Apparently Ball-less Corporation caves to Clarence House

The ABC is supposed to be an independent public broadcaster. So is the BBC. And yet the royal family – our royal family, still – can apparently exert so much pressure over the two public broadcasters that they will cancel a program that might satirise a public event:

New wedding coverage conditions issued over the Easter break state that footage cannot be used “in any drama, comedy, satirical or similar entertainment program or content”.

The restrictions were agreed between Clarence House, the private office of the Prince of Wales, and the BBC.

With the consequence that, in Australia:

The Chaser’s Royal Wedding Commentary was due to air on ABC2 from 7:00pm AEST on Friday, offering viewers a satirical take on the royal extravaganza.

But just two days before Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot, the one-off live special – promised to be “uninformed and unconstitutional” – has been cancelled due to restrictions imposed by the royal family.

Oooh. Because the BBC has control over all footage of central London taken on Friday.

There will be no other people around here with video cameras on Friday

I don’t care whether The Chaser are still funny – that’s not the point. The point is the extraordinary attempt to impose control over a public broadcaster in relation to a public event, and its craven caving to that pressure. Oh, the BBC threatened to refuse to let you use its wedding footage? So bloody what! It’s being broadcast on every other bloody channel. Call their bluff! Go in much harder! Have some bloody balls!

The ABC’s credibility as an independent and fearless media organisation is at stake here. Because if the pathetic would-be autocrats in Clarence House can get this sort of leverage by threatening to withhold footage of something that’s going to be on every Australian TV channel anyway, then what will the really powerful get away with when they’ve got some serious leverage to wield?

ELSEWHERE: Joshua Gans is likewise unimpressed.

11 responses to “Apparently Ball-less Corporation caves to Clarence House

  1. Splatterbottom

    The ABC doesn’t seem to have any choice about letting the Chasers use the footage. Still it is fodder for comedians everywhere. This childish action may limit satire on the night but has provided fodder for years to come, and the sensitivity disclosed by this is an invitation for comedians to do their worst.

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  3. Were the Windsor’s obliged to allow the media into the ceremony?



  5. morganzobean

    We are not amused.

  6. I’m so sick of the wedding – any coverage, even comedic, is too much. How many millions of dollars are Australian media outfits and our government spending on this? (The ABC is funded out of our pockets after all). How many flood and cyclone-damaged properties could be fixed with that money instead? What programs are going to be cut in the Budget to pay for it and keep the surplus?

    If the Windors want their private wedding broadcast to the world, let them pay for it out of their own pocket – Joe and Jane Public don’t get this kind of free coverage at their wedding. Thank the FSM for the SCIFI channel or I’d go completely nuts this week. Bah, humbug! Viva la republic!

  7. Möbius Ecko

    Meanwhile on Channel 9 Barry Humphries alter ego will be waxing satirical on the wedding unabated as will the comedians on Channel 10’s 7PM Project.

    Seems Clarence House only have a problem with The Chasers and no other comedians in the world.

  8. Seems Clarence House only have a problem with The Chasers and no other comedians (sic) in the world.

    Yes, that’s the point. It’s their property and they can close it off to whoever gives them the shits. And they’re doing us a favour, quite frankly.

  9. narcoticmusing

    It appears that the other stations are sourcing their own footage and thus can do with it as they will – there is no property in the public spectacle itself but the footage certainly is property. While I abhore the acts of Clarence House censoring free speech, I am glad the ABC capitulated if it means they don’t waste a whole bunch of money funding an alternative source of footage just for a comedy show.

  10. You would think the poor old Poms would have better things to do than involve themselves in this show of outrageous waste of money. Let the play begin, bread and circus’s indeed. Not bad when you consider the old dart is on the verge of bankruptcy. I wonder if the Sloan rangers will be attending?

    Is all we need is the Argentinians to have another crack at the Falklands, and the old Poms will dead set wet themselves with glee.

    By next week we will all know if the Queen takes one or two sugars in her afternoon tiffin, if she has mayonnaise on her cucumber sandwiches, and if one of the corgi’s farted under the table with the wedding cake on it.

    “Rule Britannia” Yawnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

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