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updated 3/6/2007 4:31:20 PM ET 2007-03-06T21:31:20

The British Broadcasting Corp. began showing excerpts from its news and entertainment programs on the YouTube video-sharing Web site Friday, becoming the first international broadcaster to ink a major deal with the Google Inc.-owned portal.

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In an agreement that analysts described as a key step for both the BBC and YouTube, the British broadcaster is offering three branded channels on the site, including one showing up to 30 news clips a day. The deal gives the BBC access to millions more viewers and gives YouTube the credibility of the venerable British broadcaster.

“It’s an easy win-win,” said Chris Lake, an editor at E-consultancy, an Internet marketing firm.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson said the broadcaster hopes to drive extra traffic to its own Web site and bring in commercial revenue to supplement the license fee levied on British taxpayers.

“It’s essential that the BBC embraces new ways of reaching wider audiences with non-exclusive partnerships such as these,” he said.

Datamonitor analyst Chris Khouri said that the move showed the BBC was becoming “a more commercially focused organization.” Lake added that the deal would provide the BBC with crucial information about viewer habits that it could then use on its own Web site. The BBC has already announced plans to set up its own video player on a new international portal.

One of the new YouTube channels, “BBC Worldwide,” will show clips from hit BBC programs including motor show “Top Gear,” spy drama “Spooks” and nature documentaries presented by David Attenborough.

A second entertainment channel, simply called “BBC,” will show clips like trailers and short features such as video diaries of actors on the popular “Dr. Who” TV series or blogs from reporters working abroad.

The third channel, “BBC News,” will show snippets from the BBC’s commercially operated international news channel of the same name.

The deal is also well-timed for YouTube and may ease the company’s prickly relationship with large entertainment companies that allege that YouTube violates their copyright.

The site is filled with film and music clips uploaded by individual members. Viacom Inc. recently forced the company to take down more than 100,000 video clips and instead set up a distribution arrangement with a new video service, Joost.

“As the BBC has acknowledged, I think it’s better to embrace it and jump in,” Lake said. “That way you can monitor the quality and the content.”

Ashley Highfield, the BBC’s director of future media and technology, said the BBC would not hunt down all BBC-copyrighted clips already uploaded by YouTube members, but would reserve the right to swap poor-quality clips with the real thing, or to have content removed that had been edited or altered in a way that would damage the BBC’s brand.

“We don’t want to be overzealous,” he said. “A lot of the material on YouTube is good promotional content for us.”

But the arrangement is also likely to raise political concerns in Britain because two of the channels, BBC News and BBC Worldwide, will carry advertising. Advertising remains a thorny issue for the taxpayer-funded BBC, and the YouTube deal comes as the BBC Trust, the corporation’s new governance body, debates whether to allow the broadcaster to carry ads on its own international Web sites.

The BBC separates its commercial activities, such as its international broadcasting operations, from its domestic, license fee-funded services, but a series of government-commissioned reports have urged the corporation to separate those activities more clearly.

The BBC News channel will not be available to British viewers because of the commercials, but BBC Worldwide will be available in the United Kingdom, advertising and all.

The broadcaster insisted that was not a departure, pointing out that BBC magazines like “Top Gear,” and TV channels like “BBC World” and “UK Living” already carry advertising.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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