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French plan to charge for video feed could deprive veterans of chance to see D-Day commemoration

By William Turvill

News agencies Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Associated Press and ENEX have challenged the “incomprehensible” fees being asked of them to share footage of the 70th anniversary commemorations of D-Day in Normandy.

Public broadcaster France Televisions and private station TF1 have been given exclusive live rights to the 6 June service and are seeking 200,000 euros (more than £160,000) from agencies across the world for the rights to re-transmit the footage live, including on the internet. Agencies have to pay £26,000 each to re-transmit the day’s coverage.

The agencies have said the commemorations, to be attended by 19 heads of state and government, including the Queen and US president Barack Obama, should be free for them to re-transmit.

According to AFP, French president Francois Hollande (pictured, Reuters) initially indicated there would be no fee, but later went back on this, allowing the French broadcasters to charge.

The agencies have argued that D-Day veterans unable to travel to Normandy could be among those deprived of the opportunity to watch the ceremonies.

"The restrictions imposed on the international agencies for the coverage of the D-Day commemorations are incomprehensible," said Philippe Massonnet, AFP's global news director.

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"The commercialisation of this historic event is shocking."

AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll added: "We are dismayed that the Elysee Palace is denying the Associated Press and other international news agencies fair access to live broadcast coverage of D-Day commemorations, which will be attended by world leaders and hundreds of veterans.

"By granting access to only a few select channels and charging prohibitive sums, millions of viewers around the world will be unable to witness this historic, global event, the solemnity of which will reflect the commitment of an international array of forces 70 years ago."

AP, AFP and Reuters have lodged a formal protest but have warned their clients that they may be unable to provide the live footage.

According to AFP, the two stations and the French presidency have pointed out that footage of the commemorations will be available across the world.

The presidency said on Friday that "all viewers around the world would have direct access and in totality to all the images of the June 6 ceremonies".

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