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Emerging YouView 'Not Risk': Ofcom

The official regulator Ofcom has announced that it will not open an investigation into Project Canvas under the Competition Act following complaints made by Virgin Media and IPVision.
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.
It also 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.
Virgin Media and IP Vision submitted complaints to Ofcom that alleged potential breaches of the Competition Act 1998.
Ofcom also received submissions from 11 other parties, including BSkyB.
The complainants raised a number of concerns, including that 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 and 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, their view is that it would be premature to open an investigation because it is still an emerging sector, and the impact of YouView on the market will not be known with any confidence for some time and 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.
If evidence emerges that the operation of YouView could cause harm to viewers and consumers in the future, Ofcom may reconsider whether to investigate.
Ofcom 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.
"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."

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