EXCLUSIVE: Major media agencies Getty, AP and Reuters held impromptu talks with the Venice Film Festival yesterday about ‘unprecedented’ new restrictions on them on red carpets and at press conferences.
We understand agencies have been frustrated with new broadcast regulations that limit the footage they can use from the red carpet to 90 seconds and their ability to film at press conferences.
The restrictions are in place for all accredited TV outlets, not just agencies, so every accredited broadcaster on the red carpet had to sign a waiver to gain access.
Agencies, which perform a vital function at festivals, have been told by organizers that the restrictions are due to ‘new laws’, but the companies say they were not told beforehand of the stipulations that affected them clearly disadvantaged and may doubt their future attendance at the Lido. The festival declined to comment when we reached out.
The changes were revealed shortly after the festival signed a new deal with Italian broadcaster Rai (including increased access to the red carpet and press conference). Rai attended the meeting with the agencies yesterday morning, along with the general director of the Venice Film Festival, Andrea Del Mercato, and a lawyer.
We caught wind of the frustrations earlier this week. When we contacted one of the agencies, a reporter on the other side of the talks told us, “We are shocked. We have been coming here for over 10 years and this is the first time this has happened. This hasn’t happened at any other major festival. It’s a form of censorship. How are we supposed to tell the story of a press conference in 90 seconds from pool footage? We are aware that there have been discussions over the summer with the European Broadcasting Union about potential changes, but we have not received any communication about the changes on the ground.
An agency told us that the festival had recommended that they buy more Rai footage, which they had never had to do in the past.
The changes have led agencies to question their place at the festival, where their footage has been used by hundreds of international broadcasters for years.
“It negates our purpose for being here,” one of the agencies told us. “All our partners are confused. We are contacted by clients who are frustrated with the lack of images they receive from us. We are in consultation with our lawyers on our next steps.
There could also be a more direct ripple effect for films and talent. “A senior communications executive told us that while their talent and films get limited exposure on Venice red carpets and press conferences, they would have to hold separate, independent press conferences elsewhere in the future. the Lido.”
We also contacted the European Broadcasting Union, which mediates negotiations between agencies, broadcasters and festivals.