NPA criticises decision to allow BBC iPhone apps launch

Publishing association accuses BBC of damaging 'burgening commerical market for news' on mobile phon

The Newspaper Publishers Association has criticised the BBC Trust decision to allow the BBC to launch a range of smartphone news, sport and iPlayer applications.

The trade association for the national newspaper industry had lobbied for the Trust to subject the planned launch to a public value test, arguing that free BBC news and sport apps would damage the burgeoning commercial market for news on mobile phones.

Follow a review of the service, the Trust last week brushed aside industry concerns and gave the project the green light to launch, saying apps were likely to create "some overlap" with free apps provided by commercial organisations but the impact would not be large as BBC News was already available, in other forms, on smartphones.

The degree of overlap with premium or paid apps in the commercial sector was also expected to be low, the Trust said.

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 public value test, 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."

Oliver Luft writes for the Press Gazette