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SVT hits back over news agency wedding boycott

TT/The Local · 21 Jun 2010, 08:00

Published: 21 Jun 2010 08:00 GMT+02:00

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"We are going to send a strongly-worded letter to Reuters tomorrow," said Helga Baagö at SVT to news agency TT on Sunday.

The letter will be signed by SVT head Eva Hamilton.

"We will outline just how we think they have handled this," Baagö said.

The agencies had bought 90 seconds of film material from the wedding ceremony inside the church but reacted angrily to the clause that they were only permitted to use the clip for 48 hours and in the end elected to boycott coverage of the wedding entirely.

AFP published a statement to its subscribers on Saturday afternoon, shortly before the wedding ceremony was due to start, saying 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.

Christine Buhagiar, who heads AFP's video service AFPTV, was quoted as saying that the amount requested by SVT "largely surpasses the market price," while SVT has meanwhile insisted that the price was "standard."

Sweden could have lost valuable publicity over the boycott and many articles penned by smaller agencies were later published without pictures as a result.

The foreign ministry had been allocated extra funds to distribute information about Sweden in connection with the wedding, work which was complicated by the boycott.

The broadcasting rights were negotiated between the Royal Court and SVT, who then struck a deal with the major international media agencies.

But when the four parties sat down to sign the contracts, the agencies reacted strongly to the 48 hour restriction on the use of the filmed material.

The agreement with SVT would, according to the agencies, have meant that many viewers in Europe and North America would not have been able to see the footage until several hours after the wedding ceremony.

The three agencies contacted the Royal Court on Saturday morning in the hope that it would intervene, but to no avail.

In an email addressed to the head of communications at the Royal Court, Nina Eldh, the agencies said that "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."

"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."

Story continues below…

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.

But Helga Baagö has rejected the arguments and arguing that it is clear why the agencies acted like they did.

"They are trying to raise the stakes to create new future possibilities for earning money, by trying to argue that they should have the rights at a lower price or without any restrictions - so that they can continue to sell the material on to their customers," she said.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:04 June 21, 2010 by byke
SVT = Operation save face.
09:31 June 21, 2010 by Mackan2017
Disgusting action by SVT. But in the end, less exposure for this wedding is a very good thing. Everyone's thoroughly sick of it anyway.
10:04 June 21, 2010 by BrittInSweden
I missed the football thanks to SVT showing that wedding.

Could have at least scheduled it for another channel instead. I wouldn't watch my own monarchy's wedding let alone someone elses.
10:04 June 21, 2010 by karex
It was a blundering idiotic decision by SVT and a big mistake which probably cost Sweden many tourist USD/Euro...

Giving one agency exclusive rights to actually film inside the church is one thing, restricting when and how the material can be used is tatamount to controlling the free press.

With respect to an event such as a Royal wedding, people are more interested in watching it live, not hours later.
10:42 June 21, 2010 by Beavis
Outside the Nordics..no one actually gives a damn..Internationally the story would have made pages 12 in a small section next to Micheal Jacksons kids going to school (Have seen in two papers!)
10:44 June 21, 2010 by RobinHood
What a bunch of buffons they must be at STV. They had the biggest international story to come out of Sweden for years, and they blew it.

They offered a media package with a 48 hour proviso to their customers (AFP, AP and Reuters) who chose not to buy it, as is their priviledge.

I wish I could write a "strongly worded letter" to my customers every time they chose not to buy one of my products, but if they did, they would think me a fool.

Off with the responsible arrogant heads at SVT. The rest of them can go on a sales course and learn some basic business techniques, such as giving your customers what they want.
10:53 June 21, 2010 by Victor Alexandre
Did they really buy only 90 *seconds* of video? "The agencies had bought 90 seconds of film material...". Wonder how expensive that might have been...
11:04 June 21, 2010 by davidsi
I would have to side with SVT on this one. Reuters, AP and AFP were trying to use their monopoly power to extort archival rights at the last minute. Otherwise, they could have just declined on the video and used the photos and other material. The event was newsworthy and they denied their own customers coverage. But, why should SVT and the Royal Court give them archival rights? What makes one event more historical than another? Apparently, Reuters, AP and AFP are used to having free archives, see encroachments on their business models and decided to make an example of the Royal wedding. How about alternative distribution networks to these monopolists instead?
11:07 June 21, 2010 by concha de tu puta madre
I wonder what the strongly worded letter will consist of? SVT is a joke and they bollixed it big time. Greedy cream sauce eating monkeys
11:08 June 21, 2010 by planet.sweden
I totally support the agencies. The attempt by SVT to cash in on the wedding stands in sharp contrast to the small traders of Stockholm. I stopped by at by local outdoor sausage and cafe at Nybroplan for a drink on Saturday. The price for a soft drink normally is 20 sek, And on the Wedding day? Also 20 sek.

