Is The BBC An AP Parasite?

from the just-wondering... dept

Over the last few months we’ve been hearing all these claims about how various “aggregators” and internet sites that simply rewrite articles from “mainstream” publications are somehow “parasites.” But, of course, that ignores the fact that many of those mainstream publications do the exact same thing themselves. So, for example, earlier this week, there was a cute AP article getting passed around about a girl by the name of Kelly Hildebrandt who was bored one night and looked on Facebook for anyone else with her name, and found that the only other one was actually a guy. One thing led to another, and now they’re getting married to each other (awwwww.) Anyway, not long after that, I saw that the BBC appears to have a very similar article, and it’s quite clear that all they did was rewrite the AP’s article. At one point, they do credit the AP, but the article is almost a direct paraphrase of the AP’s. So does the AP start calling the BBC a parasite, too? Or does it finally realize that no one owns the news, and lots of publications often rewrite the news and have for ages?

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: associated press, bbc

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Is The BBC An AP Parasite?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
25 Comments
Tim says:

Re: But then...

Kevin, that’s exactly right! They are all parasites. In fact, the business model of AP, AFP, Reuters et al depend on this parasitic behaviour in their business model! The “parasites” that AP don’t like are no different from other news outlets, except that they don’t pay AP for their items.

It’s a serious problem for the health of our democracy when professional journalists are failing to do any original work. Instead they buy items from AP (and maybe tinker with the wording in the case of Auntie Beeb), or sit around Westminster getting anonymous briefings, or repeat press releases verbatim.

It may prove counter-productive for AP to broadcast in this way their role in the death of journalism.

Allen (profile) says:

Yeah, but...

I expect that the BBC subscribe to the AP service and from the AP’s perspective, as long as they get their cut, everything is OK. I dont see anything hypocritical here.

The AP are wrong in thinking that they can own the news, but their real problem is that they don’t understand their product. The content itself was never the value proposition: the value was always the convenient collection, organisation and distribution (of content). Their failure is in routed in not realising this and missing the opportunity to enhance their product to maintain a value proposition.

Anonymous Coward says:

Brittan Licensing fees

Well, in Brittan, and most of Europe for that matter, you do have to pay a yearly license fee to receive basic over-the-air television. It’s a fascinating setup which must have a high operational cost. And, yes, there are still commercials.

“In the United Kingdom, the current annual cost for a colour television licence is £142.50”

See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_licence

Point is, there’s revenue coming in from multiple directions, via commerical advertising and also licensing fees, but perhaps the business model lacked revenue to the AP.

Either way, it seems like AP knows what they’re doing by strong-arming the BBC and the BBC will have no other choice than to pass the AP fee along to their customers in the form of higher television licensing fees.

It’s really a bad system, and unless the BBC decides to challenge it, you can expect other folks to come knocking on the BBC’s door and other government’s licensing entities for a handout.

Big Al says:

Re: Brittan Licensing fees

In Britain (not ‘Brittan’) the licence fee covers the cost of running the BBC TV and radio services which, by the way, do not run commercials. That way you aren’t bombarded by your local car-dealer every ten minutes, but can actually watch the programs as they were intended, something I for one find preferable to an ad-funded system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Brittan Licensing fees

That way you aren’t bombarded by your local car-dealer every ten minutes

Just because their commercials aren’t as obvious doesn’t mean they don’t run them.

The BBC spends more time advertising their own shows than ITV or Channel 4 spend on adverts.

The BBC is the most blatant product placement channel in the UK. You just have to watch the news and see how they spend 30 seconds focusing on an Apple logo.

something I for one find preferable to an ad-funded system

I always find who support the BBC have the same argument – I like it so keep it.

How’s about this as a novel solution to the license fee. If you want it, YOU pay for it. Stop being a cheap bastard and having the tax payer subsidise YOUR television subscription.

Oh, but that would mean YOU paying more and that’s not likely to happen because, as stated above, you’re a cheap bastard.

JackSombra (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Brittan Licensing fees

“The BBC spends more time advertising their own shows than ITV or Channel 4 spend on adverts.”
Because programs made by other networks (or by the BBC for selling to other networks) are geared to be an odd 40 minutes of showtime and 20 mins of adverts to fit in the hourly slots. BBC have to fill those 20 minutes with something to keep roughly to the hourly scheduling system
“The BBC is the most blatant product placement channel in the UK. You just have to watch the news and see how they spend 30 seconds focusing on an Apple logo.”
Total crap, they are actually specifically banned from product receiving money or benefit in kind to do product placement. The only placement you will see is if the show was bought from another network/producer

“I always find who support the BBC have the same argument – I like it so keep it.

How’s about this as a novel solution to the license fee. If you want it, YOU pay for it. Stop being a cheap bastard and having the tax payer subsidise YOUR television subscription.”
For a good example of why this does not work check out sky, an satellite subscription service
At the start it was no ad’s and quality programming.
Then it only ad’s on main channel.
Then it was ad’s on nearly all channels and the 100001 rerun of the Simpsons. Non blanket subscription then makes program planning a commercial concern and commercial concerns equal lowest common denominator entertainment to maximize profits

Big Al says:

Re: Re: Re: Brittan Licensing fees

I don’t pay anyway (since I’m not in Britain, although I used to be) and I just wish I had the quality of shows here, along with the dearth of ads. Fully one third of programming here is advertising – consequently I ignore the majority of TV, and would consider it a complete rip-off if I had to pay a licence for the recycled garbage that is shown. However, let the proles have their bread and circuses…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Brittan Licensing fees

“And, yes, there are still commercials.”

No there’s not.

The occasional 30 second ad between shows for their own radio stations/programmes, perhaps, but nothing for 3rd parties. In fact, IIRC, part of the BBC’s remit expressly forbids them from running commercials, and some programmes have had to be very careful not to have content that could be seen as advertising a 3rd party product.

Anonymous Coward says:

Simple fact checking really does show a different story. If you check the BBC website closely, I am sure you will find AP images, also REX Images, Getty Images, and all sorts of third party image sources.

While it would be an assumption, if they subscribe to AP for images, don’t you think they might also subscribe to the wire service? Have you never heard a news story that starts out “according to the Associate Press…”?

Fact checking. Journalists do it, bloggers apparently don’t.

Gregg DesElms (profile) says:

Oy. I don’t have time to read all the comments, here, so this may have already been said in one form or another…

…but Mr. Masnick might want to consider the possibility that the BBC is an AP subscriber (it almost certainly is); and it’s very, very common for AP subscribers to essentially just rewrite AP copy, adding something to it, perhaps (or not), and then placing a “AP copy was used in this piece” or “The AP contributed to this article” or something like that at the bottom.

Mr. Masnick might also bother to intuit what is at least part of the “rewrite desk’s” role in a typical newsroom.”

The whole POINT of such as the AP is so that budget-limited news organizations can report news from places where they, themselves either would or could never place reporters in person. It’s clear in the Terms-of-service agreement between the AP and its subscribers that such as what the BBC is alleged by Mr. Masnick to have done is not only allowed, but encouraged. Rewriting a story so that its language and delivery has the character of the news organization publishing it, which its readers have come to know and appreciate, is EXACTLY what the AP wants to see its subscribers do.

It’s true that no one owns the news. However, the written (or spoken) words of the journalists who report it is THEIR creation, and may be legally and justifiably protected. Agreements between such as the AP and its subscribers which set forth the terms of use of such works is PART of said protections.

Why Mr. Masnick finds any of this odd is a mystery to me.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »