August 14

The Queen, the BBC and Australian TV




The Queen has instructed her lawyers to take action over the way a BBC programme trailer misrepresented her by suggesting she had stormed out of a photo shoot, according to a report by Andrew Alderson in the Sunday Telegraph on 14 August, 2007.  The clip shown  was one actually showing The Queen on the way to the photo shoot.  As we reported in this column on 14 July, 2007, the BBC apologised to The Queen about this. Although the firm to which the BBC had outsourced the production later admitted the manipulation, the controller of BBC1, Peter Fincham, presented the manipulated footage to journalists at the launch of BBC1's autumn schedule.  He did this with the comment, “The Queen lost it a bit and left in a huff.”  Although the BBC says it was unaware at the time of the manipulation, he should obviously have verified the alleged incident from those many present for the shoot. As we said in this column, this was the lesson from the inquiry by Lord Hutton. The BBC was also criticised for delaying the apology while the damaging and uncorrected report circled the globe. Mark Stephens, a senior media lawyer with The Queen’s solicitors, believes the Queen has a strong case for breach of contract.  "The Queen agreed to appear in a programme subject to standard editorial guidelines and controls," he said. "The editorial standards of the BBC require them not to present a false picture. If they do portray someone in a false light, they have breached their contract." Mr Stephens said the Queen would also have grounds for taking action for defamation because the trailer had damaged her reputation. "A programme wrongly portraying the Queen as having a 'hissy fit' because she had been asked not to wear a tiara, or whatever nonsense, is clearly defamatory," he said.  
Withour doubt, the programme has been tainted by the BBC’s actions, which triggered further exposures of fabrications in other programmes (see this column on 26 July, 2007) The programme should be abandoned , or at the very minimum, the Palace would need to see and approve of it in its entirety.


In the meantime, the broadcast on 13 August,2007 across Australia by Channel 9 of the programme “The Queen’s Castle,” turned out to be a repeat, although it was billed as a “series return.”  For some reason, Channel 9’s decision to re-broadcast the series was made so late that at least one Sunday newspaper’s TV programme still said that a programme from the series “What a Year” was to be broadcast at that time. Notwithstanding that few people would have known about the programme and the fact that it turned out to be a repeat, “The Queen’s Castle” still attracted some 787,000 viewers across the capital cities. These viewers would have missed Kerry O’Brien filmed in an angry moment on the ABC’s flagship 730 Report, which attracted 661,000 viewers. One of our readers suggests we ask Channel 9 to broadcast Trooping the Colour. After all German audiences had more than one opportunity to see this, and they live in a republic. ( See this column, 2 August, 2007) We have been pointing out for some time that Royal programmes rate very well, and are probably not expensive to acquire. Channel 9 is at 24 Artarmon Rd Willoughby 2068, phone (02) 9906 9999.     


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