the casual viewers/tourists that would have seen how beautiful Stockholm was during the wedding, and possibly planned to come here in the future.
08:24 June 21, 2010 by ricoshay
It's embarrassing to be swedish right now. To think that a public occasion like this should become an opportunity for a media co. to claim exclusive publishing rights for profit. It's ludacris and plain stupid. Earlier in the week we had Carl-Henric Svanberg of BP who completely unprepared had a moment of shame when he addressed US tax paying citizens as "small people". And now this SVT media coverage fiasco. It only makes me think of typical f-in peasants who can't see the big picture.
22:47 June 29, 2010 by Michaelmack
I lived for several years in Sweden and I get back as often as possible; it is without a doubt my favourite country. Nevertheless, I have never seen the Swedish royal family or any other royal family as anything other than an undemocratic anachronism.

However much TV coverage the recent event might have got if it had been more sensibly planned, it was still, in international terms, irrelevant against more serious matters facing the world that day.

Let's continue to tell potential tourists all about Sweden itself - a wonderful place to visit to really restore the soul.
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