back to article Competition regulator kyboshes Project Kangaroo

BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4's web video on demand plans were sunk by competition regulators this morning, who said their proposed joint venture "Project Kangaroo" would have too much market power. In its final report on the proposal, the Competition Commission said Project Kangaroo would have control over too much of the …


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  1. Mark Walker

    Compete on what?

    Don't the BBC, ITV & C4 compete on content? This is like telling them that all using the same broadcast transmission standard is anti-competitive. Surely that's only the case if someone with their own delivery platform also monopolised a load of content rights, like sport for instance...

  2. Geoff Spick
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    In most homes there is one main television set. On that set you have a choice of channels, regardless of the number of companies. So why am I not surprised that a bureaucrat has decided that for online television you should have, in effect, one TV set for each company's channels. Do we have nine television sets in the corner of our living room, like some giant NORAD setup? No.

  3. Anonymous Coward
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    The Competition Commission

    What a joke. Where is all this "competition" in the telco/TV market?

    I haven't seen any evidence of it.

  4. Rob Crawford

    fecking arse hats

    Perhaps if I didn't have to buy a another bloody ugly box from Virgin or Sky, with all the associated monthly fees then perhaps we would be comparing like with like.

    However I have a couple of PCs in the house and I don't want Sky or Virgin on demand.

    So wheres my one stop on demand TV without having a machine dedicated to each of BBC, ITV & C4 ?

  5. /\/\j17

    Arse, meet elbow

    OFCOM 21/JAN/09 - C4 need to partner with people, as we ain't giving them no money.

    CompComm 04/FEB/09 - C4 can't partnet with people, it's anti-competitive.

  6. Ian Ferguson
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    Such a shame

    I use iPlayer, and am vaguely aware that some other channels provide on-demand content, but have never successfully used them (mainly because I can't be bothered to find out).

    A centralised system would encourage sporadic TV viewers like myself to sample more channels. As it is, I'm going to end up only watching BBC shows, because they're easiest.

    What I'm hoping now is some genius whizzkid will hack together an application or service which takes feeds from each of the on-demand services and packages them together in one easily browsable lump.

  7. Anonymous Coward
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    Paving the way for

    This will pave the way for an un-regulated overseas organisation to effectively do the same thing, NBC will probably pile in with their solution, all the money will be made overseas and these pen pushers at the CC will continue to live in another world... surely the best thing for consumers is all the content in one place, thats what i want and im a consumer, it doesnt appear this decision had much to do with the consumer at all

  8. Jerome


    So now I'll have to go to three different sites to watch video instead of just one? I'll have to try and remember which channel produced a particular program to find out where I can watch it? Thank heavens the Competition Commission is looking out for my interests.

  9. Steve Kay
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    @Mark Walker

    Good spot sir on the broadcast standards analogy and sport...

    BSkyB pissing and moaning about monopolies and control? There's a laugh.

    Sky barely produce any content themselves anyway, the majority of their channels are either third parties', sending their content down BSkyB's infrastructure, or JVs of questionable quality ("The Wedding Channel" anyone?!).

    Should the statement really be about "content THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY WANT TO SEE" rather than Gladiators rehashed?

    As for AC@1126, you're right - what a joke.

    My law knowledge doesn't extend to monopolies and whatnot, but I really very much hope that this can be appealed. Where would we be if early ISPs had been knocked on the head for clustering around a single technology for email? SMTP is too much of a monopoly...

  10. Francis Vaughan


    I think those that are protesting this decision as silly are missing the point of the competition. This was to be advertising revenue funded. The issue of competition would have been that advertisers would have found themselves with a single dominant player with whom they would be forced to deal, and viewers would have found themselves with a single dominant player that could foist as much advertising onto the viewers as they felt would be stomached. So there would have been danger of a very significant erosion of quality. In reality it would probably have been quite awful.

    As to competition. So the previous CEO went to MS, and Virgin and Sky want to be players in the game. Three. And we have BBC, ITV, C4. Three. One wonders if the next round is not already in play, and this ruling merely the rather late sounding of the first half bell?

