Virgin Media complains to Ofcom about Project Canvas

Project Canvas - Virgin Media not a fan
Project Canvas - Virgin Media not a fan

Virgin Media has has made an official complaint to Ofcom regarding Project Canvas, the BBC-backed IPTV initiative, calling the service anti-competitive.

Virgin Media has been quite vocal about its reservations of Project Canvas, previously stating that it had the potential of "severely restricting competition and innovation in the UK's digital media landscape".

And this is the slant that it has taken with its complaint to Ofcom.

In a statement Virgin Media explained: "The Canvas partners have significantly exceeded their original claims to be creating a common set of open standards which could have been improved upon by others and are now intent on controlling every aspect of how people watch TV.

"The BBC Trust has already acknowledged, but then completely ignored, the impact that Canvas will have on so many different organisations; from consumer electronics firms to software developers and enterprising new technology manufacturers to independent programme makers."

Open platform

This comes after the BBC Trust approved Canvas as long as a number of conditions were met.

Virgin Media now believes that these conditions are not being met and the spec for Project Canvas – which is backed by BT, Channel 4, ITV and the BBC – is over-stepping the mark.

At the moment, Virgin Media is one of the forerunners of on-demand content in the UK. Project Canvas' arrival would be a massive rival for the service it offers, although the door is open for Virgin to offer content through the Canvas platform.

Virgin Media isn't the only opponent to Project Canvas. Sky also has major reservations, but it seems that as of yet no complaint has been lodged.

Speaking at an event with TechRadar in attendance recently, CTO Anthony Rose said that Project Canvas is set for a 2011 launch.

All about innovation

Rose believes that Canvas is an open platform, noting: "It's an open platform and that means anyone can come up with something for the platform."

"If you make it closed, then only you can provide innovation. When it's open, other people can collaborate to the success of the platform and come up with applications that you've never even dreamed of.

"Because of this, Canvas is a great proposition."

Project Canvas was recently delivered a blow with the news that Channel Five was pulling out of the venture, though Richard Halton said this wouldn't change the "strategic rationale".

When TechRadar spoke to Humax about Project Canvas – which is rumoured to be called YouView when it is made available to the public – it told us to expect the boxes when they do arrive in the UK to cost "a premium".

That's if Ofcom doesn't step in to scupper proceedings.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.