Kangaroo referred to U.K. watchdog

VOD venture opposed by BSkyB, Virgin Media

LONDON -- Britain's leading broadcasters have hit out at the decision to refer the yet-to-launch ITV/BBC/Channel4 VOD platform Kangaroo to antitrust body the Competition Commission, delaying its launch by at least six months while the review collects evidence.

The Office of Fair Trading said Monday (June 30) that it had decided to refer the platform because it might prove anti-competitive for so much popular U.K. VOD content to be consolidated on a single platform.

The OFT also said it did not have enough evidence to judge whether the venture would be able to dominate advertising and program pricing because of the lack of effective competition.

"In reaching its decision, the OFT carefully considered all evidence as to whether the joint venture would face enough competition from other sources," the regulatory body said in a statement, adding that Kangaroo's library would be "the largest and richest source of TV content" in the U.K.

The creation of Kangaroo has been opposed by such ventures as Virgin Media, BSkyB and online venture Joost.

But ITV's executive chairman Michael Grade has hit out at the regulator, saying the OFT was crushing the nascent British venture while allowing non-U.K. ventures such as Google and Apple to "to build market dominating positions online in the U.K. without so much as a regulatory murmur."