Networks ho-hum over royal nuptials

June 19, 1999|By Richard Huff | Richard Huff,NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Today's nuptials of Britain's Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones will draw lots of coverage, but not the castle-load of attention that was given to the 1981 union of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

Far fewer networks will be offering live coverage of this royal wedding. Steep fees charged by the BBC to license the footage are being blamed for keeping at least some networks away, while a general sense of "So what!" is also to blame.

ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN are expected to air coverage in their regular news programs, but only MSNBC, the Fox News Channel, the Learning Channel and BBC America plan to cover the event as it unfolds.

That stands in stark contrast to Charles and Diana's big moment, which aired live virtually everywhere and then was repeated endlessly. Tens of millions of people tuned in to watch that storybook wedding.

Network sources said that the BBC, which has the exclusive camera rights to the Edward-Sophie wedding, was asking a high price for access to the footage. MSNBC is said to be spending $50,000.

The BBC is selling its exclusive coverage at the request of the royal family and "it's going into a trust that will go to a charity of the couple's choice," a spokeswoman for the company said.

"There was really no interest in the wedding," an ABC News spokeswoman said. "It's the fourth such wedding. He is not the heir to the throne. He's chosen to live a normal life." ABC will cover the wedding as a common news story, as will its broadcast competitors.

Those that are covering the wedding live will do so starting at 11 a.m. today with the arrival of guests at St. George's Chapel in Windsor.

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