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Jun 21 2010

Swedish state television FAIL

It feels like the entire country is moving a little slowly today. I suspect it's because large parts of Sweden are still nursing a hangover from the nationwide party that was the Royal Wedding Weekend.

What's that you say, American and European readers? You didn't see any news coverage of the most significant internationally newsworthy event in Sweden since Barack Obama came over to claim his Nobel Peace Prize? (Okay, so technically that was in Norway, but since Sweden gives out some Nobel Prizes, too, it was definitely big news here.)

If you missed it, that may be because the Associated Press, Reuters and AFP all boycotted the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling due to a dispute over usage rights for video provided by SVT, Sweden's state-run TV network. (Think of it as the viking version of PBS.)

Evidently SVT, which had the only cameras inside the church and the palace reception, imposed unusually limiting restrictions on when the video could be distributed outside Sweden (in some markets, as much as 24 hours *after* the event) and on how long it could be used (just 48 hours). The dispute, as I understand it, was that SVT sold video rights as though the wedding were a commercially-sponsored sports or entertainment event, rather than a newsworthy state event of national and social significance.

The news agencies (quite rightly, in my opinion) balked at this and filed a formal protest with the Swedish royal palace, which declined to intervene. And when SVT wouldn't budge on the video issue, three of the largest international news agencies in the world pulled the plug on ALL their coverage, including text articles and still images.

So thanks to SVT, (which is financed entirely by Swedish tax money and licensing fees charged to Swedish households with TVs, BTW) a historic and culturally significant event capable of generating global interest and positive publicity for the country was subject to a news blackout in much of North America (where the idea of a heredity monarchy still charms) and large parts of Europe.

It's hard to imagine a more stupid move on the part of a publicly-funded media operation. Then again, this is Swedish TV we're talking about.

On second thought, never mind. 

Feed my ego!

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