In the week that reports emerged that UK public broadcasters the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV are once again in talks to create a joint streaming service to take on the increasing dominance that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video hold in the UK, a senior member of UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom has declared the 2009 decision by the UK Competition Commission to outlaw a similar, tentative on-demand service from the broadcasters – dubbed Project Kangaroo in its development stages – as a “tragedy” suggesting that a similar project would be viewed more favourably nine years on.
Delivering a keynote speech at the DTG Summit in London, Steve Unger, Group Member and Board Member at Ofcom, said he felt that the UK’s PSBs needed to be able to recover the fixed costs related to their programme production and that there would be some degree of collaboration on the next-generation video player.
“There will need to be a flexible approach to the competition issues that will arise,” he stated.
At the time of Project Kangaroo’s outlawing, Peter Freeman, Competition Commission Chairman and Chairman of the inquiry group, said that after detailed and careful consideration, the watchdog had decided that the joint venture would be too much of a threat to competition in the developing market and had to be stopped.
The CC noted that without the joint venture, BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 would be close competitors of each other and thought that viewers would benefit from better VoD services if the parties – possibly in conjunction with other new and/or already established providers of VoD – competed with each other.