BBC gets green light over Project Canvas

Broadband TV initiative given the thumbs up

Broadband TV initiative given the thumbs up

The BBC's involvement in the Project Canvas IPTV initiative has been given a provisional green light.

First announced by the BBC, BT and ITV in December 2008, Canvas is aiming to create a common standard to bring on-demand TV to UK households through broadband-enabled set-top boxes. The hope is to launch the platform by the end of 2010.

Channel 4 recently became the final free-to-air broadcaster to join the project after Five got on board in June this year.

How Project Canvas might look

How Canvas might look
(Image credit: BBC)

The BBC's independent regulator the BBC Trust has been looking into Canvas for some time, finally giving its approval to the BBC's involvement in the project in an announcement today.

Chair of the BBC Trust's Strategic Approvals Committee, Diana Coyle, added in a statement: "After careful consideration, the Trust has provisionally concluded that Canvas is likely to benefit licence fee payers. We believe Canvas could be an important part of the way in which the BBC delivers its services in the future."

However, the Trust has proposed several conditions for the BBC's participation in the project to make sure it delivers public value and limits any adverse impact on the wider market.

The main conditions are that the technical specifications for Canvas should be published well before launch of the service so manufacturers have a chance to adapt their products, and access to the platform must be "on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms".

Other conditions around the project stipulate that Canvas must always being available without a subscription and that if the costs incurred by the BBC exceed those projected by more than 20 per cent in any given year, the corporation must return to the Trust for further approval.

"These conditions are designed to help secure the public value we identified and to help minimise, where possible, any potential harmful effects on the market," Coyle added.

There will now be a period, during which the Trust's provisional conclusions are subject to further consultation, which is due to end on 2 February 2010. A final decision will then be made by the BBC Trust.