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UK Open Broadband TV Standard Project Canvas Scalded by Digital TV Group

Posted: 05th Feb, 2010 By: MarkJ
online videoProject Canvas, an open standard that aims to deliver UK broadband TV services directly into homes via ISPs and special IPTV set-top-boxes, now faces a new set of problems after the Digital TV Group (DTG) suddenly expressed "widespread concern" at the last moment.

The project is part of a joint venture between TV broadcasters and broadband Internet Service Providers (ISP), most prominently including the BBC, ITV, BT, TalkTalk, Channel 4 and Channel Five. Canvas would essentially allow IPTV and online video services , such as the BBC's iPlayer , to be viewed via TV sets. It would also bolt-on traditional Freeview TV channels and recording capabilities (the set-top-boxes could cost up to £200).

Canvas is currently awaiting approval from the BBC Trust, which is expected to come soon; the Trust closed its final consultation earlier this week. If the proposals are approved then partners would form a new joint venture to develop technical specifications for devices with the Digital Television Group (DTG).

Unfortunately that now looks less likely after DTG, which represents everybody from set-top-box manufacturers (Sony, Pace etc.) to media companies like Sky and Virgin Media, accused Project Canvas of developing its own standard away from the wider industry.

DTG's Submission to the BBC Trust said:

"There remains widespread concern in the industry that there is a parallel process in place with a Canvas specification being developed by the joint venture and its innovation partners separately from, and regardless of, the DTG's Connected TV specification work."

DTG claims a significant number of its members have raised concerns, though Project Canvas has its doubts about that. Virgin Media and Sky have been known to express opposition, which is hardly surprising because both have similarly competitive platforms to consider.

It's understood that DTG is concerned about the impact that Project Canvas could have on competition in a fledgling broadband TV market. The group is also seeking further details on Canvas's search, content delivery and user interface (UI) systems.
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