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ITV, C4, Five Jointly File In Court Against TVCatchup, Who’s Next?

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We’ve covered TV re-streaming services like Zattoo and TVCatchup for the last couple of years now and, regardless of any opinions those services think we have about their legality, it’s always been a case of when – rather than if – the broadcasters would object.

We’ve charted the broadcasters’ response, in that period – from a kind of shoulder shrug, to not being particularly happy, to each, when we last spoke in April, telling us that Zattoo was behaving illegally.

The BBC convinced Zattoo to remove its channels. Now, as ITV (LSE: ITV), Channel 4 and Five’s last statements suggested, they are actually doing something about the other operator.

In a joint statement confirming FT’s story, they tell us…

“ITV, Channel 4 and Five can confirm that they issued joint legal proceedings against TVCatchup, a web-based TV streaming service.

TVCatchup do not have a content distribution agreement in place to stream content from any of our channels. We reserve the right to pursue any site or service we believe to be infringing our copyright or using our content in an unlicensed, illegal capacity.”

So, with hours to go before the World Cup kicks off in what ITV hopes will be a boon for its audience ad impressions, things have quickly moved beyond the cease-and-desist stage.

Such services have claimed they are allowed to re-stream UK public service channels because they qualify as cable operators, which are allowed to re-air the channels under section 73 of the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act.

It’s a lot less controversial than TVCatchup’s original incarnation as a supposed web-based PVR – but the practice of inserting ads in to the period before channels load up was always likely to rile the broadcasters.

But ITV simulcasts its channels live at itself and is planning to simulcast to iPhone starting with the World Cup, which is forecast to add between one and two percent to commercial channels’ ad income this summer according to Screen Digest. Indeed, ITV is now properly looking at cross-selling ads across and TV.

We don’t know what kind of legal action has been filed, but it may be for an injunction. In which case, it’s quite literally a bit late in the day to be taking action that’s aimed at maximising World Cup income.

Zattoo, which has always been stronger in its native Switzerland, even has some formal carriage agreements with continental broadcasters. There’s plenty of opportunity for more TVCatchup strife – it currently carries a total 38 channels.

Our opinion: a legal hearing is necessary to clear up the uncertainty, whatever the result. Like Zattoo, TVCatchup’s users certainly value the service being there – it may be that it’s entirely right that third parties can re-air publicly-funded or otherwise public service channels as widely as possible, with certain provisos.

Other similar services, like mobile TV restreamer Yamgo, may also find themselves the subject of broadcaster attention.

But, Channel 4 tells paidContent:UK: “Not as this stage. We are aware of, and are in correspondence with, certain other unauthorised services.”

27 Responses to “ITV, C4, Five Jointly File In Court Against TVCatchup, Who’s Next?”

  1. what is tv catchup doing that is so wrong i work in a building doing security and do not have access to a tv just a laptop with no tv card .so i watch what i can on tv catchup exactly what i would be doin if it was a normal tv so braudcasters get your head out of your arses and get with the times we the people without access to a tv need this service and i pay for my tv licence at home so i have the right to watch your stuff

  2. Pstandsforpaul

    Analogue now switched off in my region, I have paid over £100 for a new ariel and yet I still cant watch TV! TVCATCHUP.COM is like a god send to me, it is the only way I can watch TV! The BBC, ITV etc should find time to ‘google’ their channel streams and see exactly how many internet TV companies (both UK and international) are charging a set up fee / monthly subscription to view these ‘free to air channels’.

    Yes…they show an advert before the stream begins… I would seriously doubt that the revenue from these advertisements would cover anything more than site maintenance, hosting/admin fees.


  3. NotMark

    The evidence for TVCatchup running VPNs is compeling, and its not just the name of the owner, or the fact that the VPN servers were on the same network as TVCatchup’s servers, even though that would be pretty damning in itself.

    How about the same VPN company acquiring email addresses for the people TVCatchup blocked the very same day? How about the VPN company being ‘sold’ as soon as a stink was made of the insidious nature of all this?

    The repeated denials, all no doubt emanating from TVCatchup, are tiresome – you’ve been rumbled and from what I’m hearing, C4 in particular are going to ensure the truth comes out in court anyway.

    The decision to remove the comments, which are recorded for posterity here (, was shocking. I hope the journalistic instinct here finally recovers.

  4. Mark, what proof is there that tvcatchup were even involved in any vpn?

    The ramblings of some schizo with a grudge using numerous names on a forum? A load of heresay? Hell, I could register a website called this afternoon in the name of Barrak Obamo, but it doesn’t mean to say that he actually had anything to do with it.

    Generally I agree with what you say Mark, but a sad t’osser saying the same thing posted under different names in a forum doesn’t exactly amount to evidence of any wrongdoing in my book. So a few VPNs worked with tvcatchup? Big flaming deal. They don’t now, and yet they all work with the BBC and ITV websites. Does that mean that the BBC and ITV are all VPN owners? I rather think not.

    Time for a reality check and for these trolls to choke on their own spew and for PC to start acting like the professionals they aspire to be

  5. MrNobody

    Well said, Mark. So Mr Smith owns a domain name with ‘vpn’ in the title, yet with nothing actually hosted there. Big f’ing deal. My employer provides a VPN for my use, I use it whenever I’m away from my desk, and tvcatchup works on it, but I don’t see anyone starting a manhunt for them. Go crawl back in the hole you came from.

  6. Then what are your true motives in this jack/Chadster/OnLooker/Charles/ because you all seem to be spewing the same bull lol

    All we want is fantastic service to survive for all the users and it seems your only selfish motives are to bring it down out of some personal vendetta get a life you sad prick.

