BBC education app promotion concerns UK publishers
In the UK, educational publishers have expressed concerns over the BBC’s study revision platform Bitesize, arguing that the reach of the app through promotion on the broadcaster’s various platforms is anticompetitive behaviour, reports the Bookseller. The launch of the new revision Bitesize app in April, which includes ‘a mix of text, audio, video infographics, quotes and quizzes’, as well as ‘curriculum-linked content’ for core subjects in the UK, has reportedly concerned educational publishers and technology start-ups, who questioned the app’s extensive promotion across the BBC’s TV, radio and online channels and its potential to affect sales of study revision titles. This follows a recent government report into the BBC, which resulted in pressure on the broadcaster to curb services that directly compete with commercial providers, leading to a scaling back of the BBC’s food, travel and magazine-style content. George Burgess, founder of mobile exam preparation app Gojimo, said the BBC’s ‘exploitation of its marketing channels and reach, will kill British startups and result in job losses’. ‘It’ll be impossible for anyone to compete, let alone us smaller start-ups. We welcome competition but believe that the BBC is behaving in an anticompetitive manner.’ A spokesperson for the BBC said the organisation ‘has worked closely with the commercial education sector’, to include onward links from Bitesize to ‘other providers to improve the learning experience for our audience and benefit the commercial industry’. UK Publishers Association CEO Stephen Lotinga said the association would ‘remain engaged with [the BBC] over Bitesize and are keen to ensure any developments have limited impact on our members commercial activities’. ‘There needs to be a careful balance between the BBC using the content it has paid for with public money … while having sensitivity to the fact that its activity has an impact on commercial alternatives,’ said Lotinga.