Antitrust body rules against Kangaroo

Proposed online video service deemed anticompetitive

LONDON -- Kangaroo, the proposed online video joint venture from ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC's commercial arm BBC Worldwide, may have hit a stumbling block.

Antitrust body the Competition Commission on Wednesday provisionally ruled against the service, arguing that it is anticompetitive.

The regulator has mooted a number of options, including not allowing broadcasters to license their content exclusively on Kangaroo, and will now discuss such plans with the broadcasters involved before making a final decision in February.

"We are concerned that the loss of rivalry between BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4, who are normally regarded as close competitors, could restrict existing and future competition for VOD," Competition Commission chairman Peter Freeman said in his report.

"At the extreme, (Project Kangaroo) might withhold content from its rivals altogether. Any reduction in access to content would be likely to impact unfavorably on viewers," he added.

The broadcasters and other interested parties now have until Dec. 16 to re-enter submissions aimed at resolving the Commission's antitrust concerns.

In a joint statement from the Kangaroo partners, the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV said that the "suggested remedies are not an exhaustive list," of solutions to the Commission's concerns, but represented "a starting point for discussion."