Virgin tries to block Canvas
Just after revealing their ‘Virgin Player’ Virgin Media has submitted a formal complaint to Ofcom, asking the regulator to investigate Project Canvas on the grounds that it is anti-competitive and restricts consumer choice.
In a 74-page document it accuses the partners in Project Canvas, which include the BBC, ITV and rival ISPs BT and TalkTalk of departing from their stated objectives of creating a set of open standards for next generation TV. It claims it is now creating a proprietary closed platform controlling its look and feel and thereby potentially favouring it over other TV services such as Virgin's.
Virgin Media has made the move after months of dialogue with Project Canvas, including considering the possibility of creating Canvas-compatible Virgin Media set-top boxes. However, negotiations are thought to have broken down when Canvas insisted its branding and look and feel would have to be as prominent as Virgin’s.
A Virgin Media spokesman said: "We have not taken the decision to file this complaint lightly. We have worked with both the BBC and their joint venture partners successfully in the past to bring exciting new services to consumers, such as when we were the first to make BBC iPlayer available via the television screen.
However, the Canvas partners have significantly exceeded their original claims to be creating a common set of open standards which could have been improved upon by others and are now intent on controlling every aspect of how people watch TV."
Virgin added: "The BBC Trust has already acknowledged, but then completely ignored, the impact that Canvas will have on so many different organisations, from consumer electronics firms to software developers and enterprising new technology manufacturers, to independent programme makers. We strongly urge Ofcom, supported by the OFT, to thoroughly examine Project Canvas and its clear anti-competitive behaviour."
Virgin's intervention may delay the launch of Project Canvas set-top boxes, which is expected to happen before year end.