Virgin attempts to pull plug on Canvas

U.K. cabler files complaint about online venture

Project Canvas, the U.K. venture that aims to bring video-on-demand via the Internet to domestic TV sets, may be strangled at birth.

The project is backed by pubcaster the BBC, commercial giant ITV, hybrid pubcaster Channel 4 and telco BT Group, TalkTalk Telecom Group and Arqiva.

British cabler Virgin Media has told regulator Ofcom that Canvas will “significantly and irreparably harm competition,” and has called for it to be nixed.

It fears that Canvas, due to bow next spring, could create a monopoly in Internet-delivered entertainment.

Canvas will offer free and pay VOD via set-top boxes already used for Freeview and Freesat or directly to Internet-enabled TVs. On Tuesday, ITV indicated that it is likely to charge for some content that it makes available on the platform. BSkyB has also campaigned against the service, but the complaint from Virgin Media goes further.

The cabler claims Canvas will create “obvious restrictions on competition.”

A spokeswoman for Project Canvas said it would discuss the complaint with Ofcom, adding, “Our proposals remain unchanged and will create an open standard-based Internet-connected TV environment within which competition and innovation can flourish.”

The Office of Fair Trading approved Project Canvas in May.

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