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Associated Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mail tabloid in the U.K., has written to ViacomCBS demanding the deletion of “offending content” in Oprah Winfrey’s high-profile interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Lawyers for Associated Newspapers took exception to images in a newspaper headline montage they claim have been altered or misrepresented and demanded they be edited out of the TV special.
“As a responsible broadcaster with integrity we believe therefore that you will deprecate, as we do, the deliberate distortion and doctoring of newspaper headlines in the misleading montage of British newspapers broadcast in ‘Oprah with Meghan and Harry’. Many of the headlines have been either taken out of context or deliberately edited and displayed as supporting evidence for the programme’s claim that the Duchess of Sussex was subjected to racist coverage by the British press,” Associated Newspapers group legal director Elizabeth Hartley wrote.
“I should be grateful for your urgent confirmation that the offending content will be removed from the programme currently being made available to the public. We also understand that a further broadcast is being planned tonight. The montage should therefore be deleted prior to that broadcast,” Hartley added.
Representatives for ViacomCBS were not available for comment. On March 13, Associated Newspapers in response to a statement from Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions that defended the CBS broadcast repeated its demand for deletions in a second letter to CBS.
“We have noted the tweet released by Harpo Productions which concludes, with remarkable insouciance, ‘We stand by the broadcast in its entirety,’ but also the continued silence and inactivity on the part of ViacomCBS,” Associated Newspapers’ Hartley said in a March 13 letter obtained by THR.
“To state the obvious, if you fail to take action to comply with your own standards you will in effect have undermined the credibility of your content, the rigor of your compliance with your own standards and provided misinformation to millions of viewers worldwide,” she continued.
At the same time, Hartley stopped short of threatening legal action, while she did add: “This is not an issue which is going to go away.”
The two-hour CBS primetime special, titled Oprah With Meghan and Harry, where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex sat down for their first in-depth television interview, debuted March 7. In the interview, Winfrey first speaks one-on-one with Markle about why the Sussexes stepped away from royal life, her marriage to the prince and her philanthropic work, as well as the intense press scrutiny and public pressures the couple have faced.
Prince Harry joins the interview later, and the couple talk about their move to the U.S. and their plans for the future, as well as making allusions to the difficulties both Markle and Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, faced with press scrutiny.
March 13, 11 a.m. Updated with a second letter from Associated Newspapers sent to ViacomCBS.
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