Entertainment & Arts

Sky News to produce Queen's Christmas message

The Queen
Image caption The Queen's speech reflects on the past year's events and also looks forward

The Queen's annual Christmas Day message is to be produced by Sky News for the next two years, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.

In recent years, the responsibility had been shared by the BBC and ITV.

From this year, each broadcaster will share the role of producing the message on a two year cycle.

Simon Cole, from Sky News, said it was a "great honour" to be part of the traditional address.

"Sky News approached Buckingham Palace last year and are thrilled to be part of the Queen's Christmas broadcast," he said.

ITV produced The Queen's Christmas Broadcast last year and in 2009. The BBC produced it the previous two years.

The next two years will see the royal marriages of Prince William to Kate Middleton and Zara Phillips to rugby player Mike Tindall, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Shared responsibility

The message was produced solely by the BBC from when King George V spoke to the Empire in 1932 until 1997, when it was first produced by ITV.

It was reported the BBC was being punished for screening Princess Diana's famous Panorama interview in 1995, which was not sanctioned by Buckingham palace.

But that was denied by the palace which said the new arrangements "reflect the composition of the television and radio industries today".

Palace officials described Sky - partly owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation - as a serious broadcaster with a global reach.

In 2006, Prince Philip once spoke about what he called Mr Murdoch's "anti-establishment attitude", telling the BBC it had "really pulled the plug on an awful lot of things that we hold to be quite reasonable and sensible institutions."

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