The UK regulator yesterday cleared IPTV service YouView for launch, dismissing calls from media firms for a competition investigation of the scheme.
Ofcom rejected claims by firms including Virgin Media, IP Vision and BSkyB that YouView will restrict competition between TV platforms, stating there is no clear evidence the scheme will distort the market and so little public benefit to a probe.
But the regulator left the door open for future action once the UK IPTV market matures, and a more accurate assessment of YouView’s impact can be made.
An investigation would have delayed the launch of YouView, planned for 1H11, WSJ.com noted.
The media firms complained that YouView partners would withhold content and access to technical standards.
IP Vision and Virgin Media led the charge of objections with letters to the regulator in July, while BSkyB waded in at the eleventh hour as Ofcom was convening to discuss the scheme last week.
YouView is a partnership between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva that aims to combine terrestrial digital channels with Web TV content via a single user interface.
Predictably, YouView CEO Richard Halton welcomed the decision, reiterating his view that the scheme will promote competition in the market by lining up against pay TV alternatives.
“[W]e are creating the only mass market IPTV service that will be subscription free,” he stated, adding that fresh partners could be added in “the coming weeks and months.”
Virgin and BSkyB pledged to decide their next course of action after a close review of Ofcom’s decision, the Journal said.