BBC hires Alan Sugar to ‘cure or kill’ YouView

25/03/2011

The BBC and other UK broadcasters have hired Lord Alan Sugar to attempt to save the embattled YouView internet-connected set top box venture. The business entrepreneur and star of TVs ‘The Apprentice’ was brought on board two weeks ago with a mandate to “cure or kill” the venture.

25/03/2011

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YouView (formely known as Project Canvas) will let viewers with broadband enabled sets access to video-on-demand content from BBC ITV and C4, in partnership with technology firms Arqiva, BT and TalkTalk.

Because YouView uses broadband, it will be able to bring catch-up TV, on-demand services and web applications to living rooms for the cost of the set-top box with no subscription fee.

It has twice been delayed after mooted launch sale dates. The service was originally scheduled in to go live in the first half of 2011 but the joint venture will have a product in trial by the end of 2011, with a full consumer launch to follow by early 2012.

Project Canvas attracted criticism from several quarters that the joint venture was anti-competitive, but it has been approved by the BBC's independent regulator, the BBC Trust while Ofcom said it will not be investigating the project.

The project has cost lead, the BBC, in excess of £6 million so far.

The UK Telegraph quoted one senior executive as saying : "Lord Sugar will either cure or kill off YouView. He has been brought on board by Richard Desmond [the owner of Channel Five] to cut through all the nonsense which has been continually delaying the launch and actually get the thing to work and be on sale as soon as possible".

A company spokesperson said: "Lord Sugar is committed to the successful launch of YouView to UK homes. There is no change to YouView's launch date or technology strategy."

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