  7. Well Ismael of course it doesn’t mean that ITV and the BBC own proxy companies but then there has never been any evidence of that has there? There has been evidence put forward by multiple people here that TVCatchup is doing that. Just look at the link Chadster has provided and what happened:

    1. Evidence is posted showing is owned by Adam Smith the co-owner of TVCatchup.
    2. FASTVPN is instantly terminated and redirects to
    3. A check shows that Inviba is a web firm owned by the same Adam Smith who owns TVCatchup.

    What I think is hilarious is all these posts all over the web defending TVCatchup and saying they are innocent when the evidence is there for everyone to see.

    If I wanted to make money out of TVCatchup I can think of much better ways of doing it than putting ads before the streams. Shutting out rival VPN providers so that I am the only one providing the VPN service seems a great way to make money.

    Now lets see how long it takes for me to be accused of being the same person as previous posters * sigh.

  8. Ismael

    TVC worked for me via a proxy from Spain, they killed that. They then killed VPN access, but I can still use proxies and VPNs to access BBC and ITV sites. Does that mean that BBC and ITV own proxy companies or VPN operations?

    Of course it doesn’t. I suspect that “Charles” and “Onlooker” are one and the same, probably a dodgy little backstreet VPN operator whose services have been blocked by TVC.

  9. Chadster

    Well I was going to say to the guy above that I live in Chicago and used FASTVPN.COM to access TVCatchup and BBC iplayer no problem but it seems that since these accusaions started flying the site has been removed and redirects to which is registered to Adam Smith the co-founder of TVCatchup.

    So, yeah. Obviously TVCatchup’s owners aren’t running VPN’s, no evidence at all. Move along please….

  10. It seems to me that there is a personal vendetta here and I wonder if Charles and OnLooker are the same person.
    I was an early user of TVCatchup (and yes I live in Puławy Poland as I am sure the mods can check my IP along with the two/one individual/s above) and originally I used a VPN to gain access to TVCatchup and I can tell you categorically that after three months of searching there is NO VPN that will allow you to view TVCatchup and every VPN operator will tell you the same ask them yourself.
    Why do I care?
    I care because this service has the potential of lifting the geo-blocking one day and broadcasting across the EU and as far as I see this is the only platform that can possible do this.
    What I cannot understand is the personal attack of individuals that would rob the opportunity of this from millions of people and that to me is just selfish and narrow-minded.
    I worked in the City for many years and you show me one company that doesn’t have some shady operations, there are none.
    So for something that was done many years ago even before TVC was around along with no VPN’s that work, who the hell cares about your personal petty vendettas, all we care about as customers is viewing free TV on one of the best services that anyone has seen in years.

  11. OnLooker

    I agree with Charles.

    The deleted comments were spot on (Tv catchup has severe and probably terminal legal difficulties which are a matter of public record).

    The deleted comments were directly relevant to these legal difficulties and its background, and were supported by a very large number of pieces of evidence (I followed the links and was very impressed by the depth and relevance, thoroughness and factual accuracy). I doubt whether many articles in Paid Content are supported by such well researched background material.

    I am sorry that Paid Content appear to have allowed Nick Parr aka R.Sole to have the truth censored in this way.

  12. Charles

    I read the comments here on another site that had copied them but I thought I would reply here seeing as this is the original source. Seems like the mod has decided they are a no go though which is strange because if it is true that TVCatchup is running a VPN service allowing expats to access it from outside the UK then that is undoubtedly a news worthy story and is undoubtedly about the subject matter of the original post which is TVCatchup.

    I could care less about the other accusations made earlier but I am interested in this VPN angle. Will PC be investigating this further and producing a story or is it just not interested in this angle?

  13. The comments here are beginning to stray far from the story we’re covering. We have removed those comments.

    However, this space remains open to comments that are about the company and are on-topic. To the commenter in question – please feel free to email me, anonymously if you wish, to discuss.

  14. R.Sole

    When is this mindless unrelated vendetta going to be expunged from the record?

    When is Paid Content going to start adhering to its own posting rules?

  15. tellyaddict, yeah and you know how lack their security is that all you need is a proxy to start the stream off on ITV, get the stream playing turn it off and then play at full strength bandwidth, best kept expat secret around lol

  16. tellyaddict

    I wonder if they will go after all those internet TV services and VPNs networks that offer UK TV via internet to all UK expats in the rest of the world next. Theres plenty of them about – and even TVcatchup dont offer their services outside UK!

  17. Disgruntled UK Viewer

    Whata a prize bunch of dicks. All tvcatchup are doing is allowing our latops to be a television set – its not like they broadcasting pay for view or anything.

    Whats Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 going to do next – sue comet for selling televisions.

    What a bunch of nob wipes.


    No, “jessica”, the BBC arn’t part of this.
    They would have no basis to file a complaint except copyright anyway, as they are funded by the licence fee.

  19. TV Bore

    I love Catchup. Just becasue braodcasters can’t gert their act together they have to punish a company that does. Surely it would be better for broadcasters to enter into agreements with these companies and maximise the number of users and viewers.

  20. Hedonist

    No a bad blog, TVCatchup offers exactly the same service to exactly the same audience who are already entitled to view the content, so what is all the fuss about?ITV are simply planning to screw even more money out of advertising to add to their dubious product placement income by copying TVCatchup on to the internet.

  21. I think its disgusting that they’re going after TVcatchup, where i live i’m lucky if i can receive channels 1-4, never been able to get channel 5, and freeview reception is a joke.

    Sure i could hunt down half a dozen streams across the internet for a similar effect, but TVC is a clean design, easy to see whats on, and the only adverts you see are pre rolls when you change a channel (adverts from TVC that is, still have to deal with the normal telly ads). If ITV, C4 etc had any sense they’d simply come to a deal to get viewing figures on they’re channels so they can claim the ad revenue they may be missing out on.