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BBC’s Canvas would stifle competition says Sky

UK pay-TV operator BSkyB has delivered a strongly-worded response to the BBC Trust over Project Canvas, the proposed video-on-demand platform that would see content delivered over the internet to Freeview and Freesat set-top boxes and connected TVs. The Trust oversees activity at UK public broadcaster the BBC and has been seeking views from interested parties on Canvas.

In its submission Sky argues that the BBC should not be ‘engaging in platform development and commercialisation’ when its public service remit is better fulfilled by it distributing content across third party platforms. Sky acknowledges that while the BBC does have responsibilities to develop DTT in the UK, these do not extend to the creation of an IPTV/video-on-demand service like Canvas. It adds that the BBC has failed to demonstrate there is an unfulfilled consumer demand for such a service.

“The question is whether the [Canvas] proposals are an appropriate use of the licence fee (not whether there is any reason the BBC should not implement the proposals),” Sky noted. It added that limiting the BBC’s activities to syndicating its content would “minimise the negative market impacts likely to result from the [Canvas] proposals: namely the stifling of investment and innovation in a nascent sector faced with competition from a platform supported by the licence fee, free from the commercial pressures faced by other platforms and retail services.”