Friday, October 1 2010,
BT TalkTalk ArqivaDigital TVA group of local TV operators have written to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt expressing their concern that YouView will "hijack the fledgling local TV market".
In a letter to the minister, published in The Times, the 14 organisations called for a "thorough competition investigation" into the IPTV platform.
YouView, which counts the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva as its partners, will aim to upgrade the Freeview and Freesat platforms to support video on-demand and internet services when it launches next year.
The letter's signatories - including the KM Group, City Broadcasting, Somerset Film, The UK Entertainment Channel, Channel 9, NvTv and the Institute Of Local Television - believe that the venture is an "attempt by some of the biggest players to hijack the fledgling local TV market".
Hunt recently singled out YouView as offering exciting opportunities for the new generation of local media services that he wants to foster in the UK.
The letter notes that connected television could help local media operators to more easily deliver their services directly to new audiences.
However, it also expresses concern that the YouView partners currently control three quarters of TV viewing and the UK's entire digital terrestrial television transmission network. That means they could use YouView to "impose their own vision" on how television services should be delivered and "dictate the viewers' experience".
"The joint venture partners will control all aspects of the platform and its operational policies. If any third parties wish to participate, they will have to do so on the terms dictated to them by the UK's largest free-to-air broadcasters," the letter said.
"The lack of any thorough independent scrutiny of YouView to date, and the fundamental absence of any meaningful checks and balances, means the platform should not be unleashed without a thorough competition investigation."
The signatories also include Six TV and United for Local Television, which have both submitted separate complaints about YouView to media regulator Ofcom.
Yesterday, Looking Local - an eGov project that delivers public information on interactive TV services - gave its backing for YouView and pledged to use the platform "at the earliest opportunity".
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