Ofcom decide against competition investigation into YouView
Ofcom have decided that there will be no investigation into the anti-competitiveness of Project Canvas (now known as YouView), the joint venture between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva which will offer on-demand and catch-up TV by using a broadband connection to deliver the viewers choice of programming to the Television.
Ofcom had received complaints from both Virgin Media and IPVision, later backed by BSkyB and 10 others which claimed that YouView breached the Competition Act. The main concerns related to the following:
- The project partners are incentivised to withhold their content from other platforms
- Technical standards had not been developed openly and there were not available for use outside the member companies
- Use of the YouView brand is tied to a specific user interface and EPG (eletronic programming guide)
- It is likely to restrict competition between TV platforms.
Ofcom felt it would be premature to open an investigation at this stage of the project's development as this is still an emerging sector so Ofcom is unsure how the market will react to YouView. It also believes that any benefits that this will bring to consumers will offset any harm to competition.
"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."
"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."Ed Richards, (Chief Executive) Ofcom
Ofcom did not see any evidence that YouView would lead to content being withheld from other platforms but said it would keep content syndication policies from the involved companies under review. It also noted that a number of technical standards had been made available to the industry from the project. The regulator did not believe that the risk of tieing to a specific user interface would be sufficient to cause consumer harm.
YouView welcomed the decision from Ofcom.
"We have been clear throughout this process that YouView will stimulate competition in the TV platform market and create opportunities for content providers and device manufacturers. Most importantly it represents a great consumer proposition. We therefore welcome this decision from Ofcom."
"In a market dominated by pay services, we are creating the only mass market IPTV service that will be subscription free. All our efforts are now focused on launching a brilliant consumer product for launch next year. We look forward to broadening our engagement with wider industry partners over the coming weeks and months."Richard Halton, (CEO) YouView