May 30, 2014 at 1:00 am

France to charge outlets for access to D-Day anniversary

Paris— Millions of viewers worldwide could miss live coverage of the commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion next week because the French president’s office reversed a decision to grant international news agencies free access to the broadcast.

The administration of Francois Hollande has handed two French broadcast networks exclusive rights to the main international ceremony, and they are now imposing sports-style syndication fees on global news agencies, satellite and cable news channels, and online news outlets.

The French host broadcasters, France Televisions and TF1, are demanding that global news providers AP, AFP, Reuters and ENEX pay nearly $265,000 collectively for live broadcast and online streaming coverage of the official ceremonies, which feature at least 18 heads of state.

The French networks are providing coverage free to European state broadcasters, who belong to the 100-member European Broadcasting Union consortium.

AP, Reuters, AFP and ENEX together represent more than 1,500 broadcasters and thousands of digital platforms.

The four agencies have protested the decision, calling for all news organizations to be granted free access to live coverage of an event of global importance, as has been common practice at similar events elsewhere.

“We are dismayed that the Elysee Palace is denying the Associated Press and other international news agencies fair access to live broadcast coverage of D-Day commemorations, which will be attended by world leaders and hundreds of veterans,” said Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president and executive editor of AP.

“By granting access to only a few select channels and charging prohibitive sums, millions of viewers around the world will be unable to witness this historic, global event, the solemnity of which will reflect the commitment of an international array of forces 70 years ago,” Carroll said.

The global news director of Agence France-Presse, Philippe Massonnet, called the restrictions “incomprehensible.”

“The commercialization of this historic event is shocking,” he said.