New internet TV service YouView ups stakes in free-to-air battle

One of the unsung heroes of the UK broadcasting market is Freeview, the free-to-air digital channel developed by the BBC under former director-general Greg Dyke.

Now Freeview is being taken a step further with a consortium of broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five planning to launch a free-to-air internet-connected service, YouView. YouView is an update of Project Canvas, a scheme which was rejected on competition grounds by UK regulators in one of their more bizarre decisions.

YouView will be taking on some heavyweight rivals including Google, Apple and Sony which are all about to launch wired TV services. Sony’s device includes the BBC iPlayer, a key component of YouView.

Pay-TV operator Virgin Media is trying to play party pooper, objecting to the plans on the grounds that YouView will stifle the market for internet-connected TVs, which it doesn’t currently offer.

This is arrant nonsense, why should UK TV viewers be denied free-to-air internet-connected TVs just to suit a struggling cable operator?

YouView will be led by BBC Freeview veteran Richard Halton.

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