Huggers: 'Canvas will be a game changer'

Friday, November 13 2009, 13:38 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

BBC director of future, media and technology Erik Huggers has said that IPTV venture Project Canvas will be a "game changer" in the TV industry.

The BBC, ITV, Five and BT joint venture - which aims to create an open standard for IP-enabled TV devices - is currently being reviewed by the BBC Trust.

Speaking at the C21 Future Media conference held last night in London, Huggers claimed that Canvas has the potential to drive forward innovation in the video on demand market, reports the BBC Internet Blog.

"We believe Canvas will be a game changer. It still needs approval by the BBC Trust. If it gets it, what will it mean? Democratised access to the living-room," he said.

"Much more than TV and access to the internet - [it's about] about allowing developers to build apps to reach users. The beauty is that it's all based on internet technology standards."

Huggers then showed a carousel-style demonstration of how Canvas coverage would look for the London 2012 Olympics, including on-screen menus for watch, record and other applications.

On the demo, a BBC Olympics app sat alongside one for sports brand Nike, and Huggers stressed the importance of Canvas supporting commercial transactions "from day one".

As there will be over 5,000 hours of coverage from the Games, Huggers said that this would be far too much to show on linear channels, so the web will prove invaluable to bridge the gap.

Should the Trust give its approval for Canvas, Huggers called for all industry stakeholders to work effectively with the Digital Television Group to help drive forward the initiative.

Earlier this week, the House of Lords communications committee called on culture secretary Ben Bradshaw to "strong arm" the Competition Commission into green-lighting Canvas when it comes up for approval.

As the commission blocked previous IPTV venture Project Kangaroo, fears are growing that the same will happen with Canvas.

When asked about this danger, Huggers said: "Internet will come to TV whatever happens. If Canvas doesn't happen, it'll be a fragmented market.

"For start-ups, there'll be the additional costs of reformatting for each different platform versus an open standard."