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Ofcom announced today that it is closing the doors on the idea of an investigation into ‘Project Canvas’ under the Competition Act following complaints made by Virgin Media, IP Vision, Six TV, bSkyb, United For Local Television and the Open Source Consortium.Ofcom’s Chief Executive, Ed Richards, said:
“Ofcom’s view is that consumers’ interests will not be served by opening an investigation. It would be premature at the current stage of YouView’s development given the absence of a clear risk of consumer harm.
He left a safety net.
Project Canvas is a partnership between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva which will offer digital terrestrial channels and internet-delivered TV services via a set-top box connected to viewers’ TV sets and involves creating technical standards which can be used by participating services to deliver content via a single set-top box using a branded user interface which will be known as YouView. It is currently expected to launch in the first half of next year. The complaints
“But if evidence does emerge in the future that YouView causes harm to the interests of viewers and consumers we may reconsider whether to investigate.”
* Project Canvas partners are incentivised to withhold content from competing platforms
* Technical standards produced by Project Canvas had not been developed openly and were not made available for use by those outside the joint venture
* Use of the Project Canvas brand (YouView) is tied to the specified user interface/ electronic programming guide; and
* It is likely to restrict competition between TV platforms.
In assessing whether it should investigate these complaints, Ofcom took into account the likelihood of harm to the interests of viewers and consumers.
At the current stage of YouView’s development, our view is that it would be premature to open an investigation because:
* IPTV is still an emerging sector, and the impact of YouView on the market will not be known with any confidence for some time;
* It is likely that YouView will bring benefits to viewers and consumers. Any potential harm to competition would need to be offset against these benefits; and
* Whether or not YouView and its partners will harm competition in the ways alleged will depend upon how this emerging market develops and how they act, particularly in relation to providing access to content and issuing technical standards.
ContentThe impact of YouView on content syndication is difficult to determine with any confidence at this point.