Newspapers up in arms over BBC's mobile expansion


British newspapers are venting their disapproval of the British Broadcasting Corporation's plans to introduce its own news and sports applications for the iPhone and other smartphone platforms, complaining that the state-owned company will compete with them and throw the market off balance.

The Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade group representing the national British newspapers, has come out strongly against the proposed apps, which include more apps for the BBC's iPlayer video service. The BBC plans on expanding to Android and BlackBerry later this year.

The fight pits old-guard media establishments against the growing number of online news outlets that have threatened their status and profits. The BBC unveiled its plans this week at Mobile World Congress, and plans to launch a news app for the iPhone in April followed by a sports app in May, ahead of the start of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

The NPA said it would appeal to the BBC Trust and the British Department of Culture, Media and Sport to have the applications blocked.  

"Not for the first time, the BBC is preparing to muscle into a nascent market and trample over the aspirations of commercial news providers," David Newell, the NPA's director, said in a statement. "At a time when the BBC is facing unprecedented levels of criticism over its expansion, and when the wider industry is investing in new models, it is extremely disappointing that the Corporation plans to launch services that would throw into serious doubt the commercial sector's ability to make a return on its investment, and therefore its ability to support quality journalism."

For more:
- read this Times Online article
- read this Independent article
- read this BBC article

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