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BBC Trust Approves FREE Open Broadband ISP TV Standard Project Canvas

Posted: 26th Jun, 2010 By: MarkJ
online uk videoThe BBC Trust has, as expected, given its provisional approval to Project Canvas, which aims to deliver an open UK standard for delivering subscription-free broadband TV services directly into homes via your broadband ISP and special set-top-boxes. However the service will need to be reviewed again in the future, 12 months after its commercial launch.

Canvas is a Joint Venture (JV) between TV broadcasters and Internet Service Providers (ISP), including the BBC , ITV , BT , TalkTalk , Channel 4 , Arqiva and Channel Five. However it has received opposition from Sky Broadband (BSkyB) and most notably Virgin Media (here).

Contrary to the goals of Canvas, Virgin Media claims that the JV project has actually sought to dominate their own platform and therefore make it almost impossible to accept without unfair concessions. Sky has similar gripes.

However the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has already thrown out its investigation of the system because it did not have jurisdiction to review Canvas under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002.

The BBC Trust's Diane Coyle told the BBC UK News:

"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."
The trust's conditions:

•Viewers must be able to watch BBC programmes without a subscription.

•The BBC must report on whether accessibility features, such as audio description, have been incorporated in the system.

•The Trust will review the signposting of content and parental controls at a later date.

•Technical specifications must be published within 20 working days of the Trust's approval, to allow broadcasters and set-top box manufacturers to adapt to the Canvas standard.

•The final core specifications must be published no later than eight months before set-top boxes are launched.

•Other broadcasters and content providers must have access to the platform.

•A Trust review, 12 months after its launch, will assess the effects Canvas has on the partner's incentives to syndicate their content to other platforms.

•The BBC will need further approval if costs exceed those projected by more than 20% in any one year.
The BBC Trust believes that Project Canvas will deliver significant public value for licence-fee payers, though much will depend on whether it can resolve the problems it has with Sky and Virgin before it’s too late. Legal action is not out of the question.
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