back to article BBC ices launch of free iPhone news app

Next month's release of iPhone apps for BBC news and sports coverage has been shelved, while the BBC Trust probes the proposal. The Corporation’s governing body asked the BBC to hold off on development of the service until the trust has considered whether the free apps can be justified. According to a report on the BBC, the …


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  1. Thomas Davie

    The license fee gets less and less relevant

    One of the major points of paying a license fee was that the BBC would provide everyone with easy to access, free (other than the license), unbiassed (theoretically) news. Why are they being told that they're not allowed to carry out their basic remit?

    1. The BigYin


      And why have the gone proprietary, DRM-lock down on their media? Cutting out many users who were watching their content quite legitimately and inconveniencing those who break the law not one bit.

      The BBC may have some of the best shows on TV, but they really need taken down a peg or two.

  2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Stuck up their own bottoms?

    Given that apps run in a browser or browser-like environment, and news is already available on the web, is this a case of "Want to use an app? There's an app for that."?

    1. Rosco

      Better UI - optimised for the form factor

      Yes but your cynicism is misplaced. This is a case of "Want to navigate a news website in a format designed specifically for the small, finger controlled screen you're using instead of a mouse controlled desktop monitor? There's an app for that"

      1. TeeCee Gold badge


        Of course, silly me. Providing a seperate access mechanism specifically to keep iPhone users happy rather then telling them to use the in built browser (so good it provides the Real Internet Experience, remember?) and maintaining this system in parallel with the one used by everyone else is a valuable use of the BBC's resources.

        Unfortunately, the new BBC charter as of 1st Jan 2007 gives them a handy "get out of jail free" card here: Section 4 "Public purposes", point f: "...helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies...". So if its new and a "communications technology" they're entitled to piss money on it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I don't geddit

    Unless the iApp was going to doing something new and revolutionary, how is this any different from an RSS feed reader I already use on my (non-iPhone) mobile? Presumably iPhones have feed readers too? Just because it's packaged as an iPhone app it's somehow different?

  4. dct

    big buisnes vs license payers

    Once again the BBC trust steps in to investigate on the behest of the media companies. Kangaroo all over again... Delivering news in xml rather than html formats is clearly better for the bbc and the license payer. We pay the BBC for these services, and they would be useful so let them do it.

    If our license fee goes to developing something from which we benefit, then who cares about "the market". Who is the trust there to protect? the public, or their rich pals in private media?

  5. Mark Sourbutts
    Thumb Down

    Don't see a problem here

    Personally I don't see why there should be an issue with this. I already pay my license fee, can already see the BBC news through any web browser, so what is wrong with an App that does the same?

  6. Alastair 7


    The BBC Trust needs to not buy into this 'app' crap Apple keeps promoting. Accessing the news through an app on an iPhone is no different to accessing it through a mobile web site. Same data, same devices.

    1. Ian North

      Same Data, Same Devices

      Maybe so but generally speaking the data is presented in a much better way in a native app than on the webpage. There is a world of difference between (for example) the Wikipedia app and the mobile Wikipedia website despite the data being the same. Same for the eBay app, the Independent app etc

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC needs breaking up

    I object to having to pay an obligatory tax (backed with the threat of prison) so the BBC can "give" stuff away.

    Then again when you quite literally have a captive market why should the BBC care?

    You might for example have more reporters covering the US election than NBC had - why should the BBC care?

    You might decide to spend £2.5 million on building a studio for the World Cup that is HUNDREDS OF MILES AWAY from anywhere England (UK's sole representatives) are playing just so you can have Table Mountain in the background. Why should the BBC care?

    You might decide that you're so pro-Labour in Scotland you are going to ACTIVELY help to suppress the Purcell cocaine/gangsters/dodgy contracts stuff. Why should the BBC care?

    The BBC needs to be cut down to public service broadcasting or the license fee has to go.

    It really IS that simple and anyone who believes that the BBC is in some way less biased than commercial organisations is utterly deluded.

    The BBC is a monolithic anachronism that should have died a long time ago.

    PS - yeah yeah the Natural History unit at Bristol does world-class work and there are a couple of other depts that could stand on their own two feet in the commercial world. Other than that its dross. VERY overpaid dross.

    1. Gianni Straniero

      Re: BBC needs breaking up

      > yeah yeah the Natural History unit at Bristol does world-class work

      I think Bristol's output is worth the license fee on its own. The fact that they throw in eight TV channels, a load of radio stations, and a fat website that is the envy of the commercial sector is just gravy.

    2. Aces High


      "The BBC needs to be cut down to public service broadcasting or the license fee has to go.

      It really IS that simple"

      No. No, it REALLY isn't.

    3. StuPC


      [Decent television] is a monolithic anachronism that should have died a long time ago.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      When you've got Murdock pressuring the government to be allowed to drop political neutrality in his news outputs, we need the Beeb more than ever. It may not be perfect, but it is the gold standard by which other news reporting is judged and by judged I usually find I mean: The standard be which other news is found woefully inadequate.

  8. mafoo
    Thumb Down


    How many of these "nascent apps" just rip the content off the BBC website anyway.

    On the other hand, why don't they just make a mobile portal to the existing web site.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    So jobcenter search OK, news feed waste of money

    I smell a chewbacca defence here.

  10. Vikash Joshi
    Paris Hilton


    Surely if they were going to be released next month, then most of the development cost will have been spent. Fair enough, there is still cost to maintaining the app going forward, but seems crazy to cancel it at this late stage.

