Competition Commission probes video on demand joint venture

The Office of Fair Trading has referred Project Kangaroo, the joint video-on-demand venture between BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4, to the Competition Commission, forcing the service to put launch plans on hold. The initial investigation was made due to potential competition concerns regarding the online VOD service.

In a joint statement, the three broadcasters have voiced their frustration over the decision, although they maintain that they remain committed to the venture and are confident it will go ahead.

They add that once the Competition Commission process is complete, each broadcaster will liaise with its board for approval, while the BBC Worldwide will liaise with the BBC Trust, its decision-making body.

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade (pictured) says: “While I understand that the Office of Fair Trading is carrying out its statutory obligations, there is a serious problem with a regulatory framework that seems unable to take the most important interest into account – that of British viewers.

“This venture has been delayed by a reference to the Competition Commission, at the very same time that non-UK companies like Google and Apple are free to build market dominating positions on line in the UK without so much as a regulatory murmur.”

If it goes ahead, Project Kangaroo will allow viewers to download digital versions of the broadcasters’ programmes. The idea is to have the service initially available via the web, with a view of eventually having its content delivered direct to TV screens.

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