Not everybody's a greedy hog SVT!

I particularly dislike the way the Swedes have sought to once again to rip off non Swedes while looking after their own. The Swedish Royal family made sure the wedding was free to view for the nation, but when it came to the foreign agencies and world outside, SVT sought to rip people off for simply showing an interest in a Swedish event. I'm glad the agencies took a stand and SVT got their just deserts.
11:21 June 21, 2010 by Streja
BrittinSweden, the world cup can be watched live on svt.se.
11:38 June 21, 2010 by StockholmSam
Disgusting on SVT's part. And to think that the public outcry over spending tax money on this wedding was calmed mainly by the promise that it would give Sweden excellent global exposure. I remember watching Prince Charles and Lady Di get married live in the States. There was no delay on that broadcast. Before that wedding, England held no allure for me, but afterwards, I felt a strong connection. SVT blew Sweden's best chance in decades. Heads will roll.
11:53 June 21, 2010 by Streja
StockholmSam, the bbc has the rights to that wedding. You have to pay to show it now even.

Meanwhile, svt puts everything online onsvt.se plus even youtube.
11:56 June 21, 2010 by xavidx
Dont we pay TV tax for this. Doesnt SVT have enouph money. I dont know what went down and I dont know who is right or wrong. It just sucks that the world does not get to see this event. Anyway, It should of been live world wide in my opinion.

SVT should of been hired to film the event and provide all the matrial for a small administration fee. This is the Swedish brand we are talking about. Its like free advertising except you charge people for it and they did not buy.
11:58 June 21, 2010 by Beavis
"They had the biggest international story to come out of Sweden for years, and they blew it"

Useless and all as SVT are, internationally, this is tiny story. It wouldnt make the news in most countries outside the nordics and those it did, would be a 3 second segment in the "entertainment/gossip news" Sven got far more world coverage vs Brazil in the football match that the royals would ever get.
12:09 June 21, 2010 by Streja
beavis, it was a huge story in Spain. That's not in the North.
12:28 June 21, 2010 by DAVID T
It made sky news all day on Saturday
13:27 June 21, 2010 by Decedo
An agreement is always open for negotiations. Obviously one side didn't like an aspect of the agreement and the other side did not budge. If (and it eventually did) it falls apart, who stands to lose more? Sweden in tourism. Ya think the big three news agencies lost a second of sleep? Hell no! The horse is out of the barn now SVT, ya lost your chance that would have helped the country. Write all the little 'strongly worded letter' you want, ya f#@ked up.
13:32 June 21, 2010 by t-br
For those who claim that the wedding was not popular outside the Nordic Area:

Front page news in Dutch newspapers and live television coverage on Saturday. The live broadcast had 1.4 million viewers in the Netherlands on a Saturday afternoon (not really prime time...).
13:56 June 21, 2010 by glamelixir

I agree with you, In my country there was one really small picture of the couple with light from behind, so you couldn't even actually see them haha. and just a headlike Swedish princess is getting married today. And the text? Maxima and her husband travelled for the wedding. hahaha


It was a huge story in Spain because A- Spain has one of the two biggest and most known monarchies in the world and B- You were the country who sent the most people. Which is such a paradox for a country with such huge economic problems... you should revise your priorities by the way before you come begging us and the rest of the EU for a big loan.


As a person from the media, I understand your point and you might be quite right in many things, but let's not be silly enough to not see that the Swedish royalty is not big news. They would have pay anything without questioning for the British Royalty doing any thing. It is offer and demand, that is how media works. The point is if this would have been rentable enough, trust that they would have payed what ever it costs, but this is just uninteresting in so many parts of the world and these agencies work worldwide.
13:56 June 21, 2010 by Mr. Puppy
I'm really upset at SVT over this because this was a chance for Swedish news to reach my family back home but instead all my family heard about was the boycott, and so what would have been a much larger story was turned into nothing, and once again the world is clueless about what goes on inside Sweden.

