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BBC Smartphone Apps Get the Green Light Despite Newspaper Industry Concerns

The BBC Trust has given the green light to dedicated BBC smartphone applications despite newspaper industry concerns about the plans.

The Trust said plans for apps for BBC News, Sport and iPlayer did not require further scrutiny through a Public Value Test.

Announcing its decision last week, the Trust conceded that there would be “some overlap” between the BBC apps and free apps, but concluded that the impacts “may not necessarily be large”.

David Newell, NPA director, said: “It is disappointing that the BBC Trust has decided to push this through quickly and avoid conducting a formal PVT, despite the BBC’s previously stated aims that ‘where actual or potential market impact outweighs public value, the BBC should leave space clear for others’ and that ‘it must listen to legitimate concerns from commercial media players more carefully than it has in the past’.

“The launch of BBC mobile apps represents a significant change to the BBC Online service and we believe it will have a significant and negative market impact upon the viability of the business models of commercial news organisations in the app market.”

The NPA wrote to Sir Michael Lyons, BBC Trust chairman, and to Mark Thompson, BBC director general, to express the newspaper industry’s deep concern that the BBC would be allowed to launch such services without prior scrutiny.

The NPA had pointed out that the plans clashed with the BBC Online Service Licence’s remit requirements that BBC Online should “balance the potential for creating public value against the risk of negative market impact.”

The BBC says its News app will “evolve and improve” and that its next steps will include adding BBC Local News. More detail on the BBC News app is available here.

The NS is the voice of Britain’s local media, the UK’s most trusted medium. It represents 1,100 newspapers, 1,700 websites and other print, digital and broadcast channels.