Dec 052010
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With its ability to collect articles and sell advertisements against them, Google has already become a huge force in the news business — and the scourge of many newspapers. Now its subsidiary YouTube wants to do the same thing to local television.

YouTube, which already boasts of being “the biggest news platform in the world,” has created a News Near You feature that senses a user’s location and serves up a list of relevant videos. In time, it could essentially engineer a local newscast on the fly. It is already distributing hometown video from dozens of sources, and it wants to add thousands more.

YouTube says it is helping TV stations and its other partners by creating a new — but so far not fiscally significant — source of revenue.

But news media companies may have reasons to be wary. Few TV stations have figured out how replicate profits on the Internet. YouTube can easily act as another competitor.

So for now, most of the YouTube videos near you come from nontraditional sources: radio stations, newspapers, colleges and, in the case of a fledgling San Francisco outfit called VidSF, three friends who despise the local TV diet of fires and homicides.

“It really levels the playing field,” said Kieran Farr, a founder of VidSF who covers the city’s culture and uploads his segments to YouTube.

News Near You, started in the spring, is only part of YouTube’s push into news video. This summer, the company invited the more than 25,000 news sources listed on Google News to become video suppliers. The site is also promoting videos from ABC News, The Associated Press, Reuters and other outlets.

This year, it began featuring breaking news videos — including ones submitted by citizens in Iran, where protests are being captured by cellphone users — on its home page.

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