Saturday, April 30, 2011

Millions watch royal wedding, others try

Millions around the world tuned in to watch the Royal Wedding in Britain though coverage varied depending where you were located.

For viewers in Britain there was saturation coverage with the BBC beginning early in the morning. CNN's coverage was described as "extensive" by one commentator on the BBC World Service and Sky News also gave up many hours of air time to the event.

Many networks around the globe had special programming though coverage was often interrupted with studio discussions or advertisements.

In China viewing the royal event was more problematic given the tight restrictions imposed on broadcasters and the few foreign channels available. While BBC World and CNN International are available in China, they are mainly confined to expensive apartment complexes and hotels.

CCTV, China's state broadcaster, and Channel News Asia, which broadcasts from Singapore, are more widely available though both interrupted their special programming with studio discussions. While the actual ceremony itself was shown, as prayers and hymns were sung both channels dropped pictures from inside Westminster Abbey. CCTV News seemed more interested in discussing fashion choices and handbag designs. Channel News Asia even reverted to regular news programming and aired reports of recent skirmishes on the Thai-Cambodia border.

Trying to view the proceedings on the Internet failed for many people. Beijing's Internet is relatively fast, though the BBC site appeared to crash shortly before the service began. Other websites which aired live pictures constantly buffered and displayed messages saying the connection was not fast enough. Listening online in Beijing on the BBC World Service was also a little shaky.

Of course, few in China were immersed in the royal wedding fever which was gripping Britain. There was only one advertised event in Beijing. The Black Sun Bar in the capital's Chaoyang district offered royal watchers British beer such as Boddingtons and Newcastle Brown Ale during the scheduled two hour event. However most expats were more likely to have watched the wedding on CCTV News, while drinking Chinese beer or green tea.

Despite the problems of tuning in, millions around the world watched at least some of the two hour spectacle. Others followed events on Twitter or listened in to online radio broadcasts. For those who missed the event live or experienced technical problems, highlights were quickly posted on many websites including the official Royal YouTube channel. Further coverage was also available in the form of pictures on the official Royal Wedding website as well as on dozens of news websites.

As for newspaper coverage, every newspaper in Britain carried the story on their front page with a picture of the couple kissing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace [Papers: BBC / Sky]. 

Many foreign papers also led with the royal wedding. In France Le Figaro and Aujourd'hui both carried the story on the front page as did many papers across Europe including those from Germany, Finland, Hungary, Italy and Spain. In the US a number of papers hit the news stands with pictures of the Prince and Princess kissing. The LA Times, New York Post and Washington Post being just a few. Further afield coverage was less extensive. While the English language China Daily and Shanghai Daily both ran with the story on their front pages, the royal wedding failed to gain such prominence in Chinese language papers. In Japan only a tiny picture adorned the Mainichi Shimbun Digital while others ignored the wedding altogether.

Australia's Age and Daily Telegraph carried the royal kiss on their front pages, but the Herald Sun pushed what little coverage it ran to the inside pages. Several papers in New Zealand also carried the story on its front pages including the Dominion Post, The Weekend Press and the New Zealand Herald.

There will be further commemorative and special souvenir publications in the coming days. And of course the royal wedding memorabilia will remain on sale for some time. There will be cynics that say the wedding was a waste of money, in times of hardship. Others have suggested it has brought a 'feel good factor' to Britain and that the wedding may even help boost the economy. That remains to be seen, but for one day at least, there was some sense of partying and excitement. 

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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