BBC’s Content-Sharing Could End Up in Court

The BBC’s deal to share video news content with the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Guardian and Independent may lead to legal action from its commercial rivals, according to Ingrid Silver, a partner at the law firm Denton Wilde Sapte.

“The BBC has characterised the licensing deals it has signed with national newspapers as part of its strategic objective to open up access to such content,” she says.

“No doubt it is also a further attempt to generate more revenue from existing content in response to the threat of a top-slicing of its licence fee income set out in the recent Digital Britain report.

“But, in so doing, the BBC is entering a market where there is pre-existing competition. This calls into question the legality of the BBC’s approach and, specifically, EC state aid issues as to whether it is using public money to distort competition.”

Silver questions whether the commercial arrangements are a legitimate extension of the BBC’s public service obligations.

“One would expect the BBC’s commercial rivals to be considering carefully whether to complain to the competition authorities on these grounds.”

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