Nobel dumps TV4 over China censorship

Freedom of expression speech suppressed

STOCKHOLM -- The Nobel Foundation Friday dropped TV4 as carrier for its annual prize ceremony, saying the Swedish broadcaster had let Chinese television censor a speech on freedom of expression, a Swedish newspaper said.

Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter said TV4, which has the rights to broadcast the annual ceremony, had allowed Chinese television stations to censor Nobel Foundation Chairman Marcus Storch's words at last year's ceremony extolling liberty of speech and the media.

"Censorship is against our values. We cannot accept that," Michael Sohlman, Nobel Foundation managing director, told the newspaper.

Dagens Nyheter cited Sohlman as saying the Nobel broadcast was governed by a contract between Nobel Media and TV4 with terms tough enough to make it impossible to censor.

TV4 said Chinese broadcasters that carried the ceremony -- China Central Television and Shanghai Media Group -- appeared to have breached the terms of their agreements with the broadcaster.

"Nobel Media has decided that TV4, through their broadcast agreements with television companies in China, set aside their obligation under their contract with Nobel Media," TV4 said in a statement in Swedish on its Web site.

"But (TV4) does not share Nobel Media's opinion that this is grounds for ending the contract between TV4 and Nobel Media," the broadcaster added.