Newspapers try to block free BBC Apps

The Newspaper Publishers' Association, is trying to stop the BBC from launching its news and sports iPhone Apps, just 24 hours after the announcement was made

The NPA reckons the free apps will undermine traditional newspapers' ability to turn a buck from the new technology and is trying to get the BBC Trust, the Department for Culture Media and Sport and the Media Select Committee to block the launch, saying that the apps are not an extension of an existing service but an entirely new one.

Newspaper bosses argue that the BBC's web sites already make it difficult for them to raise advertising revenue, and that offering free apps will stop them from charging people to read the news.

An email from NPA director David Newell said: "Not for the first time, the BBC is preparing to muscle into a nascent market and trample over the aspirations of commercial news providers.

“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.

“The impact of the BBC’s existing online presence is well known. However, this is a very different and particular case. The market for iPhone news apps is a unique and narrow commercial space, which means that the potential for market distortion by the BBC is much greater. This is not, as the BBC argues, an extension of its existing online service, but an intrusion into a very tightly defined, separate market.

“The development of apps for a niche market does not sit comfortably with the BBC’s mission to broadcast its content to a wide, general audience. In other words, this is not about reach, and we believe the BBC’s efforts - and the considerable investment - would be better directed elsewhere.

“We strongly urge the BBC Trust to block these damaging plans, which threaten to strangle an important new market for news and information," he whined.