AP Customers… Owners… Whatever…

It’s odd that so few of the stories about the AP and charging for content point out that the AP itself is a cooperative owned by a group of newspapers. Therefore, when the AP talks about charging some online customers more than others, what they are really saying is that they will band together to charge search engines and news aggregators more than the online components of their member organizations. Maybe stories about the AP going across the AP wire should include a boilerplate disclosure statement.

HONG KONG — The Associated Press is considering whether to sell news stories to some online customers exclusively for a certain period, perhaps half an hour, the head of the news organization said Tuesday.

[From The Associated Press: AP might charge some customers to get news earlier]

At some point the Department of Justice needs to get involved and look at antitrust implications arising from AP actions and from a competitive standpoint I can only imagine that Thomson Reuters and Agence France Presse are salivating at the idea that the AP could price itself out of the market which would lead to a further balkanization of the wire services.

I would also like to see PBS and the BBC throw their hats into the ring in a more serious way. These are, after all, taxpayer funded organizations who create content that should be free or aggressively licensed to for profit news outlets… if we are going to sanction the outright competition of government or quasi government entities with the private sector (e.g. healthcare) why not go whole hog?

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