PA adds its voice to concerns about BBC video sharing

The Press Association has become the latest media organisation to raise fears the BBC’s deal to share video content with newspapers could harm the activities of commercial groups.

The national news agency said it was ‘surprised and disappointed’by the BBC’s announcement of its plans to make its video content available to the news market.

The agency’s concerns come as News International said it rejected the deal taken up by four other national newspaper publishers because of the conditions it imposed.

PA, which launched its own video newswire service for newspapers earlier this year, said it had raised its concerns formally with the BBCTrust before yesterday’s announcement that the corporation was pushing ahead with its plan.

A spokeswoman for PA said: “[We] understood the discussions we were encouraged to have with the BBC’s executive would be a meaningful consultation about the market impact of its proposals.

“The BBC’s announcement pre-empts the conclusion of this process and we will be seeking urgent clarification from the BBC Trust.”

ITN said yesterday the deal allowing the BBC to supply a limited amount of footage in four key subject areas – UK politics, health, business and science and technology – to newspaper sites risked undermining the demand for content from independent news providers and risked “pulling the rug from under us”.

The PA spokeswoman added: “We have consistently argued that content dumping by a publicly-funded broadcaster distorts the market and undermines the investment in video by commercial providers, such as the Press Association.

“There are other constructive ways in which the BBC can work collaboratively without the risk of damaging the businesses of other media players such as sharing its facilities and audience research.”

Four newspaper groups took up the BBC deal yesterday: Telegraph Media Group, Independent News & Media, Guardian News & Media and Daily Mail & General Trust.

Under the terms of the partnership newspaper sites agreed that BBC video would not be connected to any advertising. Instead it will carry BBC branding and access will be restricted to UK viewers.

Those restrictions have not been welcomed by all newspaper publishers. According to reports this morning, News International, owner of the Sun and the Times, rejected the proposal because it involved “onerous marketing conditions” that promoted the corporation.

A News International spokeswoman told Guardian.co.uk the assertion that content would be free was false as use of the video would be providing “marketing for the BBC at no cost”.

The BBC said in a statement: “The BBC’s content is complementary to the sort of content and services provided by ITN and others. This is about the BBC sharing our online video news content in specific public service genres.

“We are simply allowing newspapers to embed BBC branded content we have already produced and published on BBC Online – we are not making bespoke content available or providing raw news footage or ‘white-labelled’ news content that newspapers can brand as their own or editorialise. Newspapers will not be able to commercialise the BBC news content.”

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