Battle royal for TV rights to Diana concert


The announcement Tuesday that Prince William and Prince Harry are organizing a pop concert to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of their mother, Princess Diana, is set to prompt an all-out bidding frenzy among broadcasters for U.K. and international television rights.

The Concert for Diana, slated for July 1, will feature a slew of the late princess' favorite acts, including Elton John, Duran Duran and Bryan Ferry.

The show will be held at the new Wembley Stadium, which opens next year and will seat more than 75,000, and feature a medley of songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber and performances from the English National Ballet, Joss Stone and acts "yet to be announced."

The event — which takes place on what would have been the princess' 46th birthday — will be filmed by outdoor events giant Live Nation (formerly Clear Channel Entertainment). The company has tendered out the U.K. and international television rights and will announce the broadcasters selected early next year.

"We're organizing the filming so the setup won't (require) that broadcasters have their own cameras. A decision on rights will be made in January," a Live Nation spokesman said.

Traditionally, the BBC has been the broadcaster of choice for major events like the concert in the Mall to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee, which was watched by an audience of more than 200 million worldwide and broadcast in more than 50 countries.

But ITV recently has struck a series of royal coups, including unprecedented access to the two young princes and their father to celebrate 30 years of Prince Charles' charity, the Prince's Trust, culminating in an exclusive interview with ITV entertainment hosts Ant and Dec.

A BBC spokeswoman said the pubcaster was "tremendously excited" about potentially broadcasting the concert. "We think it is a very exciting project and are talking to the organizers about potentially being the U.K. broadcast partner," she said.

ITV and the Five channel also are thought to be in talks to host the event.

Prince William and Prince Harry are helping to organize the concert and are chairing an advisory board made up of senior figures from the worlds of media, entertainment and leisure, including Lucian Grainge, chairman and chief executive of Universal Music International, and Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre.

A separate, formal church memorial service will be held Aug. 31 in London to be attended by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and other members of the royal family.

Announcing his and his brother's plans for a commemoration of their mother's life, Prince William said the concert will represent the princess' sense of fun.

"(Harry and I) both wanted to put our stamp on it. We want it to represent exactly what our mother would have wanted," he said in a statement issued by Clarence House. "So, therefore, the church service alone isn't enough. We wanted to have this big concert full of energy, full of the sort of fun and happiness, which I know she would have wanted. And on her birthday as well, it's got to be the best birthday present she ever had."

Added Prince Harry: "The (church) service is going to include both sides of the family, our mother's side and our father's side — everyone getting together. It should be a good occasion."

Proceeds from the concert will go to charities that were supported by the princess during her life and to two of the princes' own charities, Centrepoint and Sentebale.

The princess' charities that will benefit are the Diana Memorial Fund, which was set up in her memory, and five charities of which she was patron at the time of her death: the Royal Marsden Hospital, the National Aids Trust, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Leprosy Mission and the English National Ballet.