Broadband News

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


"Quality standards for ISPs delivering Canvas will be set at a minimum level."

So, that's BT off the hook then :p

  • TonyHoyle
  • over 10 years ago

So this service is delivered through the internet? Most ISPs severely restrict the monthly bandwidth allowances. And many of BTs copper lines are not up to this kind of load. Just see the recent fiasco of BTs 21CN network unable to cope with the football world cup and Wimbledon!

  • JNeuhoff
  • over 10 years ago

Unable to cope or ISP's not buying enough bandwidth to cope? Two very different things.

  • GMAN99
  • over 10 years ago

quote"Unable to cope or ISP's not buying enough bandwidth to cope? Two very different things."

LOL BT there self could not even cope with the England football match...... "MINIMUM level" TonyHoyle is right thats BT off the hook and another Carp partial BT based service to avoid.

  • over 10 years ago

Err BT Total or A.N.Other ISP the same applies - not buying enough capacity from BT Wholesale. I'm willing to bet that 21CN wasn't all that stressed - but ISPs connections in to it were. BT Total still has to buy capacity like everyone else - and non of them will buy enough to cope with ease with such high peaks as they'd make a loss the rest of the year, simple economics.

  • KarlAustin
  • over 10 years ago

Internet connections unless are fiber to the home and something like 100mbps should not be used to watch tv, i have set top box,it receives a signal transmitted to it from a big powerful transmitter, so why use the Internet and overload it just to watch tv ? another stupid idea

  • tommy45
  • over 10 years ago

quote"I'm willing to bet that 21CN wasn't all that stressed"

I hope you didnt bet your house.
quote"At present around 35 of the 71 BRAS's used for 21CN are thought to be affected in some way."

  • over 10 years ago

Suddenly everyone who has a broadband connection will have to pay the BBC tax (AKA as the TV Lience).

  • Oddball
  • over 10 years ago


Those transmitters take away valuable spectrum from other potential services (mobile broadband) and theres way more channels/content online.

  • otester
  • over 10 years ago

I won't be paying no BBc tax for broadband, they can stuff that, since I will not be using Project canvas or what ever it will be called, as long as Talk Talk have got their smelly feet under the table I will stay well clear.

  • zyborg47
  • over 10 years ago

Well I am already viewing the BBC iPlayer on my tv, via my Internet connected Freesat box, all free as usual.

  • m0aur
  • over 10 years ago

Ith only way Canvas will work now is if it runs via the stt top box ONLY, INCLUDED IN THE LICENCE COST.
It looks like all ISP's will have bandwidth allowancws by then. If you want a connection without restriction the ISP charge will be high, of if it's BT even higher.

  • kingswearcastle
  • over 10 years ago

@tommy45 - but many customers have "unlimited broadband" - and not unreasonably, expect to make use of it :-)

  • MarkHampshire
  • over 10 years ago


I could not see any statement in the Project Canvas announcement which would require a broadband connection to require a TV license. I would imagine that the same rules for using iPlayer would apply to Project Canvas. If the service is solely used for catch up no license is required however should you wish to view live to air broadcasts you need a license.

  • TGVrecord
  • over 10 years ago

I meant that as sarcasm. I can see it leading to that in the future.

  • Oddball
  • over 10 years ago

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