Byford: BBC video deal to complement PA and ITN services

Mark Byford, deputy director-general of the BBC, said the corporation wants to complement services from ITN and the Press Association by supplying newspapers with online video.

Responding to complaints the BBC’s decision to allow four national newspaper websites to carry BBC created online news could harm the activities of commercial groups, Byford said the corporation did not want to ‘head on compete with other providers.’

Speaking on Radio 4’s Media Show yesterday he said the BBC was ‘sensitive’to ‘any negative impact that outweighs public benefit’on commercial rivals.

Byford said: ‘We have been very clear that we want to be complimentary to the sort of content that ITN and PA are providing and that is why we have seen [ITN chief executive officer] John Hardie personally and why we have seen [PA managing director] Tony Watson personally.

‘The agreement is about the BBC being a bit more open about sharing its material while not wanting to harm PA, ITN and others in providing areas where they may be making a commercial return.”

The landmark agreement announced this week allows four national newspaper groups to embed BBC video relating to UK politics, health, business and science and technology on their websites.

Byford said that the BBC had chosen to limit coverage to these subject areas so as not to compete with PA, ITN and others who provide coverage of sports, entertainment and general daily news.

Byford said: ‘This is an open BBC that’s syndicating material that has already been on the BBC online site. This is not bespoke material or rushes special things for different newspapers.”

Telegraph Media Group, Independent News & Media, Guardian News & Media and Daily Mail & General Trust have all agreed to take BBC video to use on their websites, with more newspaper publishers expected to take up the offer in the coming weeks.

However, move has provoked criticism from other newspaper groups while content providers PA and ITN have complained it could damage their commercial activities.

Responding to criticisms that the move had been pushed through without proper consultation, Byford said: ‘It was subjected to a market impact assessment by us in the management and was seen as part of the BBC wide syndication policy.

‘It was not assessed by the Trust to be such a new service that it needed a public value test.’

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