This is completely SVT's fault. We are living in the information age, SVT... that means that the price of information is lowering substantially. Figure it out!
14:16 June 21, 2010 by StockholmSam
@Streja, you missed my point with the British wedding. It wasn't about who paid what for the rights to broadcast. It was about the value of being able to take part in an amazing cultural event that left me with a long-standing connection to a place that I did not have previously. This was the value of the Swedish wedding to the Swedish people and the people of the world, a value that is immeasurable, unquantifiable. Yet SVT tried to put a price on it and was willing to sacrifice this rare opportunity in pursuit of a small profit.
15:11 June 21, 2010 by Octover
It's nice to see the poor big powerful news agencies get defended by the people. Since this is not my field I can't say expertly that it was standard deal, but it sounds reasonable and normal in this day and age. The big gorillas tried to throw their weight around and are now crying cause SVT wouldn't roll over on their back for them. AFP and AP regularly go after the smallest infringements, and fail to see anything wrong when they are the ones breaking someone else's copyright. It would not surprise me at all if SVT was merely borrowing from their own play books, which they can admit is unfair, too restrictive and expensive when they are the ones paying the bill.
15:16 June 21, 2010 by Luke35711
Objectively a minor thing. But VERY VERY significant and typical for how business is done today in this small isolated country. Increasingly obsessive-compulsive and toxic to self-interest. Proves my point that the culture here is not rational as it is claimed to be, or as it used to be. But increasingly driven by ideology, ego-trips, self-importance, inflexibility, internal conflicts, and obsessions. In any case, a

TOTAL PUBLIC RELATIONS FAILURE, but of course nobody locally is responsible - another typical thing. Sending a strongly worded latter?! Now?! Gigantic PR-error

and frankly addmission of total incompetence. These international-scale PR blunders and media circus are becoming a weekly thing. It is frightening for Sweden! Wake up Sweden! Learn more and work harder!
15:27 June 21, 2010 by Dhyana
But I still don't get what exactly the bone of contention was. Reuters and the other agencies bought rights to 90 seconds video clip to use within 48 hours. Then why did they complain their public would only get to see the video "several hours later"?

If SVT, at the last minute, set some kind of prohibitively high price on the clip during the first 1-2 hours after the wedding, I would understand what the big deal was about. But no one has stated any such.
15:59 June 21, 2010 by adigunbabatunde@yahoo.com
Is this not the same svt that collects money from the citizenry to finanace its activities? this guys like reap where thay have not sown and thats why AFP has to leaave. I hope they repay their deposits if any.....
16:08 June 21, 2010 by Tutu
The loser at the end of the day is Sweden. Showing Princes Madeleine repeatedly could have boosted Swedish tourism. Even the little clip of her got attention of people on CNN forum.

However i will advise adigunbabatunde@yahoo.com to change his user name. dat address supposed to be confidential.
16:27 June 21, 2010 by riose
@Streja The wedding a big thing in Spain? ô_Ó

I have been searching in the Spanish news aggregators, and I barely found something (http://www.meneame.net/search.php?q=suecia)

@glamelixir In fact the problems in Spain are (as it has always been) high unemployment (which is a big problem) & informal sector (~20% of the GDP)

What you read in the newspapers are just speculation to attract investors to other countries (UK mainly & also Germany). Spain did not nationalize a single bank, and the public debt rate is much lower than most other countries http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt
16:31 June 21, 2010 by t-br

16:37 June 21, 2010 by Kaethar
"I would have to side with SVT on this one. Reuters, AP and AFP were trying to use their monopoly power to extort archival rights at the last minute. Otherwise, they could have just declined on the video and used the photos and other material. The event was newsworthy and they denied their own customers coverage. But, why should SVT and the Royal Court give them archival rights? What makes one event more historical than another? Apparently, Reuters, AP and AFP are used to having free archives, see encroachments on their business models and decided to make an example of the Royal wedding. How about alternative distribution networks to these monopolists instead?"

I agree with this. Who do those idiots think they are? SVT were right in not bowing down to their demands. And some people truly are delusional if they believe coverage of this in American TV would lead to more American tourists to Sweden. No, the wedding was covered in European countries which is where Sweden would expect to get tourists from. :)
16:58 June 21, 2010 by glamelixir
@ Luke35711

Spot on! I AM in fact a PR, graduateed and working in my homeland for 12 years and guess what ? Sweden has no idea at all about PR, neither do most of their companies. (at least not those who haven't been Americanized)

I have always been so surprised about that.

@ riose

I really hope Spain comes out of whatever the crisis is asap and on its own.
17:06 June 21, 2010 by Michael84
SVT is getting tough :)
17:20 June 21, 2010 by slapbangwallah
It is not true that people outside Europe were not interested in this wedding. Believe it or not, there are royal watchers from around the globe. Here in the States, I know a lot of people, some royal watchers, some not, who wanted to watch this event. With the typical American being bombarded constantly with either bad news or the latest brainless antics from clueless celebrities, we were looking forward to a day of elegance, class and just plain uplifting goodness. I told everyone to watch svtplay based on a suggestion from a The Local reader . And if you think that this would not have had an impact on tourism, I beg to differ. The carriage ride followed by the barge trip showed off the beauty of Stockholm and definitely convinced me to make my next vacation in Stockholm. Congratulations to the royal couple! It was an event filled with warm, heartfelt moments. And for those who were able to find it on the net, it was a day to make one smile. I always say that it's easier and lazier to act like a slob than to act with class.
18:33 June 21, 2010 by Rebel
A strongly worded lette? Oh my! Reminds me of the scene in Team America where Hans Blixt threatened Kim Jong with a harsh letter.
19:05 June 21, 2010 by Frobobbles
Heads must roll. On swedish television, there was certainly more than 90 seconds from the wedding.
21:52 June 21, 2010 by aaww
there is no exact right or wrong in the business world, but it's actually a talent to mess up with all three big news agencies in the world at the same time.
22:14 June 21, 2010 by Luke35711

