News agencies boycott Cannes conference over dispute

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The Independent Culture

Major international news agencies Wednesday announced a boycott of a key Cannes film festival press conference due to a dispute over planned restrictions by the festival on video news-gathering.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters, AP and Getty TV will not provide coverage of the festival's yearly press conference in Paris on Thursday to announce the movies selected for this year's event, taking place in Cannes May 12-23.

"We have decided to boycott this conference due to these restrictions," said AFP's global news director Philippe Massonnet.

The boycott follows a decision by festival organisers to put severe restrictions on video news-gathering, limiting the agencies' coverage of red carpet events and news conferences.

The new limitations are linked to a contract signed by the Cannes film festival with French broadcaster Canal Plus and pay-TV service Orange.

"If these restrictions, which we have not been informed of officially, were upheld they would be unacceptable. They would penalise many media subscribers of the agencies the world over," Massonnet said.

This year's festival is to open with Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood" and US director Tim Burton is to head the jury which will award the best film prize.

The news agencies told clients in an advisory this month that the proposed restrictions "would dramatically reduce the agencies' ability to provide subscribers with an adequate audiovisual record of public events at the festival."

Talks have been held with festival organisers since February, with the agencies stating that the festival is "clearly an event of public interest" that focuses not only on film but on celebrities whose "actions and opinions have an enormous influence on public life".

The festival, which has been held since 1946, says it is "modernising its corporate identity".