A joint BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 initiative to supply programmes online via one player has been blocked by the Competition Commission.
The project, known as ‘Kangaroo’, has been years in the planning, but the commission decided that it posed ‘too much of a threat to competition’.
According to BBC Online, the commission said Project Kangaroo ‘has to be stopped’ and that viewers would benefit if the three were ‘close competitors’ rather than allies.
But the broadcasters responded that ‘the real losers from this decision are the British consumers’.
Kangaroo proposed to sell current shows from C4 and ITV and archived BBC shows.
Commission chairman Peter Freeman said that, as the broadcasters controlled most programmes produced in the UK, the project could stop other on-demand video services developing.
“The three joint venture partners are the largest TV companies in this country and you would normally expect them to compete with each other on a thing like this,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“And we’re not against the exciting invention – that’s great – but there are lots of other people who can offer it.
“All we’re saying is that we don’t think these three people should do it together.”
ITV chairman and chief executive Michael Grade said he was surprised by the decision because he believed Kangaroo, ‘in a crowded online world against dominant global brands, was an attractive UK consumer proposition’.
The BBC’s iPlayer already offers current shows for free while ITV does the same via its ITV.com website, as does Channel 4 via its 4oD service.