By Jason Theodorou

Virgin Media has launched an official complaint with Ofcom, designed to stop the BBC-backed video on demand service Project Canvas. The challenge will be a new hurdle for Project Canvas, which has already been approved by the BBC Trust and Office for Fair Trading.

Project Canvas is a joint venture between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, BT, TalkTalk and Aviva. The Project aims to bring video on-demand services to television sets, without the need for a pay TV subscription or the use of a computer. It has been described as a combination of Freeview and the BBC iPlayer.

Virgin Media have said that the project is anti-competitive, and have described the project as the 'national health glasses' of the online world - a project that will make innovation difficult. Virgin Media said that Project Canvas will 'significantly and irreparably harm competition' in the video on-demand market, which contravenes the Competition Act 1998.

Virgin Media said in a statement: 'The Canvas partners have significantly exceeded their original claims to be creating a common set of open standards which could have been improved upon by others and are now intent on controlling every aspect of how people watch TV'.

'The BBC Trust has already acknowledged, but then completely ignored, the impact that Canvas will have on so many different organisations; from consumer electronics firms to software developers and enterprising new technology manufacturers to independent programme makers'.

If Ofcom decides to investigate Project Canvas, it will take years to conduct the full investigation - its recent investigation into the pay-TV market took three years. Ofcom could potentially draft the Office of Fair Trading into its investigations. If Ofcom did rule against Project Canvas, the decision would come after consumers had already signed up for services.

The BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust, gave permission to the organisation to participate in Project Canvas in June this year.

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