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  12. Anonymous Coward

    A better way

    All the faff involved in online streaming puts me off, trying to remember what's on whose website is a nuisance.

    I find Usenet to be an excellent provider of nearly ondemand tv, everything you want all in one place, the interface is a bit rubbish but you cant knock access to global telly the day after it broadcast and 100 days retention :) thats the true competition.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Having one TV standard does not mean the BBC and ITV don't compete on TV.

    Having one radio standard does not mean they don't compete on radio programs.

    They're not in the software business, they want one piece of software (which they don't compete on and certainly don't have a monopoly on), to compete on their TV.

    This is reverso world logic, by making each develop software separately, the competition watchdog is fragmenting the DELIVERY mechanism, which necessarily reduces competition. Imagine if he insisted that the BBC deliver using Betamax and ITV using VHS tapes. The only customers they would compete for are those that have both VCRs, so effectively it would divide up the market.

    It's defies logic.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sky/Setanta redux?

    Sounds like Sky and Setanta all over again. Competition is good for the consumer so give football over to two competing services. Consequence? Everyone who wants to see all of their team's football matches pays twice as much. Gotta love this competition thing. I'm sure it has nothing whatsoever with politicians doing favours for their friends/donors in business and screwing over the voters.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    what a bunch of twits

    Firstly Highfield leaving was nowt to do with Competition Commission - your editorial is misleading to put it lightly. Read your previous story you actually link to - he got offered a top job in Microsoft, plain and simple. And it appears he was not the right bod for the job anyway if his efforts with the iplayer are to be believed.

    More importantly, this judgement is, on the face of it, ludicrous. We do in this country have a habit of shooting ourselves in the foot again and again. Why oh why are we shackled by numpty beauracrats who just don't get it.

    The CC pdf you link to has an email address to reply to. It wouldn't hurt if he heard from one or two Reg readers - I have already fired off my ha'pennys worth onto his screen.

  16. Ash
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    @Ian Ferguson

    There are on demand services for Channel 4 and ITV, but they are DRM locked and require a plugin for Media Player. As their content is funded by advertising revenue and not tax (TV "License") they have much more strict control on their content. It MUST not be freely available or the guys they buy it from won't sell to them anymore, as the advertising profits will decline.

    4OD would have been nice, but I don't use it on principle. I don't want DRM lock-in for content, even if it's free to me, and anyone who uses it loses my business (i'm not watching their adverts, so that's lost business Mr Coroprate Advertiser). iPlayer's Flash app is fine for me, and is totally unintrusive.

    This was a poor decision. I'd gladly watch a 30 second flash advertisment before an episode of (Insert channel4 show here) for a browser-based viewer like iPlayer. As it is, they can sit and swivel :-)

  17. Dave

    @Francis Vaughan


    This would have given advertisers better choice: advertise on Kangaroo, on Sky, on ITV, on the Web or in print.

    Now, Kangaroo will not go ahead, and they lose that option.

    CC really didn't think this through, did they?

  18. Chris
    Thumb Down

    No sense

    I just don't get this decision at all. As has been said, these channels compete on content, not on the method of delivery. Look how well different networks supporting VHS/BetaMax / HD-DVD/Blu-Ray turned out. It's just not what consumers want. What we need is a single point of access for online programming, like YouTube has done for amateur video.

    The argument about advertising competition doesn't wash either - what's wrong with the existing model where each content producer is responsible for selling advertising on their own content? A single website/protocol to access the video, with advertising put into the videos themselves at the discretion of the producer. Seems to work well just now, gives content producers the ability to market advertising space on their content and makes them try to make their content as popular as possible, and gives advertisers discretion over what type of content they want their adverts to appear on.

    Surely this is a no-brainer?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    .. is it anti competitive to compete with sky?

  20. Mark Lockwood
    Thumb Down


    I recall being told a story about how some Scottish students came up with the idea of an "online bookshop" back in the days of Netscape and dial-up 'tinternet.

    They built a front end, and asked various governing bodies to help with funding. They were told it would be against competition law and would be unfair to physical bookshops.

