Competition Commission Halts Project Kangaroo

Tie your Kangaroo down, sport.

The final word has been awaited for a while now but after numerous set-backs we finally know that plans between the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to create a joint digital media distribution service, called Project Kangaroo have finally been well and truly vetoed by the Competition Commission (CC). As Kangaroo’s would-be collaborators said in a joint statement: “the real losers from this decision are the British public“.

According to the CC Kangaroo would be “too much of a threat to competition in this developing market and has to be stopped.” It would be childish for me to suggest the CC has confused a project which would have been extremely beneficial to the video-on-demand viewing British public with a real Kangaroo on a deadly rampage, so I won’t.

As you might guess, I don’t agree with the Competition Commission’s decision. As I’ve espoused before, deeming Kangaroo anti-competitive when there is no competition in the first place seems a little off. Moreover, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have made numerous and reasonable proposals that would minimise the likelihood of Kangaroo being anti-competitive in the future, too. Even were its backers, in the CC’s words, in “a very strong position as wholesalers of TV content to restrict competition from other current and future providers of video on-demand services to UK viewers.

Personally I see such a service as self-regulating. Buyers know how much they’re willing to pay for VOD content and common sense dictates its originators should offer the lowest price for that content. Thus, having three of Britain’s major content providers offering all of their VOD programmes via one portal is surely the best solution for all involved? Apparently not, though.

And you thought the Digital Britain Interim Report was depressing reading.

Competition Commission – Project Kangaroo Final Report.

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