YouTube to offer BBC news and entertainment videos

Users of YouTube’s online video service will soon be able to view news, TV series, documentaries and other programs from the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC).

Under the nonexclusive partnership, the BBC and its commercial subsidiary BBC Worldwide will create its own advertising-funded commercial “channels” on YouTube, the companies said Friday.

The deal comes on the heels of revenue-sharing agreements YouTube has reached with other content providers, including Wind-up Records and the National Basketball Association, which plans its own NBA channel.

The BBC is keen to broaden its audience and, in particular, use YouTube to generate new revenue. By promoting current programming via YouTube, the broadcasting company also hopes to attract users to its own Web-based, on-demand iPlayer service, formerly known as iMP (integrated Media Player).

While the BBC, the U.K. public broadcaster, will provide advertising-free clips of news shows and promotional content linked to TV series such as “Doctor Who” and “Life on Mars,” its commercial unit will offer an ad-funded entertainment channel, “BBC Worldwide,” featuring clips from programs including “Top Gear,” “Spooks” and “The Catherine Tate Show.”

Another channel, BBC World, will deliver around 30 news clips per day, with up-to-the-minute news and analysis from around the world. The content will come from the BBC Global News Division.

Users will be able to comment on clips and post their own video responses to communicate with the BBC and other viewers.

Advertising-funded clips will be available only to users outside the U.K.

The BBC’s deal with YouTube could spark criticism from media companies that accuse the broadcasting company of bending the rules of its public service broadcasting mission, funded by a compulsory license fee, by moving into commercial Web ventures.

The company’s new on-demand offerings, including the iPlayer service, are currently undergoing a “public value test” by the BBC Trust, which works on behalf of license-fee payers. The offerings have been given provisional approval pending a further consultation and final decision by May 2.

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