The video-on-demand joint venture between BBC, ITV and Channel 4, codenamed Kangaroo, is reported to be preparing to launch in June. News of the planned launch leaked after BBC Worldwide approached advertising companies regarding the project.

The launch plan for the service from the British broadcasters apparently emerged following a meeting between sales executives representing the commercial arm of the BBC and media buying agencies.

The planned service, which has yet to be officially named, will act as a portal for more than 10,000 hours of programming from the three broadcasters.

Five, the other main terrestrial channel, is preparing to relaunch its own download service but is still in discussions about joining the Kangaroo consortium. Satellite broadcaster BSkyB and cable competitor Virgin Media are notably not part of the project.

If Kangaroo is able to build its own brand and place the common concerns of its constituent partners over their respective interests, it could become the Freeview of broadband in Britain.

Launching in June undoubtedly represents a challenge, not least to identify, clear, ingest and encode the programming required to populate a compelling proposition.

All three partners already have their own online video properties, which they will continue to maintain. A common factor in each case is ioko, the systems integrator that has been involved in building them and could yet bring them together.

It is understood that the Channel 4 service may provide a template for the online video portal. The 4oD online service has delivered 100 million streams and downloads since its launch two years ago. Usage has risen by over 100% since the BBC started promoting its own iPlayer, which delivered 11 million programmes in January.

Programming available through the iPlayer will soon be searchable using the blinkx video search engine.

“The BBC’s remit is to make its content as widely available as possible to everyone in the UK,” said Ashley Highfield, its director of future media and technology. “We are therefore committed to reaching out to audiences’ wherever they are and on whatever platforms they chose to access our services.”

It remains to be seen whether this will extend to allowing advertisers to place commercials around BBC programming. BBC Worldwide already distributes channels internationally that carry advertising and now presents adverts on the BBC web site to overseas visitors.