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Virgin eyes legal challenge to Canvas

Set to request Ofcom probe

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Virgin Media looks set to formally complain about Project Canvas to communications watchdog Ofcom, The Times reports today.

Virgin believes Project Canvas, which is developing a standard framework for the delivery of IPTV services, is anti-competitive and presumably fears it will dissuade punters from subscribing to the hundreds of channels it offers over its cable TV network and clog up the broadband links it sells as an ISP.

Project Canvas' plan is to create a system that allows content providers to create a single front-end which can be accessed by any Canvas-capable hardware. Manufacturers of consumer electronics kit only need to implement Canvas to provide their customers with all Canvas-compatible services, which need not be free to view.

As its stands, vendors and service providers have to implement device-specific versions of offerings like YouTube, Lovefilm, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook etc, and that's slowing the roll-out of such services to everything from tellies to set-top boxes.

If Virgin does make a formal complaint, it could delay Canvas even further. As it stands, Canvas isn't expected to go live until Spring 2011, and an Ofcom investigation could push this back six months or more.

Assuming, of course, Ofcom decides an investigation is warranted, and that's by no means certain. ®

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