    Paris: She goes down quicker than BBC iPhone apps.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about other phones?

    Why to the BBC need to create an iPhone app for the news when it can be obtained on the iPhone via the browser? What about other phones - Symbian and Android? Will they be getting apps too? My TV licence should be used for services that can be accessed by all, rather than the few

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "BBC needs breaking up"

    Mr Murdoch I presume? Or is it Mr Dacre?

    1. Mandarin

      old media is shitting its pants

      Rusbridger actually. In today's FT <<The Guardian, one of the few newspapers to charge for its iPhone app, played a leading role in the representations to the Trust.>>

      The BBC is paid to spurt out content to us, the licence fee payers.

      Radio and TV news.

      There was CEEFAX before the advent of this Interweb thing and I always referred to that first thing in the morning.

      The came the whole BBC Online thing.

      None of this stopped me appreciating The Grauniad, The Torygraph, The Mail, The FT or The Sunday Times for the added value, opinion and comment they bring.

      Yes, I stopped paying for a lot of it when they kindly made it free on the internet but I would prob pay for some of it again if it disappears behind a paywall.

      Additionally/Alternatively I don't mind adverts being served up to me in a clever and innovative way in this new eReader medium if the content is free.

      One for sure is that these newspaper guys need to deliver content and experience that's differentiated enough for people to value. It's no good attacking Aunty for doing what she's gonna do.

  13. Chris Dickens

    An idea

    How about this: instead of the BBC offering an app for just one device it should offer a free XML (or whatever) based information service (like RSS but richer).

    It could provide access to video, text and other material much like the website but allow anyone to build an application or to consume the information in any way they want.

    They could rebuild their website to be a front-end to the same information as well. That would cut the costs of providing multiple different outputs.

    A simple system could simply be an XML definition for what is currently each page on the site. Provide an API to access these "pages" along with search, category and timeline type lookups (along with "most popular", trends etc) (like Twitter) and you've got a useful tool which would be easy (and cheap) for them to implement and for anyone else who wants to use it.

    Of course, this being the BBC it won't be done cheaply due to the number of "consultants" and such which will need to be involved.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If Sky can provide iPhone apps, why not the Beeb. And while we're at it, who are this Trust who seem to contribute no trace of anything whatsoever to the Beeb's effectiveness? There's one thing I do agree on though is that the Beeb should be able to charge for the application, just like the Guardian do for their own app (which is quite nice and usable compared to scrolling and pinching in Safari).

  15. rastansaga

    Huh, did you get your 'facts' from The Sun?

    When you said "hundreds of miles away from anywhere England are playing" did you actually mean "where England are playing their game on 18th June" ? It didn't cost anywhere near 2.5 million either.

    Easy mistakes to make if you get your news from Murdoch's Sun.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Who's getting facts from where?

      Before you climb down from your high horse, you might want to remember that the BBC loves to waste the license money that they earn (or rather, tax that they extort). In fact, they do such a dreadful job of it, that they even have to report on it themselves:

      Never mind the 2.5 million that may or may not be correct. They're throwing away a lot more than that. From the article, overspends of £100m and £62m and £45m in dispute. Oh, they claim to have come in under budget on another building by £76m (sounds unlikely to me). All this from a £2b (yes, two BILLION) spend on their shiny new buildings.

      This is just one example amongst many that show questionable ways in which the BBC waste money.

      It must be fantastic to be running a business that competes with other organisations, when you can guarantee income because people don't have any choice but to pay.

  16. little_redshoes

    BBC already has unofficial app in US

    I don't know if the app is only available in the US but iGeoJournal already offers an unofficial BBC News app for free. It's called World News, but it's completely BBC news.

    So...what's the problem with BBC making its own official version of an app that's already out there?

    1. bygjohn

      It's available in the UK too

      And was originally called BBC Reader and its icon was the red BBC NEWS logo to start with, till Auntie got at them, first the logo went, then the name more recently.

  17. Anonymous Coward



    OK , fair enough, the app would probably be the same within the Safari browser, but FFS I'm sick to the death of this unfair competition rubbish! The perhaps ulterior motives of Mr Murdoch and Co. have been making my blood boil recently. ITS OBVIOUS THE PUBLIC WANT THESE APPLICATIONS! WE PAY OUR LICENSE FEE FFS!




    AC because some may disagree and proceed to flame.

  18. JTS

    All the iPhone daily news has been removed today

    All the iPhone daily news seems to have been removed today.

    I use IPList ( to download BBC TV iPhone programs to my PC but both the six and ten o'clock news are missing today.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Guardian app has a point - offline reading

    In addition to decent presentation the Grauniad app has an option to download for offline browsing. Very useful if you are about to travel away from good coverage or fly.

    Regarding BBC apps I can see both sides of the argument. My preference would probably be that they set some rules (proper attribution, link to original, etc.) around use of the content and let others make apps able to access the content. However this would annoy other news companies even more.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Imagine, paying to watch TV!


  21. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Give Me The App

    I don't buy newspapers as they are a waste of trees. I use the BBC for some of my news on my iPhone (via RSS), but would love a native app.

    As for breaking up the BBC, why? We have some of the best TV in the world, why destroy it?

    I'd actually pay double the license fee if they got rid of Eastenders

    1. Nick Fisher

      Leave the BBC alone

      The only people interested in breaking up the BBC are those people in direct competition with it. Well, them and the swivel-eyed loons and fantasists of the rightwing blogosphere.

      Incidentally, don't forget BBC Radio. Radio 4 alone is worth the licence fee IMO.

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