Very true. There is no human resources, either. And it's not a Scandinavian thing, many attitudes are unique to Sweden, and very different in Norway or Denmark. Egalitarian, safe, rich, and well-organized societies do not have to be like this, Sweden has a set of really worrying BIG BROTHER, dehumanizing, technocratic, elitist, and nationalistic attitudes which are unique among Scandinavian countries.
01:00 June 22, 2010 by JoeSwede
Sweden blew it. Why did SVT have a monopoly over the whole thing? A swedish socialist company has market monopoly over a public monarchy wedding. Strange!!! So many contradictions....

But it's too bad that it was not televised more. At least the people of Sweden enjoyed it.
09:41 June 22, 2010 by gsurya
The main problem is complete lack of transparancy on how these deals are done for such events, as opposed to those like the worldcup or other sporting events.

The fact that Reuters, AFP and AP all ganged up against SVT in this case clearly shows that there was some form of cartelization at work trying to force SVT into an unfair deal and its good SVT stood-up to it.

Next, SVT should publicize all details about what these agencies were asking for and what went wrong - so as to clear the air amongst the public.
13:17 June 22, 2010 by Maddeshusband
SVT has now publcised some details about the deal.

SVT was asking for 10 000 sek for the worldwide rights for 48 hours.

That is some 800 £.

Reuters/AFP/AP wasn´t even prepared to pay 800 pounds...

Who´s the greedy ones, really?
16:36 June 22, 2010 by Luke35711

Can you, please, provide a link to where this information was published? In any case, the right thing to do would be to accept the terms for PR value it could bring to Sweden, and send a strongly worded letter afterwards, and/or discuss

this in the press. A company funded by tax money has an obligation to do what's best for the state and the tax-payer, never mind egos or 10000 SEK.
17:34 June 22, 2010 by Maddeshusband
An article from Sweden´s largest morningpaper Dagens Nyheter:

20:54 June 22, 2010 by Luke35711
The comments on DN indicate that this was a very controversial decision for many Swedes. 10000 SEK is a laughable amount of money for both sides, so this was probably about time restrictions not money. Hard to be certain with so limited transparency and data on comparable deals by BBC or RTE, but this has to a sign of a deeper conflict between publicly funded state broadcaster monopoly, and enterprising news agencies. Somebody was clearly trying to teach somebody a lesson: at the end of the day, it is Sweden that lost. Look. there is huge amount of interest in things Royal outside Europe, for example in the US or Australia. I would not underestimate PR loss for brand Sweden.
06:36 June 23, 2010 by Decedo
Wow I hope it's down to the time restrictions. It would be a travesty if Sweden lost invaluable PR for a mere 10000 SEK. If so, then that alone should be a call for 'heads to roll'.
07:59 June 23, 2010 by Maddeshusband
This wedding was first and foremost a big event for the royal family, Sweden and the swedish people.

It was also big in the other nordic countries, benelux and Germany, but they had their own media here so they covered it all anyway.

The fact that there was a limited spread of pics to the english speaking world is no biggie, because they weren´t interested avnyway.

10 000 SEK was a symbolic sum, and if they didn't want to pay then screw them.

But I suppose that on this forum, the english speaking world is all that matters and if it's not reported in the english speaking media it hasn't happened!

21:25 June 23, 2010 by J Jack
The fact is the Royal Wedding was an event of cultural historical significance. That content should be free to the public in real time. One could say the same of a football match depending on how passionate one is about football. The difference is that I don't convince my entire household to sit around the computer to see football from another country. SVT should be sued by the public that got blocked from watching a piece of live history, even if it was boring, which it was.
23:45 June 23, 2010 by Luke35711

>It was also big in the other nordic countries, benelux and >Germany, but they had their own media here so they >covered it all anyway.

Wait, wait, what are you saying.. Are you saying Sweden and Germany form some sort of big cultural union and that English speaking world is excluded from this, because they are not pat of the "people"?

>and if they didn't want to pay then screw them.

This is not a very civilized thing to say!
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