The Newspaper Publishers Association has criticised the BBC Trust's decision to approve the launch of new BBC branded apps for news, sport and iPlayer services.The BBC's decision to press ahead with the new apps in a competitive marketplace comes despite recent promises by the corporation to overhaul the regulations that dictate how much damage it can do to its commercial rivals, after its controversial Lonely Planet acquisition, among others.
On Friday (23 July), the BBC Trust concluded that a public value test was not required for mobile apps.
The launch of the BBC's Sports app, announced last February, was initially planned to coincide with the Fifa World Cup this summer. However, complaints from the commercial media industry forced a delay until the BBC carried out a review.
The corporation said, in response to industry concerns, that it had considered there would be some overlap between the BBC apps and free apps, but the impact might not necessarily be too large, as BBC content was currently available to mobile users’ web browsers already.
The NPA objected to the launch on the grounds that the apps were new services and not an extension of existing ones.
David Newell, director of the NPA, 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'."
He added: "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."