ITN objects to BBC content giveaway

Says policy 'undermines' commercial news providers

LONDON -- Commercial news provider ITN has reacted angrily to the BBC's landmark decision to give free online video news to a group of the U.K.'s leading newspapers, warning that the pubcaster is "pulling the rug" out from under rival news organizations.

ITN chief executive John Hardie warned that the decision "risked undermining the demand for content from independent news providers" and said the BBC was responsible for "potentially undercutting a very important revenue stream."

"The pressure on commercial news suppliers has never been greater which is why ITN has led the way in opening up valuable new lines of business, and the BBC's latest move risks pulling the rug from under us," Hardie said.

The BBC Tuesday announced deals with the Daily Mail Group, the Guardian News & Media Group and Independent Newspapers, under which it said it would supply a limited amount of free BBC-branded online news video covering domestic politics, business, health, science and technology news on a non-exclusive basis. The pubcaster said it will soon announce further such deals with other websites, but will not be offering free entertainment or sports news content.

The plan is part of a series of new initiatives under which the pubcaster offers its technology, public service content and expertise to other suppliers in a bid to extend the reach of its public service remit.

"We regard this initiative as a core part of the BBC working more effectively as a public service partner, with other media organizations utilizing BBC news content," said Mark Byford, the deputy director general and head of journalism at the BBC.

"We hope this wider distribution will extend audience reach to BBC content," Byford said. "However, we are only providing material already produced on the BBC's news website and restricted to certain core public service genres."