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BBC Told To Delay iPhone Apps

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By Mark Sweney: The launch of BBC News and BBC Sport smartphone applications is to be delayed, after the BBC Trust heeded industry calls for it to review the corporation’s apps proposals.

Today the BBC Trust has informed the corporation’s management that it plans to assess the plans for a series of apps for smartphones including the iPhone and BlackBerry.

The trust said it had also asked for the launch of the first apps to be delayed. The BBC had been planning to launch its BBC News app next month and a BBC Sport app in May. There are also plans for an iPlayer app.

When it unveiled the app proposals in February, BBC management argued that the new mobile content offerings were an extension of existing services and are “plainly not a new content service and therefore doesn’t need to tbe regulated as such”.

However, earlier this month the Newspapers Publishers Association, which represents UK national newspaper groups, appealed to the BBC Trust arguing that the corporation’s apps plans would undermine commercial organisations’ ability to establish economic models on smartphones.

“There remains some uncertainty about the potential significance of whether it [the BBC’s plans] constitutes a change of service,” said a spokeswoman for the BBC Trust today.

The BBC Trust added it had moved to look into the plans “following representations from the industry”. The trust will now look at four areas: the financial implications, the impact on “users and others”; how long the activity will last; and the extent to which the change would “involve the BBC in a new area of untested activity”.

However, the BBC Trust is not, at this stage, looking to launch a full public value test into the proposed smartphone services.

This article originally appeared in © Guardian News & Media Ltd..