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Channel 4 News turns down interview with Prince Charles

British broadcaster Channel 4 News has turned down an interview with the Prince of Wales after refusing to sign what it calls a “draconian contract”.

Clarence House reportedly offered Channel 4 an interview, as long as they agreed to the terms of a contract which he presented to them, which included the pre-vetting of all questions and right to control editing.

The tight level of control and censorship has unsurprisingly caused controversy in the world of news with some critics saying the 67-year-old Prince’s demands restrict a free press.

Other broadcasters however, have aired interviews with the Prince in recent times, the most recent being last month when Sky News broadcast an half hour interview with His Royal Highness talking about issues including global warming.

Sky News has not commented on their decision to sign the contract, if indeed they did, but Channel 4 News refused to adhere to the terms stated out in the 15 page document. The ITN produced broadcaster were originally going to interview the Prince at the British ambassador’s residence in Paris on Sunday, the day before the Paris climate change talks.

Channel 4 News has not commented on the matter but it is not believed to be the first time that the news organisation has refused to interview a guest who puts heavy restrictions into place.

A Clarence House spokesperson has said that other members of the Royal Family have used similar contracts in the past.

“The issuing of broadcast contracts is standard practice across the royal households,” they continued. “All broadcasters who enter into them are keen to ensure that they do not breach any of the relevant broadcast rules and go to great lengths to protect their independence in this regard. The contracts are put in place to ensure factual accuracy and protect the broadcaster as well as the interview subject”.

It is not uncommon for public figures to use such contracts as the Prince of Wales.

As uncovered by the Independent, the terms of the contract included:

  • The Interviewer may solely ask a set of questions mutually agreed between Clarence House and the news organisation.
  • A representative of Clarence House shall be permitted to view the Programme prior to broadcast at the final “rough cut” stage.
  • Any issues concerning matters of fairness, balance, confidentiality or security or concerns about religious, political or racial sensitivities may be raised by the representative of Clarence House.
  • A representative of Clarence House shall also be permitted to view the Programme at the “fine cut” stage prior to the first transmission of the Programme (and in good time should any changes be required).
  • The news organisation shall provide a copy of the final transmission version of the Programme to the staff at Clarence House, prior to… broadcast and Clarence House shall be entitled to require [the news organisation] to remove [Prince Charles’s] Contribution in its entirety from the Programme
  • Prior approval is required for all trailers, press releases and other promotional material in relation to the Programme
  •  Prior approval is required for the identity of any interviewees or contributors to the Programme other than HRH
  • The news organisation will stop filming immediately if reasonably requested to do so at any time by Clarence House
  • The news organisation shall have no right to use or exploit in any form whatsoever any of the material recorded immediately around the interruption in filming
  • The news organisation shall share with Clarence House its proposed marketing, press and publicity
  • The news organisation shall keep in strictest confidence and not at any time disclose publish or reveal at any time hereafter, either personally or by means of press or publicity or advertising agencies, or by means of any social networking sites, chat rooms or otherwise by supplying information to any website, without Clarence House’s prior written approval, the footage recorded… or details of or material relating to any incident, conversation or information concerning HRH, the Royal Family or Clarence House or any other confidential information.

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