Thursday, 5 February 2009

Kangaroo bounced out of court!

An interesting development in the push for TV institutions to move to an online delivery model. The BBC has been running its wildly successful iPlayer for more than a year, and is now streaming BBC1 and BBC2 live on the Web. ITV, the other major terrestrial player, together with Channel 4 (whose public service remit is to offer innovative programming from under-represented quarters of British society) have both been offering a similar service.

All three, perhaps bizarrely, have been collaborating for the last 18 months or so on a joint venture, called Kangaroo. The aim was to offer consolidated services and, as I understand it, to sell on wholesale content.

Given the fact the three broadcasters between them produce the lion's share of TV content in the UK, it came as no surprise that the Competition Competition investigated.

Yesterday, it published its report, stopping Kangaroo from progressing. The report claims that to allow all three companies to effectively merge their online distribution and re-selling operations would be tantamount to creating a monopoly.

The Commission's view, which you can read in full here, was that audiences would be better served if the three were in competition with each other, and alternative suppliers.

Naturally, the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV are claiming that it's consumers who will lose out. 

Now, we'll never know. Personally, I always thought the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 made strange bedfellows. Given the ease with which content can be accessed online, I'm not sure what the benefits truly would have been to audiences. The main beneficiaries, I suspect, would have been the three companies, who could have leveraged economies of scale. 

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