PA, BBC Aim Local Video Wires At Struggling Publishers

The Press Association, which has long sold its text service to local and national newspapers, is continuing its effort to be more multimedia by packaging up a new video wire service, as video-capable broadband adoption rises.

While ITN has found all kinds of varied new digital clients like by extending its video business to online and Reuters has is finding clients like for its web video news wire, Press Association has, until recently, still languished in its core days of text-based news.

But over the last year or so, PA, under content head John Angeli, has made investment in multimedia significant enough to halve its 2007 operating profit, having targeted the end of last year as its deadline for transforming in to a multimedia production house. Now it’s aiming raw video footage of up to 30 of the day’s main stories at TV stations and news websites.

Unlike ITN and Reuters, however, there seems to be no this is not a pre-packaged online video option – clients will still need to edit the material themselves. But PA already carried a wire for pre-packaged news video to customers including Johnston Press, Newsquest, MSN and Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED). The new wire will be free to hard-pressed regional newspapers as a trial.

PA’s move comes as the BBC’s earlier offer to syndicate its video to local papers looks set for take-up. The corporation promised to offer the videos as part of its later-rejected proposal to produce bulletins for BBC Local and in its December 2008 partnership programme that has also resulted in an agreement to supply ITV (LSE: ITV) with raw news footage, as well as its response to the BBC Trust’s rejection of BBC Local. We haven’t heard any takers for the offer at any of those points – but The Observer says a deal will be announced Tuesday.

Update: Not everyone is in favour of the BBC’s plans to open up its news coverage to local media: the National Association of Press Agencies, which campaigns on behalf of smaller, independent news agencies across the UK, has warned in a letter to Burnham and the BBC that the deal could “damage competition and plurality” (via PG). It says: “Press agencies and individual freelance journalists have already seen their markets squeezed and payments reduced as newspaper groups seek to maintain profits. The principle of a publicly-funded body providing assistance to major national (and international) companies which own local newspapers for reasons of profit, rather than to advance journalism, is wholly wrong.