OFT to investigate Project Canvas

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is going to investigate Project Canvas, the video-on-demand (VOD) s

Although the project, which aims to bring VOD content to digital viewers through Freeview and Freesat, has been examined by the BBC Trust, it has as yet escaped scrutiny by a wider regulatory body.

The OFT will examine if the proposed service could amount to a merger between the venture's members and if that could affect competition. In case it finds that the competition is going to be impacted, the OFT may refer the case to the Competition Commission.

Critics of Project Canvas such as Sky and Virgin Media have already called for Ofcom to conduct a market impact assessment of the proposed service. BSkyB has objected to the venture, saying it will distort the market and starve consumers of choice.

The OFT consultation ends on 7 April. Project Canvas is a joint venture between the terrestrial broadcasters and internet service providers. It is backed by the BBC, British Telecom (BT), Talk Talk, Channel Four, Five and ITV. The infrastructure company Arqiva, which owns SeeSaw, has also joined the group.