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News agencies boycott key Cannes press conference

Latest update : 2010-04-15

International news agencies including AFP announced a boycott Wednesday of a key press conference connected to the Cannes Film Festival. This follows a dispute triggered by a sharp restriction on video news-gathering of the festival.

AFP - International news agencies locked in a TV rights row with Cannes film festival organisers announced a boycott Wednesday of one of the cinema world's key events -- the list of movies selected to screen at the filmfest.
Agence France-Presse, Reuters, AP and Getty TV will boycott the festival's Paris press conference Thursday, held to announce the score of movies selected from across the world to screen at this year's May 12-23 event.
Less than a month before the opening of the world's premier festival, the snub is the latest chapter in a weeks-long dispute triggered by the festival's decision to sharply restrict video news-gathering for the first time in its 63 years of history.
"We have decided to boycott this conference due to these restrictions," said AFP's global news director Philippe Massonnet.
There was no immediate comment from the festival.
The new limitations, linked to a contract signed by the festival with French broadcaster Canal Plus and pay-TV service Orange, severely limit video coverage of official press conferences and red carpet events.
"If these restrictions, which we have not been informed of officially, were upheld, they would be unacceptable. They would penalise many media subscribers of the agencies the world over," Massonnet said.
Agencies were told verbally late March that their video coverage would be reduced to two minutes per day in total, made up of maximum 30-second segments from the red carpet or press conferences.
This year's festival is to open with Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood" and US director Tim Burton is to head the jury that will award the best film prize, the Palme d'Or.
The news agencies told clients in an advisory this month that the proposed restrictions "would dramatically reduce the agencies' ability to provide subscribers with an adequate audiovisual record of public events at the festival."
Talks have been held with festival organisers since February, with the agencies stating that the festival is "clearly an event of public interest" that focuses not only on film but on celebrities whose "actions and opinions have an enormous influence on public life".
AFPTV chief editor Christine Buhagiar said that "the situation is extremely serious as many countries, whose networks do not have the means to cover Cannes, will no longer have images of the festival."
A similar row is currently raging in India over the broadcast of the glitzy Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament. Other battles between media and organisers have hit rugby and football as well as cricket.
The Cannes festival says on its website that its budget amounts to approximately 20 million euros, half from public funding via the National Cinema Centre (CNC) under the authority of the French culture ministry, the City of Cannes and other local authorities.
"This financing is completed by contributions from a number of professional and institutional groups along with the Festival's official partners," it says.

Date created : 2010-04-15