Kangaroo roll-out unveiled as search for boss continues

LONDON - Online VoD service Project Kangaroo, a tie-up between BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4, could be set for a March 2009 launch, but no permanent replacement for outgoing chief executive Ashley Highfield will be made until February, at the earliest.

Kanagaroo brings together ITV, Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide
Kanagaroo brings together ITV, Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide

Vodco, the holding company for the project, confirmed Kangaroo will go into Alpha testing in December, after the Commission's preliminary findings are published on 25 November, with a closed Beta testing phase beginning in January, a month before the Competition Commission publishes its final review.

Despite the full release of the service being due as early as March 2009, a replacement for Highfield is yet to be found, with Vodco stating that Rod Henwod, the former Channel 4 new business director and interim chief executive of Kangaroo, will remain in charge of the project until after the commission process concludes.

A spokesman for Kangaroo said: "The shareholders are now actively recruiting a new chief executive. This process will run concurrently with the Competition Commission process and an appointment will be announced post the final decision from the Competition Commission."

Talking exclusively to Media Week on Friday, Ashley Highfield said: "Someone will be appointed pending the outcome of the regulatory review in February 2009."

Highfield quit the project last week to join Microsoft, only four months after taking on the role. At Microsoft, he will be in charge of Consumer and Online, a new global organisation that brings together consumer-facing products and services across PC, mobile and internet platforms.

Henwood, who was responsible for launching Channel 4's catch-up service, 4oD, is currently the lead regulatory adviser for Kangaroo and will be supported in his interim chief executive role by Mark Kortekaas, chief technology officer, and Christine Mullin, chief financial officer.

On Highfield's departure last week, Ben McOwen Wilson, chairman of Project Kangaroo, said: "In Rod, Mark and Christine, we are confident that we have a management team of strength and depth that can deliver an outstanding product for UK consumers and advertisers, and will continue the ongoing priority of working with the Competition Commission through its process."

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