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Ofcom receives fresh YouView complaint

UK regulator Ofcom has received another complaint about the forthcoming YouView connected TV project, formerly known as Project Canvas, this time from IPTV platform developer Electra Entertainment, which is chaired by new media entrepreneur Jasper Smith.

The company, whose Trove platform is distributed by supermarket chain Tesco cross a range of its own-branded set-top boxes and whose management team includes former BSkyB executive John Swingewood and former Gemstar European technology chief Dale Heathcote, has alleged that YouView is anti-competitive and will damage the UK interactive market.

“The joint venture’s partners, namely the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Arqiva, TalkTalk and BT, are already dominant or major players in their respective fields and when combined, have the potential to form a cartel and market monopoly for the provision of next generation free-to-air and micro-pay television services,” said Electra. “The majority of investment into YouView’s software architecture and R&D is effectively state-aided, with funds supplied up-front by the BBC.”

The company cites an alleged lack of transparency around YouView’s technology standards, “placing other TV architecture platforms such as Yahoo! Connected TV, Google TV, Apple TV as well as Trove at a significant disadvantage”, it said. The company also said that YouView’s “monopoly position” and public statements from its shareholders about a potential £48m (€56m) marketing campaign would also disincentivise venture capitalists from investing in broadband TV.

Cable operator Virgin Media was the first to lodge a complaint against YouView. Cindy Rose, executive director of Television at the cabler, said at the RTS conference in London yesterday that Virgin Media believes it reduces choice by forcing customers to choose between it or Sky and Virgin.