Channel 4 News reportedly cancelled an interview with Prince Charles after being asked to sign a contract with “North Korea"-style conditions.
The Independent has today reported the Prince of Wales’s 15-page media contract states that he should have advance knowedge of precise questions and interviewers "may solely ask questions" previously approved by Clarence House. It also states that the Prince has the right to oversee editing and the power to block a broadcast altogether if he does not approve of the final product.
The newspaper reports that the Prince will only speak to broadcasters if a contract is signed. This, it reports, led to the cancellation of an interview due to be conducted by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow on Sunday.
The Independent reported that “several news broadcasters”, including Sky News which ran an interview with the Prince last month, "have agreed to pre-interview contracts”. It noted that he has also spoken to the BBC and CNN this year, although both said they had editorial control.
The newspaper said the contracts "are customised according to the media project".
A Clarence House spokesperson said: "The issuing of broadcast contracts is standard practice across the Royal Households. The Prince of Wales receives hundreds of requests for interviews from media organisations around the world. No media organisation is under any obligation to approach The Prince of Wales for an interview or enter into a contract negotiation. All broadcasters that do, 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."
A source told The Independent the news control was reminiscent of North Korea and that similar contracts would be accepted from other senior figures.
In an interview with Press Gazette last year, Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear spoke of the importance of not compromising editorial freedom by agreeing not to ask certain questions.
He described this as one of the "guiding principles" of the ITN programme but suggested the same standards are not upheld elsewhere in UK broadcasting.
De Pear said: "Recently, there have been examples of interviews being bagged and you’d see them avoiding the main questions."