Cost-cutting BBC drops international news agency Associated Press citing "financial pressures"

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Associated Press said it was disappointed not to have secured a new contract with the BBC... "but producing the high quality journalism for which AP is renowned comes at a price" (Source: Getty)

The BBC will end its association with international news agency Associated Press (AP) this week because of “financial pressures”, City A.M. has learned.

News staff have been informed that they will no longer be permitted to use AP video, pictures and wire copy from later this week.

Fran Unsworth, head of the World Service, today told staff in an email that the BBC was instead starting a “new relationship” with Agence France Presse.

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AP said the news was “disappointing”. Daisy Veerasingham, senior vice president for revenue, told City A.M.:

It’s disappointing that after a long period of negotiations, we were unable to agree commercial terms for renewing our contract with the BBC for the provision of our video, text and photo news services.

We recognise that the BBC is having to make significant cuts to its news budget, but producing the high quality journalism for which AP is renowned comes at a price and we have to consider all of our customers around the world by being fair and consistent in our commercial terms.

The email from Unsworth, also signed by head of newsgathering Jonathan Munro, told staff: “We’d like to thank AP for their longstanding partnership with us.

“They represent a gold standard in journalism, often working in hostile and threatening circumstances. As organisations, we share many common values, and we part company on good terms.

“This decision has been taken ​​purely and simply because of the financial pressures we are facing over the years ahead.”

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Warning staff that using AP pictures in the future will lead to “substantial bills”, she added: “Many major broadcasters are selective about supply agencies, so we are far from alone in making this sort of decision. But we recognise that this change will reduce the options available to output on some stories and are working on a range of initiatives to mitigate this loss over time…

“We appreciate that for some of you this marks a significant change and thank you in advance for your support and cooperation, particularly in the first few weeks.”

On the AFP arrangement, Unsworth added:

From midnight on Friday we will subscribe to the full AFP newsroom video services for unrestricted use on BBC output – all platforms and any language. We already receive text wires from AFP and AFP stills via our contract with Getty Images, and we therefore know the high quality of their products. We also hope to work closely with AFP on other initiatives. The many other agency and partner broadcaster relationships we have around the world remain in place.

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