Four news services, including The Associated Press, are refusing to pay a $1,200 fee imposed by NBC for photographs taken by the network inside the ballroom during the Golden Globe Awards.
The director of photography for NBC Universal Television Entertainment, Eric van der Werff, sent an e-mail Monday to AP, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Getty News Service and WireImage. It said that NBC imposed the fee because it bought a new computer server and is providing technical support for distribution of the "handout" photos.
The Golden Globes, airing Monday night on NBC, are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which has a long-standing rule of allowing only one NBC photographer inside the ballroom. This year the NBC photographer is Paul Drinkwater.
Of the five affected agencies, only WireImage had paid the fee by Friday.
The network is in the fifth year of a 10-year, multimillion-dollar contract with the HFPA to broadcast the event. NBC paid $14.2 million for the 2004 telecast, which drew 26.8 million U.S. viewers.
"We feel strongly that as the Golden Globe Awards show is an event of high public interest around the world, news agencies should be allowed independent access to the ceremony, as we are at other major award ceremonies," said Santiago Lyon, AP's director of photography.
AP has used the handouts free of charge in the past, but will not use them this year. AP and other news services planned to illustrate this year's ceremony with their own photos of the red carpet arrivals scene and the offstage press room, where winners meet the media after receiving awards.
This was the third time this season the AP and other news agencies refused to accept handout photos of an award show. Both the Billboard Music Awards and the Radio Music Awards imposed restrictions unacceptable to the agencies.
Tom Stathis, AP's regional photo editor for the West, added that the NBC handout photographs come with troubling restrictions -- they cannot be sold, resold or stored in archives, for example.
"AP has never been happy with accepting handouts from the show when we have access for our own photographers for every other major awards show," Stathis said.
Deb Trevino, a spokeswoman for Getty, said it was very unusual to be asked to pay a fee to distribute handout photos.
"It's not a precedent that we want set and that we wanted to support," she said.
Officials at Reuters, Agence France-Presse and WireImage were not available for comment Friday afternoon.
NBC's van der Werff told The AP in a telephone interview that the fee was imposed only to recover the costs of the computer server and support staff.