Murdoch attacks BBC’s iPlayer

Catch-up TV service hurts commercial rivals

News Corp. topper James Murdoch has warned that the BBC’s iPlayer is destroying competition in Blighty’s broadband TV market.

Answering questions following his first speech since moving from running BSkyB, Europe’s biggest paybox, to becoming CEO of News Corp. in Europe and Asia, Murdoch said the iPlayer was “a big step, a preemptive intervention” that was “squashing a lot of competitors.”

He added: “I’m not saying it is a bad product, but I am saying it does crowd out competition and innovation. But we have it now, so there you are.”

Since the BBC launched the online catch-up TV service on Dec. 25, its success — around 17.5 million requests were received by the iPlayer last month — has astonished even the BBC, which is investing £131 million ($259 million) in the service over five years.

Murdoch, who made his remarks following a speech given to the Marketing Society in London on Thursday, suggested his beef was less about the iPlayer itself, and more to do with how the BBC is regulated.

Murdoch remains onboard at BSkyB as chairman.

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