Project Canvas has been given the final go-ahead by the BBC Trust, and work on the IPTV standard and associated set-top boxes can finally proceed.
However, BSkyB and Virgin Media still aren’t happy, and are looking to continue the fight against the joint venture.
Project Canvas, likely to be renamed YouView (an amalgam of YouTube and Freeview) before launch, is the proposed IPTV standard which could bring on-demand video content to every home in the U.K.
Canvas emerged in the aftermath of the death of Project Kangaroo, killed off by the Competition Commission after preemptive complaints were made by satellite broadcaster BSkyB and cable operator Virgin Media.
The Canvas project currently boasts BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Arqiva, TalkTalk, and BT as parties on board. And these partners want to build a content platform and set-top boxes which will bring online video to the masses in their living rooms
It looks more likely to actually become reality than its precursor Kangaroo, which went on to become SeeSaw.
BBC Trust Approval
Project Canvas received preliminary approval from the BBC Trust in December, with a further period of consultation and various conditions set out at the time. Six months later and final approval has finally been given, although more conditions have been added. Don’t you just love red tape?
The BBC Trust is insisting the industry as a whole is welcomed into being part of Canvas, with all content providers and Internet service providers able to participate. This should ensure Canvas cannot be stopped by vested interests.
The technical specs of Canvas must be published in the next 20 days, with these finalized at least eight months before the first set-top box goes on sale. Which means 2010 is out, with a summer 2011 launch most likely.
BSkyB, Virgin Media Respond
The usual suspects aren’t happy with this turn of events, with The Guardian posting details of statements from two rival broadcasters. Both, coincidentally, commercial ventures whose very existence is threatened by the rise of online video.
“The BBC’s involvement in Canvas is an unnecessary use of public funds. The BBC Trust’s announcement is a predictable decision from a body that has shown little inclination to think independently or set meaningful boundaries on the BBC’s activities.”
Virgin Media said:
“We are disappointed the BBC Trust has approved Canvas and ignored the significant concerns raised by the commercial sector about the proposal. Our position on this matter remains unchanged. As it stands, Canvas will severely restrict competition and innovation and ultimately this will harm consumers.”
I’m excited about Project Canvas. Freeview and Freesat are excellent services, but adding a layer of IPTV on top of these platforms could revolutionize the way we watch television. The only question remaining is whether Canvas will be able to compete with the forthcoming Google TV?
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