Swedish ship Gotheborg, a full-scale replica of the historic East Indiaman merchant vessel ‘Gotheborg’, arrives in Stockholm, Sweden, Monday June 14, 2010, to take part in the celebrations surrounding the upcoming marriage of Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Wessling. The Stockholm Old Town is in the background, with the Royal Palace to the right. (AP photo/Scanpix, Janerik Henriksson)
This morning, June 19, Reuters, the Associated Press (AP) and the French Agence France-Presse (AFP) announced that they would be banning all coverage of the Swedish royal wedding between Crown Princess Victoria and the newly-created Prince Daniel. This unexpected development came about as the result of Swedish television’s restrictions on live, or even timely, video footage of the ceremony.
No compromise between Swedish TV and major American news agencies
Hundreds of royals, state heads and celebrities from across the world, Britain’s Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex among them, were able to witness the historic wedding. Swedish TV station SVT had been given exclusive rights to film the ceremony and decided to restrict access to footage until hours after the event and to make it available for only 48 hours.
The involved news agencies tried to negotiate a change to SVT’s policy, but none was forthcoming. Since this would mean that millions of viewers would not be able to see the wedding in a reasonable time period, the press agencies boycotted all coverage of the historic event.
The news agencies decided to pull all coverage of today’s, including all photographs, press releases and video. They hold the view that an event of historic significance such as this should not be restricted in the same way as, say, a sports or entertainment event.
Three press agencies take a stand for freedom of the press in Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel’s wedding
Reuters made the following statement: “Reuters regrets this course of action. However, Reuters remains committed to press freedom and protecting the interests and coverage rights of our global client base.”
Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the Associated Press, said, “The restrictions of this newsworthy event apply only to video, but if our video coverage is unreasonably restricted, we cannot cover the event in any format. No text stories and no photographs.”
Sweden surprised at the reaction to restriction of the Swedish royal wedding
Helga Baagoe, director of SVT, has expressed “surprise” because her agency had already cut several deals with European TV stations to broadcast the Victoria and Daniel wedding later on today or in the next two days. Swedish news agency TT said that the agencies “had a nerve.”
The Victoria and Daniel wedding has been plagued with controversy since its beginnings. Today’s surprise news embargo is just the final chapter in this long, years-in-the-making fairytale wedding.
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