The BBC's technology chief Erik Hugger, is backing the controversial idea to launch its own news and sport applications for mobile devices. Although the BBC Trust has currently asked the corporation to delay the release of these apps whilst they carry out an investigation, a decision on the matter is said to be just weeks away.
The two free BBC apps were due to be available from April onwards, following their launch with the Apple app store. However at the end of March the Trust announced that it wished to carry out a "market assessment" and put the release on hold.
The Trust have said that they want to ensure that the apps would not overly "distort" the market and have said that various organisations have approached them to voice similar concerns.
Huggers stated in a press interview this week: "I think, from my point of view, the BBC wouldn't have been as bullish as it was about the developments of these apps if it didn't think they were within the remit of the corporation…
"I look at it from the consumer's point of view - when using a small form factor, like a mobile phone screen, a browser is not the best way to display information - whereas apps work much better and have created a new user paradigm. The BBC has always over the last 10 years repurposed the same content to suit different devices in the best way. This is no different."
Huggers went on to say that if the Trust decreed that the release of the apps should go ahead, they would be available to the public "almost immediately." The Trust has said a decision will be made on the matter in "weeks" rather than months.
The BBC Trust have said they will be examining the plans for release in four key areas: "the extent to which the change is likely to affect users and others; the financial implications of the change; the extent to which the change would involve the BBC in a new area of untested activity; and how long the activity will last."
A spokeswoman from the BBC had previously stated: ''We believe the BBC Online service licence is quite explicit in allowing the BBC to repurpose its online content for consumption on mobile devices, something the BBC has successfully executed for a decade for the benefit of the licence fee-payer.'' However this belief is certainly now under scrutiny by the Trust.
The director of the NPA, David Newell stated: "It is vital that these proposals are scrutinised properly to avoid any adverse impact on commercial media organisations."
We are pleased that the BBC Trust has listened to the industry's concerns and acted to delay the planned April launch."
We hope this will enable a thorough assessment to be undertaken."
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