Project Canvas approved by BBC Trust
The BBC trust has today approved Project Canvas following a regulatory process which started in February 2009. Canvas is a joint venture between the BBC, ITV, Channel4, Five, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva to develop a common standard platform to allow the viewing of Internet content on a television via a set top box. This would allow freeview viewers to connect a device to their broadband connection and then use this to watch things like BBC iPlayer through their TV.
"The Trust has concluded that Project Canvas will deliver significant public value for licence fee payers - people with a broadband connection will be able to access a wide range of on-demand content including BBC iPlayer, free of charge, through their TV sets. We have however applied a number of conditions to the BBC's involvement in the venture in recognition of the potential impacts on the market if Canvas is successful."Diane Coyle, BBC Trustee / Chair of BBC Trust Strategic Approvals Committee
The approval comes with a number of conditions of BBC involvement relating to different aspects:
- Industry Engagement - The Canvas technical specifications need to be published within 20 days of this approval and the partners must engage industry on these and future technical specifications. The final specifications for the set-top box must be published eight months before the launch of the unit
- Free-to-air - Users will be able to access content which is free-to-air although there may be optional additional content that is paid for
- Accessibility and usability - Relevant features such as audio description should be incorporated into the core technical specification or user interface as soon as is reasonably possible.
- Access to the platform for content providers and ISPs - Entry controls for technical and content standards will be minimised and access will not be bundled with other products or services. Quality standards for ISPs delivering Canvas will be set at a minimum level.
- Legal Compliance - Canvas will comply with all applicable laws including competition and state aid.
- Cost - The BBC's involvement will not exceed the estimated costs from the Executive by more than 20% over a five year period
A full list of conditions and the final conclusions document from the Trust can be found here. Project Canvas have welcomed the news with open arms.
"We are delighted by today's news. The BBC Trust has subjected the proposals to the highest level of scrutiny and the findings reflect over a year of consultation and debate. The partners will work through the final conclusions and conditions and step up our engagement with the wider industry as we plan towards a consumer launch.
"Project Canvas will safeguard the future of the UK's free-to-air TV platforms and allow new business models to thrive through an open, internet-connected, TV platform. This brings the benefits of next-generation TV to all consumers, including those who choose not to subscribe to pay-TV. We look forward to rising to that challenge."Richard Halton, (Project Director) Project Canvas