ABC TV has reluctantly cancelled its widely promoted program The Chaser’s Royal Wedding Commentary because of new restrictions, imposed over Easter, on its planned ABC2 live coverage of the event.
ABC TV had initially been informed by the BBC and subsequently by Associated Press Television News (APTN) that there were no restrictions on the use of the coverage that would prevent The Chaser’s wedding commentary.
However, the new conditions of use issued by APTN over the Easter break state that footage cannot be used “in any drama, comedy, satirical or similar entertainment program or content.”
The APTN advisory imposed the restrictions on the coverage of the wedding ceremony from Westminster Abbey as agreed between Clarence House, the private office of the Prince of Wales and the BBC.
According to the advisory “ the ‘Wedding Ceremony’ shall mean the period from the arrival of the first member of the Royal Family for the wedding service until the last member of the Royal Family leaves the main entrance of Westminster Abbey following the conclusion of the wedding service.”
According to the BBC, all providers of live coverage of the wedding have agreed to the restrictions imposed by Clarence House.
ABC1 will still be taking the BBC coverage of the wedding, including its commentary, and ABC News and ABC News 24’s coverage will not be affected by the ban on ABC2 usage.
Kim Dalton, Director of ABC TV said “the national broadcaster has acted in good faith in its negotiations around ABC2’s planned coverage with both the BBC and APTN.
“We’re surprised and disappointed at this very late stage to be informed that any satirical or comedic treatment of the marriage of Australia’s future Head of State has been banned.”
As late as this morning the BBC issued a new contract imposing additional restrictions on the use of its material.
“ABC TV had always planned to take the BBC’s full coverage with commentary on ABC1. However like other broadcasters we thought Australians would appreciate an alternative “take” on this major event,” said Dalton.
“The Nine Network has Dame Edna giving her commentary and the Ten Network has the 7PM Project taking a light-hearted approach to the Royal Wedding. Our obvious choice, for a light-hearted commentary is The Chaser team. Clearly, the BBC and Clarence House have decided The Chaser aren’t acceptable.”
The Chaser’s Julian Morrow said “The Chaser team accepts that the ABC has been put in an impossible position by people acting on behalf of the Royal Family.
“For a monarchy to be issuing decrees about how the media should cover them seems quite out of keeping with modern democratic times …. but I suppose that’s exactly what the monarchy is.
“It’s traditional for the condemned to appeal to the Monarch for a stay of execution, so that’s what we’re going to do. Unfortunately, it’s also traditional for people who appeal for clemency to be executed.”
The Chaser’s Chris Taylor said “We’ve been taken off air before but never by the Queen herself. It’s an honour.”