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To Link Or Not To Link To TV Streams? Old Question With Easy Answer

ITV (LSE: ITV) wants to jointly discuss with other broadcasters a way to stop websites from linking to their online programme streams, according to this NMA story that has left me baffled. The BBC and ITV reportedly already consulted lawyers to check the legality of sites like TVGuide.co.uk, which – horror of all horrors – sends users to their show pages using a new invention called a “hyperlink” (you may have heard of it). Now ITV says it wants to talk to counterparts to form a joint response, wanting to “control where our content goes so that it’s only available on platforms we have agreements with”.

Have we entered a timewarp or is this is the most bizarre and retrograde step? NMA says it’s an “escalating issue” but I say ITV may as well remove itself from Google (NSDQ: GOOG), cancel its SEO activities and sack its marketing department as well if this is the policy – in-bound links are the lifeblood of any web service, TV or otherwise, and trying to force viewers through a virtual front door, just to get them to go to the shows they want, is backward. The BBC already advertises its iPlayer service on TVGuide.co.uk and 123webtv, a listings guide founded by Kangaroo’s launch CEO, and is ready to offer those shows for embedding on third-party sites, so don’t expect it to join ITV on this path.