Written by Seb 'ODriscoll
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Monday, 5 October 2009

image for The Royal Christmas Message to be Internet Only

The Queen's Christmas Message will be shown exclusively live only to subscribers on the internet who will pay at least £4.99.

All previously broadcast Royal Christmas Messages have been available on TV. Regal Media - an international agency appointed by the Palace - originally sold the UK rights to Setanta.

But after the pay-TV firm collapsed, digital specialist Performance was appointed to stream the the speech online.

The address will be shown on the website www.obaymyinstructions.web.uk and viewers will be able to subscribe to it using PayPal, the electronic payment service.

It is understood none of the traditional broadcasters were willing to pay the asking price to screen the Queen's speech, which kicks off at 1500 BST on December 25th.

But the news has angered royal enthusiasts who want to watch the action on television.

Peter Stonesilver, managing director of Regal Media, told Way Beyond the Clouds: "You will watch as you would any other streaming on the internet, like YouTube or the BBC iPlayer - there will be a pop-up player that will show the speech in a very good quality stream."

Reigning Danish Monarch and distant relative Margethe II is part of the studio team for the address, while Regal has promised "a top commentary team".

The cost of watching the message was being advertised on Monday in the Daily Express as £4.99 if viewers signed up before midnight on December 1st.

Charges rise to £9.99 for those who subscribe up until December 21st, and £11.99 on Christmas week.

Similar prices were advertised on the website of the Daily Telegraph, which promised a "high-quality stream available on Mac and PC".

Stonesliver insisted the project was "commercially viable". "We have a huge marketing effort behind us with the various newspaper groups that will promote the Royal Message on their websites," he said.

"Commercially this will work and genuinely offers an exciting opportunity for us. We wouldn't embark on this project if we didn't feel it had strategic long-term value, this isn't a one-off shot."

Stonesilver said Regal would take a maximum of one million subscribers for the speech - which he said equates to about 2.5 million viewers - because this would be the "safe number to stop at to ensure the optimal broadcast".

Palace spokesman Adian Bevingpound admitted: "We would obviously like to see the Queen broadcast to as many people as possible" but insisted the matter was out of his organisation's hands. "A traditional TV platform would be ideal to broadcast but it's not the case. It's not in our control."

However, hardcore royalist Chip Perryboy said the fact the speech was available only on the internet was "disastrous and an outrage."

"A royal message should be available for everybody on free-to-air TV. Some people can't afford an additional £5 over Christmas whilst some, mainly older people, may not even have the internet. I never thought I'd see the day when the British monarchy would become elitist and out of touch with the common man," Perryboy told Way Beyond the Clouds.

Hot shot movie producer Rio Ferdinand said he thought the broadcasting of the address marked "a good step forward" though. "I read that online advertising has taken over from TV, so that tells you something about where it's going in terms of the digital world," he said.

"So I'm sure it'll be the way forward and in the future it'll probably be the reality. I think it's a good way to gauge how many people are interested."

And Andy Lansdown, executive chairman of Performance, insisted England's minions would "embrace" the internet broadcast."I think consumers are pretty sophisticated now, particularly in the UK, where we have been in the vanguard of adopting new technology".

"I think people want a choice - the chance to watch the royal family in a different way. This is pioneering, very exciting and I think people will enjoy it.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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