    Then some American's registered the domain

    Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them

  21. Francis Vaughan

    Re: Competition and @Dave

    With the various governments around the world all seeking to plough huge amounts of taxpayer's money into delivering broadband to every home - an excercise where the only use case that can ever be made to justify it being the delivery of video content - we have the medium to long term evolution of a world where the dominant form of content delivery is broadband. It is likey that its competitors will slowly atrophy. So what has been nixed is the land grap for monopoly control of advertising revenue in what it is hoped will become the dominant media.

    Advertising isn't going to just be the current form of inserted adverts. But the full gamut of targetted advertising. Per viewer or per houshold targetted. Vastly more interesting to advertisers, and consequently much lucrative than traditional TV advertising. Consider the uproar if the players had included Google as their advertising partner. Or Microsoft. It would have been rapidly apparent that this was a very dangerous aggregation of control. The danger is in thinking that broadband delivery is just another way of broadcasting. It isn't. It is a whole new game. Content creation is always going to be the critical resource, handing the entire game to a consortium of the main content creators instantly removes competition from the play. That will always be bad.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    So Why Only One Transmitter Company?

    The CC recently decided that there was no issue if National Grid Wireless, who provided transmission services for the BBC, were bought by Arqiva who provided services for ITV, CH4, and Five. Now there is only Arqiva for terrestrial broadcast TV transmission provider in the UK. No competition, how can fair prices for future services and renewals be established? Why did that go through but Kangaroo not?

  23. Warhelmet

    Open Source?

    How much dev has been done on Kangaroo? How close is it to the finished product?

    I presume that a lot of license fee payers money has been spent on it so they might as well give what they've done to us folks to make what use of it we see fit. It's not as if they can sell the technology.

    I'll set up a TV studio in my shed and make my programmes available to teh interwebs. It's got to be better quality that YouTube.

    I've got iPlayer up and running on my Wii.

    I know that if Kangaroo did come along I would be severely tempted to dump Virgin Media. Even more so because of FreeSat.

  24. TeeCee Gold badge

    No tears shed here.

    I dunno why everyone's going all misty-eyed over Kangaroo getting shot down.

    1) It would have been DRM ridden to keep all the players happy.

    2) Probably would have required the "Kontiki" malware^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hclient or similar too.

    3) Look, no iPlayer, we've gone all Kangaroo (and don't think they wouldn't).

    4) Mac version in 2011, Linux in 2020 if we're lucky.

    I'd have paid to see Sky and Virgin singing from the same hymn sheet though. It must have required some serious stoicism to keep the handbags under their respective chairs.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Never EVER use a DRM service. EVER.

    And there was I thinking that Ofcom was only interested in the highest bidder - good to see them boosting Bittorrent usage ;)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Can somebody explain how this is different to how the terrestrial freeview infrastructure is owned and operated? Isn't terrestrial freeview owned by a consortium of broadcasters and they each have a share of the multiplexes? The limitations of DVB-T is the width of the frequency band limiting the number of multiplexes (and dependent on quality / bitrate) and channels carried? With the internet, the bandwidth available is always growing, surely the SeeSaw service would have opened the door for more broadcasters to buy shares in the service and deliver their content to a wider audience without being limited to the one and only UK broadcaster with a big fat "pipe" capable of carrying literally hundreds of channels, Sky.

    Originally, there were two licenses for satellite broadcast, BSB and Sky won them. It was a very short period of time before the company without a bottomless fughting fund, BSB (who also had the more innovative technology and higher quality sound and picture - betamax anyone?) were forced to sell out to Sky who then owned both satellite broadcast licenses and have continued to base their broadcasting on the same transmission method, leaving a very few rusty squariels under the eaves of Britain's homes. Will the competition commission's attempts to encourage competition lead to multiple, competing sevices being established which then end up merging as BSB and Sky did.

    VOD is an area where the UK is a worldwide innnovator, following on from years of lagging behind on broadband provision [and Hollywood?] according to every survey and with government goals of getting broadband into every home in the next few years, this has knocked the UK back two years in this burgeoning area of the entertainment industry.

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