BBC Worldwide, ITV (LSE: ITV) and Channel 4 will know much more about how, or if, they can go ahead with their Kangaroo VOD venture on Wednesday, when the Competition Commission publishes a summary of its provisional conclusion on the proposal. The provisional conclusion itself is due later this week, with the final verdict due by February 8 or sooner, the commission confirmed to paidContent:UK.
If the provisional conclusion finds no problem with the proposal, opponents will still get an opportunity to respond to the finding but the final report will be brought forward from February and the trio of broadcasters will be able to accelerate their plans, confident they can continue largely as planned. But if a problem is revealed tomorrow, as well as rivals’ feedback, Kangaroo will have to propose ways of satisfying the commission’s concerns in a “remedy hearing”.
We understand Kangaroo, which has been in constant contact with the commission, has already sought to assuage some fears during the course of the inquiry by revising its earlier desire for exclusivity on TV shows. But even a positive outcome won’t be the end of it – BBC Worldwide’s involvement will have to go through the increasingly hard-nosed BBC Trust.
Find the verdict at paidContent:UK after 7am Wednesday.
All of which will happen under the steam of interim CEO Rod Henwood, the Kangaroo regulatory adviser who was upped following the departure to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) of Ashley Highfield, who had been set for a handover period with Henwood. Highfield at Mipcom last month said the service was being developed regardless of the inquiry, targeting a December closed beta test, a date subsequent reports have moved back to January.
The Office of Fair Trading, to which Kangaroo referred itself in April, frustrated the JV partners in June when it asked the commission to rule on whether Kangaroo would operate as a cartel that could unfairly set rates for wholesale VOD TV and for advertising, leading to higher consumer prices. The investigation has heard just such concerns from Joost, Arts Alliance Media, advertisers’ body IPA and TV producers umbrella PACT. But Kangaroo has rejected the complaints, arguing against a link between rights for linear and VOD TV, claiming it will have an insignificant share of UK web ads and stressing 90 percent of shows will be free to view.