News groups protest commercialization of D-Day

What’s the point of a world war if you can’t make a little money?

Next week, France will recognize the 70th anniversary of D-Day — a day when foreign troops helped saved France — and the country’s broadcasters aren’t allowing free coverage of it.

The Associated Press reports France has awarded exclusive broadcast rights to two French broadcast networks, who are charging for anyone else to broadcast the ceremonies.

The French host broadcasters, France Televisions and TF1, are demanding that global news providers AP, AFP, Reuters and ENEX pay nearly 200,000 euros ($265,000) collectively for live broadcast and online streaming coverage of the official ceremonies, which feature at least 18 heads of state.

The French networks are providing coverage free to European state broadcasters, who belong to the 100-member European Broadcasting Union consortium.

AP, Reuters, AFP and ENEX together represent over 1,500 broadcasters and thousands of digital platforms.

The four agencies have protested the decision, calling for all news organizations to be granted free access to live coverage of an event of global importance, as has been common practice at similar events elsewhere.

“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,” said Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president and executive editor of AP.

“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,” Carroll said. “We believe the Elysee and its French broadcast partners should allow free and unrestricted access to all newsgathering organizations.”

“The commercialization of this historic event is shocking,” Agence France-Presse said. “We hope that the presidency of the French republic will allow agencies the right to film and distribute the event live under conditions that are acceptable and in conformity with the spirit of freedom that these ceremonies represent.”