Yahoo to offer users streaming BBC News videos

Yahoo, the search engine and internet portal company has signed a deal to offer its users access to streaming BBC News video content on the news section of the Yahoo portal.

Through an agreement with the news division of Disney-owned American television network ABC, Yahoo will be able to offer US users of its Yahoo News service access to around 30 different video clips from BBC News every day.

ABC News signed an exclusive distribution agreement with BBC News in January for on-demand broadband and wireless content in North America.

"The demand for BBC content in the United States is growing all the time and we believe our expansion on new digital platforms is critically important to helping us meet that demand" said Richard Sambrook, director of the BBC's Global News division.

At present, access to much of the BBC's streaming video output is restricted to internet users in the UK accessing from IP addresses that are known to be from UK-based ISP services. The access restrictions are on the grounds of cost of bandwidth and hosting, and fulfilling its public service remit under the terms of the current BBC licence fee charter.

Under the terms of the Yahoo deal, the financial terms were not disclosed, the BBC's commercial arm will receive revenue from Yahoo for access to the Corporation's news content, thus offsetting the cost of making the material available to a larger audience.

The BBC has been trying for some time to increase both the volume of content and size of audience for its online audio and video material. Its Interactive Media Player, a peer-to-peer on-demand video and audio distribution system for UK viewers that it trialled at the end of 2005 and which it hopes to launch in 2007, is currently under review amid concerns from rival broadcasters. Companies including ITV and Shy have raised concerns that the BBC's internet activities are stifling competition as few commercial rivals can compete with the BBC's licence fee funding.