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Project Canvas gets green light from BBC Trust
Tuesday 22 December 2009 14:00:56 by John Hunt

The BBC trust has today given provisional approval for Project Canvas to go ahead following its lengthy consultation period. The aim of Canvas is to develop and promote a common standard that would allow TV viewers with a broadband connection to watch content from the Internet such as BBC iPlayer or other on demand services. Canvas is currently made up of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT and TalkTalk and have recently expressed an interest in inviting further people to join the group.

The BBC decision didn't come without conditions. An obvious concern is the cost of the project, but developing a new technology in this way comes with some uncertainties. Accordingly, the Trust has set a 20% cap on expenditure over the estimated amount per year, above which the BBC executive will have to seek Trust approval to spend more.

The trust also want to ensure industry engagement to guarantee a standards based system is developed that will allow manufacturers to develop Canvas based devices. This can be achieved specifically by:

Canvas publishing the core technical specification well in advance of the planned Canvas launch date in order to provide sufficient opportunities for the widest range of manufacturers to adapt to the Canvas core technical standards should they wish. We would expect that it would be sufficient for manufacturers to receive this information eight months ahead of launch;

Canvas using its best endeavours to develop the Canvas core technical specification with wide industry engagement and to achieve industry consensus for it; and

the Executive returning to the Trust within 12 months of the date of final approval or within 3 months of launch - whichever is the sooner - and at regular intervals thereafter in order to report in detail on the results of Canvas' engagement with industry about the Canvas core technical standards.

The Trust also want to maintain the free-to-air portion of Canvas to be always available, but without the detriment to other business models that may wish to use Canvas. Additionally, some accessibility and usability features have been requested.

Canvas welcomed the decision from the BBC Trust.

"As a partnership comprising of both public service and profit-making businesses, we believe project canvas can be a significant enabling force for the UK’s creative digital economy and we welcome today's announcement.

"By creating an open environment for internet-connected TV we open the door for a wide range of important online public services to reach TV audiences, and support a competitive open marketplace for commercial digital services.

"By creating an open platform based on the free-to-air principles that enabled Freeview and Freesat to take the benefits of digital TV to a wider audience, we now have an opportunity to offer consumers real choice over how they access and enjoy digital content in the future."

Richard Halton, (Director) Project Canvas


Posted by meldrew over 7 years ago
I wonder how much discussion there has been between the Canvas team and the ISPs? I would be interested to know who will pay for the required bandwidth as demand will increase exponentially.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
I dont see any need for discussion about bandwidth, there are already similar boxes available, such as
everyone also said iplayer would stall it hasnt. Only people which could suffer are those on monthly cap broadband deals, if they want more they will have to pay more, i see nothing wrong with that.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
There are 1TB/fully unlimited options on BT exchanges which cost ~£80.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
None of the people I know in rural areas can watch iPlayer without constant buffering. will project canvas be any different? Many can't even download the download program to watch a programme later via iPlayer. Unless the infrastructure has an upgrade only the few homes next to the exchanges will be able to get any benefit from Canvas.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Infrastructure is a providers problem, moan at them ;) I could watch iplayer fine on a fixed 1Mb connection. As to having to live next to the exchange, hardly a solid 2Mb (preferably higher obviously) should be more than enough, it is for things like sky player.
Posted by bearfreeman over 7 years ago
I have a 5.25km line length to my 'local' exchange, and a 500k speed, which is pretty much useless for video, youtube buffers constantly..
Posted by mikeblogs over 7 years ago
I am glad to see someone other than BT is involved. I just hope the delivery of content to these boxes is not tied explicitly to the BT 21C Qos options.

I hope the Canvas box cam be utilised for two-way not just one way delivery of video.

Interesting opportunity, I hope the WSD (NHS)community get involved.
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