The ABC has been forced to cancel Friday night’s alternative coverage of the Royal Wedding by The Chaser on ABC2 after a ruling from the office of the Royal Family.
According to the announcement from the ABC, conditions of its use of live footage of the wedding were tightened up over the Easter break, including a ban on the use of the material for the purposes of satire or comedy.
The ABC’s original plan was to feature The Chaser’s commentary on ABC2 while rebroadcasting the BBC’s coverage on ABC1
Instead, the approved commentary will go ahead on ABC1, while ABC2 will switched to a royal wedding themed night including:
- 7-7.30pm Spicks and Specks Britannia Special
- 7.30-8.30pm Royle Family Xmas special 2008
- 8.30-10.30pm The Chaser’s War on Everything
According to the ABC:
“ABC TV has reluctantly cancelled its widely promoted program The Chaser’s Royal Wedding Commentary because restrictions imposed over Easter, make it impossible to deliver its planned ABC2 live coverage of the event. ABC TV had initially been advised by the BBC and subsequently by the news agency Associated Press Television News (APTN) there were no coverage restrictions that would prevent The Chaser‟s wedding commentary.
“However, the 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 said the restrictions on the coverage of the wedding ceremony from Westminster Abbey had been agreed between Clarence House, the private office of the Prince of Wales and the BBC.”
Kim Dalton, director of ABC TV, said: “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.”
Dalton suggested that Nine and Ten’s plans might also be affected. He said: “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.”
However, Nine and Ten both told Mumbrella that the ABC’s probelms had not changed their plans.
A spokesman for Ten said: “We’re proceeding with our wedding programming as planned. While certainly light hearted our coverage will be respectful. Respected British journo Lucy McDonald will be joining Fitzy and Wippa in commentary duties.”
And Nine’s Mark Calvert, director of news and current affairs, said in a statement: “There’s nothing in the restrictions which will alter our coverage. Dame Edna will be with us before and after the ceremony. But during the actual nuptials, she’ll be dashing to the Abbey to take her seat as a guest of the happy couple. Dame Edna is Australian royalty, so we’re honoured that she’s agreed to juggle her commitment to the Windsors with her love of Channel Nine.”
The axing of the Chaser wedding is the second time the ABC has taken The Chaser off the air. The Chaser’s War On Everything was suspended for two episodes in 2009 after its infamous dying kids sketch.
In the ABC’s statement, The Chaser‟s Chris Taylor said: “We’ve been taken off air before but never by the Queen herself. It’s an honour.”
And The Chaser’s Julian Morrow added: “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 also published a letter to the Queen aimed at persuading her to change her mind: