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Catch-up TV service gets go-ahead after competition probe row

A joint catch-up TV service venture involving the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Five has cleared a regulatory hurdle, with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) deciding not to investigate merger issues around the project.

The OFT decided it does not have jurisdiction to review Project Canvas, which is also backed by BT, Talk Talk and Arqiva, under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002.

Project Canvas would put more catch-up services on TV and could potentially allow viewers to shop and download music on the small screen.

Viewers would have to pay for a set-top box and would need broadband to use the service but they would not need to pay additional subscription for the content. They could also view other internet content on their TVs if websites adapt their content for use on a TV rather than a PC.

Last year, the Competition Commission blocked Project Kangaroo, a video-on-demand initiative by ITV, BBC Worldwide and Channel 4. The OFT referred the venture to the Commission amid concerns that it could give the partners involved too much muscle over prices for their own content.

But the OFT said Project Canvas differed from Project Kangaroo.