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Open Broadband TV Standard Could Face Competition Concerns

Posted: 24th Apr, 2009 By: MarkJ
Ofcom has warned that Project Canvas, a joint open on-demand broadband TV (IPTV) standard being developed by the BBC, ITV and BT (original news), could face similar competition concerns to those that ultimately stopped Project Kangaroo (UKVOD) earlier this year (here). The service will be open for all public broadcasters, device developers and ISPs.

The Guardian notes that Ofcom's submission to the BBC Trust's consultation on the service highlighted five key areas of potential concern, not least that the quality standards for programmes made available via the online venture are "justifiable, non-discriminatory, transparent and proportionate".

"We recognise that the trust has determined that Canvas is a non-service activity and has decided not to adopt a full public value test in assessing the application. However, at this stage, we thought it might be helpful to highlight a few high-level issues that we believe the trust will wish to consider in detail in delivering its assessment of the proposals," said Peter Phillips, partner, strategy and market developments at Ofcom, in a letter to the trust.

"While the benefits of Canvas are potentially significant we would encourage the BBC to continue to ensure its content is made available on a wide range of platforms. In other words, it is important that comercially-led propositions which seek to compete with Canvas should not be unfairly prevented from accessing BBC content."

The other areas of concern relate to technical standards; partnership arrangements with other companies; availability of Project Canvas to TV services other than Freeview/Freesat and navigation.

Project Kangaroo (UKVOD), the joint BBC, ITV and Channel4 broadband Internet TV (IPTV) / Video-on-Demand (VOD) service, was dealt a fatal blow when the Competition Commission (CC) decided to block the service. The CC concluded that none of the remedies proposed would have removed the threat to competition in the VoD market.
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