Arqiva pulls the plug on internet TV arm SeeSaw

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The Independent Online

SeeSaw, the online video service, is set to close unless a buyer emerges in the next month after its parent company deemed it too costly to keep running.

Arqiva, the broadcast transmissions group, appealed for a partner in February to help carry the cost of the service, but revealed yesterday that it had been unsuccessful. SeeSaw will be shut or sold by Arqiva's financial year-end on 30 June.

A spokesman for the company said SeeSaw "no longer fits with the strategic direction in which we are taking Arqiva and requires considerable investment to succeed in an increasingly competitive market". He admitted that the business was unlikely to find a buyer.

Arqiva created SeeSaw out of the ashes of Project Kangaroo, anonline video-on-demand venture involving the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 which fell apart followingregulatory issues.

The acquisition was masterminded by the then chief executive, Tom Bennie, who said it was an "opportunistic and strategic decision". The site launched officially in February last year.

SeeSaw's position had comeincreasingly under threat after Mr Bennie was replaced by a former ITV senior manager, John Cresswell, in January. The new head launched a strategic review of the whole group.

Following an initial restructuring of Arqiva, SeeSaw was moved in house, which prompted the departure of the site's chief executive, Pierre-Jean Sebert, a former managing director of Eurosport in the UK, in March.

The Arqiva spokesman said: "SeeSaw was never a core business, it was more of a toe in the water. The industry has changed since we bought it, becoming more dynamic and competitive."

He said that beyond marketing, the investment needed to develop the service on other platforms and devices was just too significant.

The site put up a message to its users yesterday informing them about its imminent closure: "As it will soon be 'goodbye' from SeeSaw, we'd like to take this opportunity to say a big 'thanks' for all your support, custom and loyalty over the last 16 months."