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The Newspaper Publishers Association (NPA) has lobbied against the BBC’s plans to release standalone news and sports apps for the popular Apple iPhone in the UK.
The NPA, which represents national and regional newspapers, magazines, books, journals and data publishers, claims that the publishing of the apps would “damage the nascent market” for news apps on mobile devices. The NPA therefore called upon the BBC Trust to block the BBC move into the application market.
The BBC’s foray into the mobile news application market would mean they would be providing a “new service in a particular market”, according to the NPA and should therefore be put before a BBC Trust public value test before any introduction.
The move may be instigated by complaints from other media outlets who have already released apps to Apple’s App Store. For example, The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph already have apps on the market. By allowing the integration of the BBC into the mobile news space, the NPA argue existing outlets would find the Corporation becoming a clear obstruction into “development of sustainable advertising and paid-for models for online content provision.”
The BBC’s main focus at present is to release an app for the Apple iPhone but are to develop similar applications for both Google’s Android operating system and RIM (BlackBerry).
The BBC Trust has released a statement which backs the BBC’s move, referencing the fact that it was license payers who prompted the corporation to move into the mobile market. A trust spokeswoman said:
The BBC Executive has advised the trust that it is satisfied that these plans to deliver BBC News, Sport and iPlayer content via smartphone apps fall within the terms of its existing BBC service licence and that the plans do not constitute a significant change to the service. The proposals have not been referred to the Trust for approval.
The Newspaper Publishers Association said it will raise its concerns with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and MPs on the Media Select Committee should it not get the response they hoped from the BBC Trust.
If development continues and the plans for release are not blocked, we should see a BBC News app in April and a BBC Sport app (which allows mobile users to World Cup 2010 matches live), being released before the tournament starts in June.
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